In May 2015 I ordered 6 silver pencil rocks from a reputable (I think) breeder in Lancaster Pa. I picked them up myself because it was close enough to home. The man brought me 8 birds instead of 6. He said they are fragile so he gave me a couple extra.
One of these chicks was larger than all the others so we just called her Big Bird.
I took good care of the chicks and they were all healthy and happy. When they matured enough to tell the sex I knew I had 5 hens and 3 cocks. One day I came home from work and found one of the hens dead and the other birds picking at her. Too bad, but it happens right? I would let all the birds roam my country property when I was able to keep my eyes on them. My daughter pulled in with her dog one day (not knowing the birds were out) and her usually scared pup chased the birds into the briars next to the woods. Only 6 came out after the dog was controlled. I lost another hen. I looked all night for her, but no luck. I figured she couldn't survive the night with the foxes and coons around. That was my fault not the pup's. I should have protected my flock better.
So now I have 3 hens and 3 roosters. The roosters are all crowing like crazy, but not too aggressive with each other. One was the alpha rooster we called him the boss man. Then one day I come home from work and find a stone cold dead rooster. It was one of the smaller ones. There were no external signs of injury. About this same time one of the hens went from being perfectly healthy to limping badly on one leg. Again no sign of injury. She hobbled around for a couple of weeks and just got worse and the other birds were picking on her. She seemed to be in pain. I had to put her out of misery. Now I'm down to 2 and 2. Shortly thereafter the 2 remaining roosters and the other hen decided to all gang up on big bird. I wasn't going to let them harm BB. She was special, so I separated her from the rest till I could process the roosters. Now I've only got 2 hens, BB and her sister. They were getting along very well and I started getting some eggs. That was maybe about 3 weeks ago. I got two eggs in one day so I'm pretty sure the both layed that day.
Then my perfectly beautiful healthy BB suddenly developed a bad limp. Again no visible injury. She's been eating and drinking ok, but seems to be in pain. (I don't know for sure, but she's getting worse not better). She seems to be paralyzed on one side. Wing sticking out funny, curled toes, can't even stand up to poop. Her eyes are clear and bright, but I don't know if she can see. I know she hasn't been laying and she may have only ever layed one egg. Seems the lameness coincided with her first egg laying. I'm ending her misery tonight. I'll miss her. She was the friendliest of them all.
Now I'm down to a flock of 1 laying hen. I don't want her to be lonely. What do I do now? What's with the two lame hens? The two lame birds were affected several months apart. Coincidence? I planned on getting chicks again in the spring. Will my remaining hen be ok alone?
Please help. I'm a 52 year old man but I'm still bummed. Going to miss Big Bird. Also this is my first venture into chicken keeping.