Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Watching a Hen Grow Old

First, let me say, I haven't abandoned this blog, despite it being so long since I have posted.  I post a lot of trivial chicken related stuff to the BrighamCityChickens Facebook page simply out of convenience.

Now, on to the subject at hand...Watching a hen grow old.

I know chickens are susceptible to many diseases or predetors and sometimes it seems we can't do enough to protect them and they die of lets say, less than desirable causes.

Currently, Olga who is my polish hen and has been with us since this adventure started, is showing her age.  I think I first got chickens in 2007 and she was full grown then, I have no idea how old she was when I picked her out from a farm where she lived.

She has been slowing down for the passed year or so.  She is often the first one to bed and the last one up in the morning.  She is getting slower around the yard and I can tell her bones and joints hurt at times.  I will see here walking and pause and stretch out each leg.  Let me assure you, I don't think she is in any severe pain more than the pains any of us go through as we age. She has been quite a resilient hen.  She has been through a couple of dog bites when dogs got in to our back yard, but she has always healed up and come back stronger.

In past weeks I've noticed that she can't make it up to the roosts at night so she'll sleep in one of the nest boxes.  For a younger bird, that is not allowed.  Considering her age, I have no problem with that.  The past week or so, she is struggling to make it into the hen house or into a nest at night.  So when the other girls go to bed I pick her up and place her in a nest.  Every morning I walk out and am sure that I will find she had passed during the night.  Not yet.  Each morning, she is perky and talkative, but still quite slow.

I feel that I'm doing all I can to make her last days comfortable and don't feel she is suffering.  It is interesting to see the other hens keep an eye on her.  They are often concerned when I pick her up (she has always been flighty and never a lap chicken).  She has always roosted next to Red and I wonder if she will be missed by the others when she is gone, I know she'll be missed by us.