Spring in the Garden

Spring in the Garden

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Sad Day, Ending on a Positive Note

RIP Bella
We're not very lucky with our chickens at the moment.  On Thursday evening, just as we were sitting down to dinner, we noticed a dark stain on Bella's rear end, then Amber started pecking at her.  So dinner was interrupted as we went out into the garden to separate them and see what was wrong with Bella.  As we feared, and guessed, the dark stain was blood.  I didn't take too close a look, but hubby and daughter both said there was a bit of a protrusion.  Luckily I'd had a delivery of gardening supplies in a box that was just the right size for a chicken so, after lining it with newspaper and straw we put Bella in it.  We recalled that we had seen her earlier sitting down slightly oddly, but only very slightly oddly.  We hadn't thought that could mean there was anything wrong.  You only learn that sort of thing with hindsight.

Friday morning hubby rang the vet bright and early and took Bella to see her.  It was not such a bad prolapse as Anna had had, but with Bella being a young chicken who laid eggs nearly every day, every time she laid an egg it would all come out again however many times we popped it back in again, and there would be times when we couldn't pop it back very soon as we would be at work.  So we felt we had no real choice other than to have Bella put down.  As we had had two young chickens with the same problem within a month the vet wanted to do an autopsy to check there was no underlying cause, but she found nothing obvious. Vent pecking was also ruled out as Amber did not have a bloody face.   The vet also said we should ring John Pile, the breeder, to let him know that both the Light Sussex chickens we'd bought from him in early February had had prolapses as it could be a genetic fault.

We are also wondering what we might have done wrong, but can't think of anything.  Lack of calcium can be sometimes be a cause of prolapse, but they had plenty of oyster grit.  We don't think we treated them any differently than our first three chickens. 

Obviously we were a bit sad to have lost our beautiful chicken.  Bella and Amber seemed to get on well by then, too.

We have been told that chickens don't like being alone and hubby felt he had a bit of time to spare on Friday, as our ten day Easter break was drawing to a close, so we decided to get two new chickens the same day. We went to a more local breeder called Golden Valley Poultry, who seem to have a good reputation and also rear their chickens organically and let them free range.

We chose from these 22 week old pullets and came home with a Black Rock and a Bluebelle. We decided to go for two different breeds this time to reduce the risk of both having a genetic defect. 

We quickly learnt that they needed to be kept separate as Amber climbed onto the top of the run we had them in and started to try to attack them, making the end of her comb bleed.  As it was fairly sunny we thought it would be OK to let Amber have a run round and get to know the new chooks while they were safe in the run.  We were clearly wrong.

Amber was very interested in the new arrivals
Anna and Bella were much more docile.  We did keep them separate the first day, but they all slept together the first night and came down together in the morning.  Amber was a bit aggressive and they spent the next  two days upstairs, but she didn't really attack either of them.  Then I thought to put in an extra feeder and the three of them played chase between feeders to some extent, but Amber started to tolerate them more.  Anna and Bella never fought back.

Obviously we are hoping that we will have these new chickens for a few years.


  1. I am so sorry that Anna and Bella both had prolapse problems - it is very hard to deal with in a young bird laying every day :-( so you did the right thing to have them pts.

    And the new hens will be wonderful, as well- a good choice of breeds - very friendly and good layers.

    Hope they will be with you for a long time to come.

  2. Thank you, Compostwoman. I'm glad you think they are a good choice of breeds. We've lost confidence in Light Sussex hybrids for the moment, but might try again at a later date and from a different breeder.

  3. I had a lovely Light Sussex from a reputable breeder and she faded and died on me for no obvious reason that we could see :-( It happens, sometimes :-(

  4. We may try Light Sussex again when it's time to get more birds. As it happens Golden Valley Poultry didn't have any, although the Silver Link was similar, but we didn't want to be reminded of Anna and Bella just yet, either.

  5. I can understand how you feel about that :-(

  6. Oh Karin and family, how sad to lose Anna, but then Bella so quickly too. You must not blame yourself, you have been very unlucky indeed. I think you're right in letting the breeder know, it may well be a genetic fault.

    Lovely new chickens, you did the right thing getting some new friends for Amber, hopefully she will accept them quickly. Bluebelle's are a lovely breed, they grow quite large but are meant to be pretty docile most of the time. I've been wanting one for a long time now, I have some plans up my sleeve so we shall see ;) Your other hen is stunning! Best of luck with them x

  7. Hopefully it was a genetic fault. We can't think of anything we did that was very different from the way we treated our first three hens. Smokie is quite big already. We didn't really know much about Bluebell(e)s before we got her, but I expect we are about to find out. I'll let you know how she develops. So far she is not especially placid.


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