She Died


8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
Well, after trying hard not to worry so much about my 2 hens (I'm new to raising
chickens and had raised my two lovely Barred Rocks from tiny chicks and didn't
want to be a worrywart/cyberchondriac all the time about them), against my
better judgment I went on vacation to the Oregon Coast at the urging of a friend
who wanted me there.

My chickens had been so happy and seemingly healthy all this hot long summer
prior to my departure.

I worked hard in the days before I left on vacation to assure the chickens had
plenty of fresh food and water, grit and oystershell, and I gave the neighbors
several watermelons so they could give the chickens plenty of rinds while I was
away to keep them well hydrated.

The neighbor said the very day I left, he found Merry Easter dead in the shade
at 5 p.m. She was only 1 year 5 months old. He said she had been okay earlier
in the day.

Needless to say, I feel awful about having gone on vacation. Had I stayed home,
I would have been there to observe her in the heat. It was 98 F that day. She
was out free-ranging. Her sister survived.

My dead girl is the one who went broody in early June and hid under the house 5
days, until we built the run and broke her of her broodiness. Now I wonder
whether had we let her stay broody on those unfertilized eggs, she might have
lost enough weight to survive the hot summer?

She had pecked out several of her breast feathers, and I had assumed it was to
feather her nest with, due to broodiness, but now I'm wondering whether breast
feather picking could have been an indication of fatty liver disease?

Remember how I wondered whether my hens were too fat? No one responded to the
pictures I posted in regards to that question, so I still wonder, though folks
in other chicken groups thought they looked fine, size-wise. So I don't know.
I did try to lessen the amount of food they had access to, until one laid a
funny egg that I thought might have been a sign of not getting enough
calcium/protein, so then I went back to free choice food but never any scratch
or starchy food. There was no repeat of the egg laying problem.

An expert had told me it was probably a freak thing, where the egg had been
overly large and gotten stuck inside for just a bit too long until it fell out,
but he said if there was no repeat of the problem it wasn't anything to worry

I fed them some blueberries in the early summer, just a few, but then I worried
about pesticides on the blueberry skins and fed only watermelon and a small
amount of yogurt occasionally as a treat. I put a bit of apple cider vinegar in
their water.

When they were cooped up in the run while Easter was getting over being broody
in June, their combs developed odd black spots and I really worried, but after I
started letting them out to free-range again, their combs cleared up and they
were the picture of health and happinewss.

I just know I'm heartsick and feel like a failure as a pet mother, again.

When I got home today from my vacation (my neighbor hadn't told me Merry Easter
died on August 25, so I found out today), Esther Mary was acting strange, and I
assumed she was grieving the loss of her sister, but then I saw that the
neighbor had left several of her unfertilized eggs under her to encourage her to
go broody (I did not ask him to do this.)

My neighbor thinks we should let her hatch some eggs so she will have a
companion chicken or 2 for the winter. She loved her sister so much. But I'm
not sure it's a good idea. He's having fertilized eggs from a white chicken
(Esther is a Barred Rock) and some bantam eggs sent here for Esther to hatch.
I'm not sure mixing breeds like this would be a good idea?

I have to wonder whether it's too late in the season to try to hatch chicks?
Couldn't they freeze or get very sick if we have an early cold spell and they
aren't inside our house?

Also, I'm not sure it's good for Esther to sit on a nest so long and not get as
much exercise, especially if it was fatty liver disease/a heart attack that took
her sister. On the other hand, she might lose weight sitting on the eggs, and
that might be a good thing.

What do you all think? I'm heading back to Easter's grave now to put some
pretty flowers on it. Our neighbor kindly buried beautiful Merry Easter in the
cemetery with my late kitten, who died in February.

Thanks for your help,



8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
A correction. The kind folks in this particular Backyard chicken group DID respond to my post asking whether my chickens looked too fat, and I appreciated everyone's help. I first posted about Easter's death in another chicken group which did not respond to the photos, and I cut-and-pasted my post-- hence, the mistake here. I thank everyone for your assistance in that matter.


8 Years
Aug 22, 2011
Clare, I have no words of wisdom as I'm a brand new chick mom, but I wanted to say I'm so sorry Easter died, especially while you were away. Perhaps it was just her time to go, and easier for her to leave with you out of town? A friend who worked as a hospice counselor said he's seen people die this way, just after their loved ones leave the room.
It sounds like a new hen would be a great companion for your girl.
Best of luck.


8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
Thank you for the sweet message, Frithest. It made me feel much better. That's interesting about the hospice workers. There may be something to your theory. I like it. Here is a picture of my sweet girl taken this past summer. We went through a lot together. How I will miss her super friendly personality.



11 Years
Apr 6, 2008
Sorry about your hen. It is something that would have happened with you home or not since it was the next day after you left. It is never easy to loose one whether you see it happen or not and you always wonder how you could have prevented it.

Your neighbor sounds kind and pretty sensible. If your hen has an interest in going broody, chicks would certainly meet the need for companionship and the breed of babies really doesn't matter much. However, hens usually decide on their own to get broody so it likely will not work.

You can get a companion hen for your chicken but you will need to isolate it for 4 weeks to be safe. I'd hate to see you bring in a new chicken and end up with one or both getting sick. When you isolate them, they cannot be near one another at all. Eventually you do need to make plans to increase your is a lonely # for most birds.


13 Years
Sep 18, 2007
Pell City, Alabama
I'm sorry for your loss of your beloved hen. She looks so sweet in her picture!

Please don't blame yourself.
We all need time away-- and like the others said, it may have just been her time.

You sound like a wonderful chicken mom and I'm sure you took all the precautions necessary.

Why not plant a flowering bush or perennial in your yard in her memory so when it blooms you remember her time there with you


8 Years
Mar 30, 2011

Thanks for the good info. The surviving hen does seem happy to be brooding. I removed all the eggs that she was sitting on when I got home today but then put 2 back, unsure of what to do. These are unfertilized eggs. The fertilized ones are to arrive tomorrow.

The fact she's sitting on 2 eggs so nicely does make me think she's willing to go broody, but I'm worried about the fertilized eggs not being right-- they might not be at the right temperature when transported, and someone else tells me a lot of things can go wrong with such eggs and probably none of them will hatch.

I'd like to just bring her in the house for the cold winter, but I know my husband won't hear to that. If they don't hatch, that is going to be very sad.

I could send her up to camp to be with the other chickens there, but I don't like that idea at all. Coyotes, cougars, bears, raccoons. Way too much danger, and I know she'd hate it.

Thanks for the quarantine info. I don't know where I'd have space to quarantine a 2d bird.



10 Years
Apr 5, 2009
NW Washington State
Don't beat yourself up too much about it - there may very well have been nothing you could have done that would have saved her. Some chickens just suddenly die for no apparent reason. I had an 18 month old sex-link do this last year. One minute she was an active normal chicken and 15 minutes later I found her dead. There's even a name for it - "chicken roll-over syndrome".


8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
Thanks for theinfo, I'm4Eggcellence. I'll look up that syndrome. Sorry you lost the 18 month old. It's so sad to look in the fridge and realize the beautiful eggs that she laid were her last. I can't even bear to eat them. She was such a good layer, and her eggs were so pretty, like she was.

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