Hi, I'm new to the site but have had a small backyard flock for about 1 year now. In this past year I've battled through (and won) respiratory infections, Clostridium perfringens, molts and broodiness....all with one hen...Little Miss Ethel. My other hen Gertrude has been healthy as a horse the whole way through , (with the exception of the repository infection to which she bounced back within a few days. Gertrude has yet to molt and has still never gone broody. Shes our little trooper as well as our best layer). We've recently introduced two new hens to our flock. They were from the same breeder and actually hatched at the same time as our original two.The introduction was "text book". The transition was tough to watch but after a couple of weeks everyone had settled in and the pecking order was established. It's now been about 6 weeks and everyone was doing their chicken-y thing. Until yesterday... My husband went home for lunch and let the girls out of their run (they free range while we are home and are cooped while we are not). He noticed that all were in the run with the exception of Ethel. The girls lay like clock work every morning so it was strange for any of them to be laying). He opened the coop to check on her. She was laying in one of the nesting boxes in obvious pain and discomfort! She was breathing heavily and was avoiding movements when possible. We found 1/2 of her hard shelled egg broken next to her along with the majority of the yolk and "white". We assume that the other half was still inside of her. We tried examining her vent. We tried steam etc. She passed away within a matter of hours. It was so quick, I'm still a bit stunned! She showed no signs of being egg bound or peritonitis up to that point (and neither of these really sound to be like what happened to Ethel). I've searched all over the internet for stories of HARD SHELLED eggs breaking inside of hens but can't find anything. All stories seem to be of soft shelled eggs breaking. I'm just trying to figure out what happened to the poor little thing. Our hens are all Novo-gens. They are fed organic non-gmo layer pellets with 17% protein. They have oyster shell available in their run. Their treats are collard greens, kale, sweet potato, watermelon, meal worms, and SMALL AMOUNTS of polenta, flax seed and oats (this is reserved as an extra special treat). They always have fresh water available to them and get ACV in it for about 1 week every 4 to 6 weeks. They free range daily so pick up whatever they find from the yard as well. But we keep a very tidy yard. Last thing to note is that we live in the Cayman Islands. We have wild chickens EVERYWHERE! And I mean everywhere! Similar to pigeons in NYC. While we've manged to keep them out of our yard, they patrol right on the other side of the fence next to our coop and run. Our local possy comes over daily and checks out our chickens as well as beg for food (which admittedly we do give them...I've even been mixing some de-wormer in there for them, they come over every evening at around 5pm). Sorry for the length of this! I've gone off on a bit of a ramble. My point is: Does anyone have any ideas about what happened to Ethel?