Mary was found dead in a corner of the chook pen this morning. She was in a place the girls hang out in the morning, where the early rays of the sun meets one of their favourite dust bathing patches.
We could not find anything wrong with her visible to the naked eye, but back when Twiggy was euthanased and sent off to be necropsied, we discovered that Twiggy had some serious nutritional deficiencies which I wrote about here – Chicken Merge & Vale Twiggy – and seeing as all 4 chooks came from the same breeder, the vet suspected that the other 3 girls would have the same problem.
Lizzy and Kitty seem like they have thrived in their new conditions, but Mary was always that little bit smaller than they were. She has always had a bit of a sneeze though the vet could not find any specific reason for it and was sure it was nothing to be concerned about, especially as it did not come with any other symptoms.
She has now been buried under the lemon tree in the garden the chooks love to free range in whenever they get a chance. She will be missed, especially by Lizzy and Kitty with whom she was most close..
Good nutrition for chooks is quite an involved process. Just yesterday Terry from Henblog wrote a post about how laying hen pellets are made. Our scratch mix includes hen pellets and I never see any pellets left behind, but we are now considering changing it up with more pellets and giving the grain as a less often treat. Especially as there is a seed in the scratch mix which the girls do not seem to eat.
As I posted when Ancona was euthanased in Vale Ancona – there are 7 other chickens in the yard for whom life continues. They live minute by minute, sucking the most joy out of each and every moment, whether it is a dirt bath, finding a bug, eating a treat from the humans.. all we can do is love them while they’re here, protect them the best we can from predators, know when it is time to let them go, and remember them when they are gone.
Given this experience with Twiggy and Mary, the chicken auctions will be unlikely to be a place we source chickens from again. We would be more likely to try and find a reliable breeder in future..