This is Jolene.
She is a two year old Rhode Island Red hen, and also Little Dude’s favorite hen in all the coop. She was the first of the Rhodies to let him pick her up and respond to his affections.
I’m not sure how evident it is from the pictures, but her abdomen is swollen like an over full balloon. I’ve spent the last week treating her – or trying to treat her – for being egg bound. Warm baths in epson salts, a soft next, dark room away from her flock in the comfort of our porch. Liquid calcium drench.
I even stuck my finger up her vent looking for an egg. I didn’t find one, though.
She stopped eating when I separated her from the flock, so after two days of nothing happening, I put back with her flock. She eats, forages, but walking at a slower pace. The swelling has not gone away. Her walking is getting slower and more difficult. She can’t jump up on to the roosts at night now.
She hasn’t passed an egg or yolks. I haven’t seen her poop in days.
I’ve looked up the symptoms and everything I’ve read says this is not good.
In the meantime, she’s slowly suffering, and we’re suffering right along with her as we’re watching her do it.
Little Dude has not wanted to lose ‘his chicken.’ He wanted me to ‘wait and see.’ He’s asked me in that tentative way that proves he is thinking things through “are you sure she just won’t get better with time?”
Last night, I told him he needed to say good-bye, because this afternoon, Dad and I were going to do the right thing and cull her. I don’t want to wait it out until she either dies or her abdomen bursts from the pressure of whatever is making her swell.
I don’t want to come down one morning to let them out, or in the afternoon to collect eggs and find that she keeled over and the rest of the flock decided to cannibalize her. Because chickens are opportunistic little onmivores.
So we hugged and snuggled her and said our good-byes last night. Told her what a good girl she was and how sorry we were. Told her that Becky and Ava, Madison and Dottie and poor little Riley were waiting for her on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, in a pasture of fresh grass and fat juicy bugs. That there was a patch of dirt, warm from the sun, waiting for her to stretch out in.
She laid her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes, as if to let me know that she understood. I hope she does.
Today is going to be a rough day.