Left with one hen, currently molting

maryn7

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
155
204
121
NE Illinois
One of my two hens died very suddenly. She was feeling poorly Sunday morning - on the roost, listless. She occasionally got like that following a hawk attack last year. Usually a calcium pill perked her right up. Unfortunately, we had to leave town immediately after giving her the pill for two days. And, breaking my heart, I came back today to find her passed. (I have her in the freezer to get to the lab to see what happened.)

I had recently switched to a new bag of organic layer pellets, and I'm going to be ditching that bag, just in case there was something wrong with it.

My issue is - I now have one bird, who is absolutely smack dab in the middle of her molt. She looks a mess and is very grumpy, lower energy etc. I switched her over to a chick crumble of her old food brand for the extra protein. But I'm looking for some advice on what to do since I've hit a perfect storm here of a) 1 lonely bird, b) an unknown (potential) disease, c) in the middle of molting, and d) when there aren't any more chicks to be had until spring (we had intended to get more chicks in the spring to round out the flock).

The remaining bird is kind of a bossy grump, so she's not going to take kindly to new birds in her space. But she also keeps checking the egg boxes for her sister, and I feel awful.

I've read lots of posts about molting birds and lonely birds and diseases, but I'm sitting in the middle of terrible venn diagram. If you've got any short term ideas or 6 month ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks.
 

cavemanrich

Addict
7 Years
Apr 6, 2014
18,123
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Melrose Park Illinois
Your location,,,, NE Ill, means you may be close to Chitown metro. Go to one of the live poultry stores,,, and grab a live hen to go. Google search for the one closest to you,,,,,,,, or I can tell you where 2 are in Chicago currently. (I have purchased live chickens from those 2 )
Alternately, jump on the Illinois thread, and ask if someone has any extras available.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/illinois.37/page-1643

WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
 

maryn7

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
155
204
121
NE Illinois
Your location,,,, NE Ill, means you may be close to Chitown metro. Go to one of the live poultry stores,,, and grab a live hen to go. Google search for the one closest to you,,,,,,,, or I can tell you where 2 are in Chicago currently. (I have purchased live chickens from those 2 )
Alternately, jump on the Illinois thread, and ask if someone has any extras available.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/illinois.37/page-1643

WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
Thank you!
 

maryn7

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
155
204
121
NE Illinois
Given the time of the year and the unknown cause of death, I'd consider waiting until next spring to add chicks as you'd originally planned. Try to spend some extra time with your hen to make up for the loss of companionship.
You think she'll be okay through about 5 months on her own? If so, that's my inclination, but it was horrible to see her up on the roost alone last night, burrrping softly at me.
 

maryn7

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
155
204
121
NE Illinois
Freezer or fridge?
I don't think freezing is apropo, ask the lab before taking carcass there.
I talked to them and a vet after I'd done it. You're right - it wasn't the right move (I didn't have access to fridge space for her).

But since it's unclear how long she'd been dead, the vet and I decided a necropsy likely wasn't going to be that useful. But the lab let me know that the cells can become affected, making them hard to use for cultures (the same if they've been laying out too long after death) - Just posting this info for others who might come across the thread.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
You think she'll be okay through about 5 months on her own? If so, that's my inclination, but it was horrible to see her up on the roost alone last night, burrrping softly at me.
It's not ideal however it's also not practical to be raising chicks now for various reasons, so assuming you don't want to rehome her, I'd just try to keep her company for the time that she'd be alone.

If you're ok with getting another adult or near adult bird, then you can probably add another bird sooner rather than later, however there's still the concern that 1) she may have something (which killed your other bird) that may pass on to another bird, so you potentially could lose 2 birds if you add a newcomer, and that 2) the newcomer could have something which could pass on to her. Versus hatchery chicks, where they'd be very unlikely to be a disease vector.
 

maryn7

Songster
Apr 29, 2020
155
204
121
NE Illinois
I'm going to give her until at least her molt is done to see what's up. She's sort of circling her food awkwardly sometimes (she doesn't do it consistently, just when I put something down for her - she seems suspicious), and I see that's a symptom of some diseases.

But if she seems good after her molt, I'll look to add another older pullet. I think she's pretty lonely, despite my best efforts and snacks. (She is not a cuddle bird; her love language is bossing everyone around.)

Thanks for the advice everyone.
 

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