When your chickens get old and die...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chookchick, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I haven't posted on here for forever. But this seems to be a turning point for my chickens. I have six hens that I have had for eight and nine years and they are pretty much pets. Up to now I have had a few egg-binding incidences, bumblefoot, but hadn't lost a chicken. Of course they are not laying great anymore--some maybe once a week. My best layer is actually one of the older ones (a gold-laced Wyandotte).

    At the New Year, I noticed that one was not feeling well (Delilah). When I got a better look at her, she had a large abscess on her leg, I feel terrible I didn't notice her before, but I've been somewhat ill recently. After going over the options and seeing her prognosis, I decided to have a neighbor butcher her.

    Now another one is not doing well (Jackie O). I've looked her over and can't really see any issues, other than poopy butt which she is always prone to. It's winter so she isn't haven't egg-related problems. I've decided to leave her in the coop with her buddies rather than try heroics to bring her back. She's not eating much at this point, so she'll probably die soon.

    Is this kind of what to expect as they get older? The others look fine, but should I be worried about them? How did your chickens pass away? It's tough.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Chickens die much like everything else dies, sometimes suddenly and sometimes from age or reproductive related problems. Yours have lived longer than most laying breeds do, so that's a good thing.

    Normally, a person will kill them when they notice one is suffering/not eating/standing around/getting thin for no reason in order to give them a good death after a good life. If you have a neighbor who will do that for your birds, I'd urge you to let them do so to the one that is not currently wanting to eat. Dying naturally, though natural, isn't too pleasant a way to go most of the time, so if you can give her mercy it's a good thing to do.

    In the future, though there are always exceptions to the rule, note that a hen is on the time clock to dying once she stops laying her regular laying cycles she normally does in a year. People who want to avoid older hens suffering prior to death will normally kill them when they stop normal laying patterns, be they young or old, while they are still feeling good and having a good life. This serves three purposes~it gives a chicken a good life and a quick and merciful end to it, her meat can still be consumed, and it removes a potential carrier of parasites and/or disease from the flock.
    7 people like this.
  3. ChickenKABOOM

    ChickenKABOOM In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2017
    9-8 yrs old! That's pretty good! Congratulation! What breed are they, and don't be surprised if some of them begin to pass on, you've don't well.
    1 person likes this.
  4. K&S_Farms_

    K&S_Farms_ Chirping

    Jul 31, 2010
    Weldon, ca
    Sounds like they have had a great, wonderful and well taken care of life. I have some girls that are a couple years behind yours.

    Job well done!

  5. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Thanks beekissed , K&S, Kaboom, so nice to talk with those that understand.

    Beekissed, that is a really good way to think about it. I'll talk with my neighbor, as he has already said I should butcher the ones that aren't laying anymore, and he'd like the meat. When they get in really bad shape, he doesn't want the meat.

    I still feel like he is doing me a big favor though, and I'll have to figure out a way to repay.

    Kaboom--the first one to pass was a speckled sussex--she was quite the personality! She had a bit of a tough time as a chick and was always a terrible layer, tiny eggs to boot.

    Jackie O. is the only one of my original batch (the rest turned out to be roosters!) I'm guessing a black Australorp (sp?). She has been a very dependable layer until the last year or so. But she almost always has poopy butt and odd-shaped eggs. She was the alpha hen.

    Pheonix is the Gold-laced Wyandotte--she is a real *****, but she is STILL a great layer, totally dependable, and seems healthy at 9 years old.

    The others (3) are Easter Eggers and aren't very good layers anymore, but they seem very healthy and are sweet. Maybe if I put them in a tractor next year, get them on grass, they will lay better?

    I need eggs! Guess that means chicks...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  6. jennyf

    jennyf Songster

    Apr 24, 2016
    You sure have some lucky chickens to have you caring for them! One reads about so few birds that make it that long, with predators and injuries and diseases. Was curious, where did you get them from originally?
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Does your neighbor have a flock of his own? If he doesn't, perhaps you could gift him some eggs. As your birds are all ageing out, as Bee says, better to give them a quick merciful end to a good life, than to wait until they are suffering. Birds hide their illness well, and by the time you notice that they have an issue, most likely they have been hiding it for some time, and suffering during that time. Your neighbor wants the meat, you don't want to process your birds... that's a win/win situation to me. If he does have his own flock, and you really want to do something nice for him... take him some cookies, or some brownies, or perhaps a bit of what ever your "specialty meal" happens to be. Everyone loves home made kitchen goodies.
    2 people like this.

  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I would not feel guilty about the abscess on her leg, I am betting it came on very fast.

    I would anticipate that most of this flock will be gone within 6 months. However, I would have made the same prediction 3-4 years ago! Often times, I have gone in and just had a hen that seemed just fine the day before, was dead. To me, pretty good way to go.

    However, I strongly agree with Beekiss, that as the caretaker, there is a responsibility to reduce suffering of old age, disease or injury. If your neighbor can do this, I would let them.

    Truthfully, I think if you get some chicks, 5 months from now, you are going to be wondering why you waited so long to get them.

    Mrs K
    1 person likes this.
  9. I belive you should NOT have the killed.Ithink you should keep them in a pen with a house with comfy, dry wood chicks for them to scratch and peck and a grassy run and give them good last days of life.

  10. Chips, not chicks.

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