It was actually a relief to take the body of Gray Hen out into the woods.
She hasn’t been well for a while. When she started limping over the summer someone told me about Bumblefoot. It’s an infection that starts on a chickens feet, usually from a bacteria that gets into a cut.
I read that you can see a swelling, usually what looks like a black mass on the bottom of the chicken’s feet when they have it. I would check gray hen’s feet from time to time and was never able to see anything unusual there.
But when she stopped coming out of the roost and wouldn’t even leave the laying box except to eat I saw that her feet were twisted to one side. Just like some people’s hands are when they have arthritis.
Gray Hen could no longer roost, she could barely walk.
Jon and I weren’t sure if she was in pain, or not, although all signs seem to say that she was. So we’ve been talking about what to do about it.
Today I looked further in the Bumblefoot and saw that the infection eventually spreads to the whole foot and then into the chicken often killing her. It’s also said to be painful, which is why the hen isn’t walking or standing on her feet.
All the symptoms pointed to Bumblefoot. There are surgeries that can be done. They show you how on YouTube.
But after nursing a hen back to health after a fox attacked her and having her die only a few days after she’s seemed all better, I decided I didn’t want to do that again. I felt there was no reason for the hen to have suffered so much.
Since then I’ve seen how quickly and inexplicable hens often die.
So I told Jon what I learned and how I believed Gray Hen was in pain and he agreed with me that it was best to put her down.
When it comes to putting chickens down, Jon has the hard part.
I imagine I could shoot a hen if I had to, but I’d rather not. And although Jon’ doesn’t like to do it. He’s okay with it. He’s had animals for longer than I have and has more experience when it comes to killing them. Honestly, I’ve never even shot a gun.
I carried Gray Hen to the barn and left so Jon could shoot her.
Then I took Fate with me and brought Gray Hen out to a clearing in our back woods, so the coyote and other animals could easily find her body.
I was sad to lose the gray hen, but I’m mostly relieved to know she isn’t suffering anymore.
6 thoughts on “Rest Easy Gray Hen”
Rest easy Gray Hen. You were a lovely chicken and did your service well.
As I commented on Jon’s post, I shall miss her. As with many of us I suspect, I’ve grown very fond of her…and have ached as she declined. Never thought I’d feel this way about a chicken. His last photo of her was beautiful and dignified her death.
And like both of you, I am deeply grateful she suffers no longer. I hope you will theme a quilt around her…perhaps a cycle from egg to earth. An analogy, perhaps, of our own life cycle. Just a thought❤️
Dear Maria, Hens do seem to have a short, iffy life. They are wonderfully cheerful creatures who enjoy their egg laying job, but not especially bonded to each other or people.
I know that saying “livestock = deadstock” is too simple, but even though I’ve gotten attached to my chickens, it’s never been the same as what I feel for my “indoor” animals, which are absolutely pets. My chickens were employees who I liked to hang out with, but it was a reciprocal relationship, I fed them, they fed me.
Now that we’re moving, I rehomed the girls to a garden center in the neighborhood. I thought I’d miss them, but so far, I really don’t. I do, however, miss the eggs.
I’d say you have a very healthy way of looking at it Karen. I know I’d miss the fresh eggs too.