And Then There Was 1

redidbull

Hatching
Jun 17, 2019
9
9
9
Southwest Connecticut
We lost our #2 chicken last night and we are down to our last 1. She seemed OK in the morning but rapidly went down hill. My question is what to do with our last one? We have lost 3 in the past few months and I think there may be a virus in there. They are about 5 years old. Because of not being sure if there is a problem we want to keep the last 1 not rehome her. We are not getting any more. Is there something I need to watch out for? I did a little looking on the net and read I should take her into the house on cold winter nights. I am not sure if that is true. I wanted to run this by the pros. Thank you. Jim
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
28,104
45,768
1,232
Colorado Rockies
A solitary chicken is a lonely chicken without other chickens. You can compensate for this loss by giving her special attention. Cold winter nights will be an issue. Without other individuals to share body heat with, it will be very difficult and uncomfortable for her. Taking her in at night to sleep is a good idea, but she shouldn't be exposed to a steep temperature gradient. Try to keep day time and night time temps as similar as possible. You may need to let her move into the house full time.

I recommend a necropsy so you will know what killed the other chickens.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,385
16,139
726
western South Dakota
If they are 5 years old, they died of natural causes. They died of old age. Get new and younger chickens, you don't have anything to worry about. If you had a virus that they were susceptible to, you would have wiped out the flock rapidly. Loosing 3 chickens over a couple of months is just more than likely old age.

Mrs K
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
28,104
45,768
1,232
Colorado Rockies
If they are 5 years old, they died of natural causes. They died of old age. Get new and younger chickens, you don't have anything to worry about. If you had a virus that they were susceptible to, you would have wiped out the flock rapidly. Loosing 3 chickens over a couple of months is just more than likely old age.

Mrs K
Without laying a scientific study on you all, here's a very charming yet informative article abut hens and dying of old age and what actually ends up killing those that dare to keep living beyond the ripe old age of five. https://hencam.com/henblog/2011/02/why-old-hens-die/

In my own flock, in addition to a fleet of younger layers and two roosters, I have several ancient hens, from age eight to eleven. A ten-year old keeps trying to lay eggs, but she hasn't got the chops to build a shell any longer, so she may end up dying from reproductive issues. Indeed, she almost died last month when one of her shell-less wonders ruptured inside her. She completely recovered with the help of penicillin and a week of intensive care.

The eleven-year old has a tumor over her right eye. No, it's not likely to kill her as she's had it half her life. But she could eventually die from leucosis tumors on heart or liver. So far, she shows no signs of being a candidate for death from "old age".

Even though I have an avian virus in my flock, I rarely find a chicken dead from "mysterious" causes. If one dies, which is rare, she has shown signs of steady decline. More often, a hen or rooster will get sick and go through a slow decline, and I euthanize when they no longer appear to be enjoying life. I do my own necropsies these days and often find a body cavity loaded with tumors.

Saying a chicken has died from natural causes or old age usually assumes something killed them. Most often it's tumors that finally cause organ failure.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,385
16,139
726
western South Dakota
I think I agree ^^? For most hens, 5 years old is an old hen. Some do live much longer, as in the above post of 11 years. Which truly blows my mind. I have never even had a hen get that close. By the end of 4 years they look old, often times kind of cranky.

But I really don't think it is a virus, or that they have been infected with a dangerous disease that is taking months to kill them all off.

I have often had hatchery flock mates, die off, generally with in months of each other, just as she described. They may seem off, and often times, one does not notice anything, they are just dead the next time you check them.

Mrs K
 

redidbull

Hatching
Jun 17, 2019
9
9
9
Southwest Connecticut
Hello all, Well we made it through the winter but now find ourselves in a bad place. We will get through this. Everyone stay safe and healthy.
Our last chicken survived the winter weather and actually looks good. We try to go out everyday and interact with her. She follows me around like a dog and actually comes when I call her. I guess I am now her companion. I take every day as a blessing with her. Thanks for all the help. Jim
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
19,798
41,021
1,112
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I'm glad that she's doing well and that you can at least provide her with some companionship. Since she doesn't have a flock, any time you can spend with her is a good thing.
 

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