Spring in the Garden

Spring in the Garden

Sunday, 22 January 2012

RIP Robyn and Betsy

Unfortunately we lost Robyn at the end of November. She had not been laying for most of the year, but otherwise seemed healthy enough. Then in the middle of November she started to go downhill.  I noticed all the chickens suddenly running from the end of the run into the hen house for some reason and Robyn ran straight into the ladder.  Any unusual behaviour that followed I put down to her having bumped into the ladder, initially.

This all coincided with my mother-in-law being in hospital and hubby was working in Switzerland and the kids were at uni, so it was up to me to visit mother-in-law during the week.  In the second week I started to notice that Robyn was falling down the ladder from the roosting area and not sitting on the perch when she was roosting. On the Wednesday morning as I fed the chickens and let them down before dashing off to work Robyn's difficulties became more obvious to me, but by the time I'd got home after work and visiting my mother-in-law it was dark and all the chickens were in the roosting area.

Thursday morning I decided to bring Robyn in to keep and eye on her, so I put newspaper and dust-free sawdust in a large cardboard box to keep her in. She didn't seem to be eating and drinking properly and had a couple of black spots on her comb, which was a purple colour at the back.  I kept a close eye on her, making sure she had enough to eat and drink, but she didn't have much appetite and could hardly move.  Hubby was home at the weekend and we wondered about taking her to the vet, but it was a bit late on Saturday before we thought about it and by midday Sunday she was dead.

It was after Christmas we noticed that Betsy was limping and keeping one wing open. I made sure she had enough to eat and drink as she wasn't going downstairs much, but stayed in the nest box a lot. A few days later her droppings were green and runny although she'd not had any greens to eat, so hubby took her to the vet. The vet said there wasn't much hope for her if she had green, runny droppings and also felt lumps inside her rear end.

Paralysis and tumours are symptoms of Marek's disease, and although it was less obvious with Betsy, it was pretty obvious Robyn had most of the symptoms, including a film covering at least one eye at the end. I'd ruled it out to begin with because I thought they were vaccinated against it, but it seems the vaccine doesn't always work.


  1. Dreadful news and disease. Sorry they are no longer with you, there isn't a cure for Marek's and the vaccine is not 100% prevention.

    I hope your mother-in-law is on the mend x

  2. Thanks, Karen. I'm afraid it's not obvious that mother-in-law is likely to mend, I'm afraid. She seems to be slipping away.

  3. oh that's so sad - I'm afraid I'm talking hens here. Nicola

  4. Yes, we were sorry to lose them, but they were about 3 years old, which isn't so young for a hen. Robyn had been our favourite, so that was saddest. We're still watching Amber carefully.


I look forward to reading your comments, it's always good to hear encouraging words or relevant hints and tips.