Our favorite hen

Our favorite hen, Missy, is very, very sick.

We're not sure what is going on, really. (We've only had chickens for a little over a year, and this is the first major problem we've had.)

Mark has noticed that for the past three nights she hasn't climbed up on the roost with the others, but has remained on the floor instead.

Unusual, but not necessarily alarming. Maybe she was just climbing up later than usual.

And then this morning Mark found her in the corner of the henhouse, and she seemed lethargic. We wish now we had pulled her away from the other chickens as soon as we found her this morning.

This afternoon we noticed her in the yard, and initially thought that was improvement, until we noticed that two of the other MEAN hens were pecking at her. (They do that, you know-- they pick on the weakest member of the flock.)

Mark got home from work, checked on her again, and isolated her from the other three. Then he came indoors and told us he thought she wasn't going to make it. She was very weak and still.

Missy has always been the sweetest, tamest, and mildest of our four hens, and is Ella's favorite one.

Ella and Isaac both (but especially Ella) have been in tears on and off throughout the evening. They're asking all sorts of questions like: "What will we do with her if she dies?" "Will we have a funeral?" "Will Missy go to heaven?" "If she goes to heaven will God have a coop for her there?"

Ella spent some time feeding her and trying to get her to drink some water. She ate a bit, out of Ella's hand, and did drink some water.

[If you're squeamish, skip this paragraph] The other chickens pecked her head today (so much so that it's bleeding), and her back as well. As Mark was putting medicine on her this evening, he noticed that maggots were all over the wounds on her back. Ew. So he spent some quality time with Missy tonight, picking out the maggots, cleaning her with warm water and putting peroxide on her wounds. Then he put some salve on her.

Little Nurse Ella- who would not leave Missy's side- dried her feathers with a hairdryer, and made her a bed of fresh straw and cedar shavings. We put her in a box on our back porch. We have a lamp above her to keep her warm, and food and water in her box, and we'll see if she makes it through the night.

As for the other meanies? They're not getting any scratch from me for weeks. And I'll be glaring at them every chance I get.


  1. Oh, Stacy. Jake and I will pray that Missy is healed and that Ella and Isaac will weather this storm to the best of their little abilities. Mark is a pretty committed chicken Dad...picking maggots off...wow.
    Jake noticed how puffy Ella's eyes are..so sad.

  2. So sad. (Three of ours are barred rocks, too.) I said a prayer for Missy, knowing God cares for the sparrows (and chickens), but even more for the tender hearts of your little ones. Purely out of concern, I wanted to mention I have read that cedar shavings are toxic to chickens. Since she's already not doing well, it may be wise to replace her bedding with just the clean straw. I do hope she recovers. I know attached we are to our "girls" and you've had yours much longer.

  3. We've had sick chickens, too. Though its not always the case, ours have always bounced back. I'm sure hoping that's the case for your little hen, especially for your Ella (her sad face is heart-wrenching!). Keep us posted!

  4. Talia,

    YIKES! How did we not know this? And surely some chicken book I checked out, long ago, recommended cedar shavings or we'd never have gotten them in the first place. Most of their bedding and flooring is straw (over wood), but in their nesting box we've mixed in a bit of the shavings with the straw. But sheesh, no longer. Thanks!

  5. I'm glaring all the way from my home too. Bratty hens. They're so mean.

    We had 10 chickens before and I was pretty shocked when one was attacked by a hawk...they all 'enjoyed' that. dumb things.
    I have no qualms about eating chicken. They're pretty simple creatures. But when they become your pet, like Missy? That's hard stuff.

  6. Oh Poor Ella. Praying for her sweet little heart.

  7. I hope she gets better! We're also having some pecking issues. Is there something you can put on that to discourage the others from doing it? We've lost two of our chickens and it's been sad. (One died a seemingly "natural" death, but we don't know what caused it; the other time something got into our coop and attacked. Ugh. I do hope she perks up soon!

  8. What a rotten weekend for animals. Our new puppy died, and everyone is a wreck, especially my 6 year old and his daddy.

    I hope your chicken gets better! Death and kids is always tough.

  9. Aww... so sad. Such hard lessons for little ones to learn.

  10. That face! It completely communicates what's going on in her little heart! :(

  11. Oh that pathetic little face. :( You give those nasty meanies lots of dirty looks from me, too!

  12. So sad! :( Your little Ella is a sweety. We too have lost a couple of chickens over the years, and it's never easy. And they have both been our favourite ones too! :( At the moment it looks like one of our most recent chicks may actually be a rooster - we're sort-of hoping he is, just for that lovely dawn farm call, and so we can get more baby chicks! :)


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