Support Needed - Graphic Story - Lost my first Hen


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 22, 2014
I am still feeling stunned after what happened last night. I have done some reading on this site, and I think the only thing that makes sense is that one of my hens got hen-pecked in the butt from the others.

I check on my girls every day. I walk around with them in the yard and pick them up. I clean out their coop once or twice a week. I feel like I pay attention to each of them, but maybe I need to do a better job. I am not sure if this happened because I'm a bad chicken mommy or if this can be just their nature, if they don't like someone in their roost.

I went out to close up the coop last night, and noticed a little stain of blood in the pine shaving litter. The hen got up, and I noticed a bloody clump on her butt. The chickens all get a little poopy on their feathers. I have washed a couple before, and have been meaning to do it again. But the blood was cranberry red and shocking to me.

I immediately ran inside and got my husband. A friend of ours was also visiting, so the three of us ran back out to the coop. We picked up the hen and took her into our shed to have some good light and to see what was going on. I used a wet paper towel to wipe off the bloody clump and what we found was so awful. More bright blood and there were worms or maggots up in the hole. WHAT!?!? How could this have happened so fast?!?

Oh my sweet Lord. I have never lost my composure like this, but I absolutely panicked and could not do anything but hop around, saying OMG OMG OMG. Our friend, Beau, fortunately grew up on a farm, and he said, "I'm sorry, but this hen is not going to make it. Do you want to go to the vet or take care of it now so she doesn't suffer any more?" We chose the faster answer.

I don't know how to wrap my mind around this. I just recently lost my two 18-year old cats, so I knew I could not bear the thought of an animal suffering 1 minute longer than it should. My husband and I both had a hard time sleeping last night, tossing and turning, and I had some disturbing nightmares. In fact, I have been having nightmares several times a week since I lost my beloved cats.

I must need some more education on how to take care of chickens. But the feedback I get from friends who have chickens in the country is that my girls are pretty pampered. They are "East Cobb" chickens. :) They eat only organic feed and scratch and they get plenty of free range exercise and they have 2 water feeders. I give them kale and spinach for treats, along with oyster shells and hi-cal grit. I have been worried that maybe they were crowded. We built their coop from a kit supposedly good for 4 to 6 hens. We have had 5 since April. The run is about 20 feet long.

Ever since we got our girls, there have always been 4 who hung together like sorority girls, and 1 who always did her own thing. I have noticed an occasional egg-eater but wasn't sure which one it was. I am wondering if this is an episode of "Mean Girls" and if the more aggressive chickens were ganging up on the one who didn't fit in.

Any advice would be very appreciated. Thank you!
I'm sorry to hear about your chicken. I'm a newbie too and I'm sure I would have reacted the same way. I think you did the most humane thing to put her out of her misery. The wound must have been really awful.

I wonder if maybe you are right about the space issue. Those DIY kits are notorious for claiming more hens can fit than what they should. As I understand it, for 5 hens you need a minimum of 20 sq ft of coop space, and 50 sq ft of run space, unless they are being free ranged all day. Do you have this mind of space?

I don't know about the 'mean girl' theory. I guess it was your loner chicken that was attacked? Ugh, awful.

I hope others with more knowledge can chime in with advice. Hang in there!
I'm sorry for your loss.
There are many explanations for your hen's sudden bleeding--pecking by other hens, prolapsed oviduct, other injury, etc. Maggots can infest wounds pretty fast, and unfortunately, chickens are so feathery that it can be hard to tell that they are injured. There was probably nothing you could have done to save her.
I've been reading some more about prolapsed oviduct. I don't know about that, we didn't see any tissues poking out. It was only a bloody hole.
In the last 2 days, I have seen her in the coop trying to lay an egg. But we have only gotten 1 or 2 a day lately, so maybe she was unsuccessful and egg bound. Could being egg bound cause this kind of injury?
Prolapsed cloaca is fairly common, and will attract pecking by the others. Also a soiled vent from diarrhea or droppings can attract flies to lay eggs, and cause fly strike. There are many threads here to read on BYC about flystrike, and how to treat it if you do a search at the top of the page. Here is one:
Sorry for your loss.
Ok. All my hens are getting baths this afternoon. How often should I wash theIr butts? Once a month?
Keeping the vent area clean is the main thing. In cold months, bathing is just not practical, and shouldn't be done even to just the vent area, unless the hen is brought inside to dry completely. Usually, you can trim off excess feathers where in some hens the droppings will catch. You can also break off any dry chunks with a rubber gloved hand. I have a couple of hens who keep a perpetual dirty rear end, and I just try to keep up with trimming. This summer I put them all into a pen, trimmed and bathed rearends, wormed them with Valbazen, and gave them probiotics and ACV in their water for a week. I'm not sure that did anything, but it made me feel better, and they loved all of the extra good food they received.

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