Last weekend, we had to put our new chicken, Becky, down. It was a really really hard decision, but I think it was the right one. Becky had been showing some clear signs of respiratory disease: a smelly crust in her nostrils, sneezing and a rattle in her chest when she breathed. I did a lot of research in my chicken books and online, and, unfortunately, I realized that she seemed to have infectious coryza. This is a very serious and contaigous disease found in poultry. She likely caught it at the feed store, since she was in quarantine the whole time we had her at our house. I looked into treatment, but the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that we should cull her. Even if she had got over her symptoms, Becky would have always been a carrier of coryza and would have spread it to Lisa and Jackie. So, it was the right thing to do both for Becky and for our other chickens.
Of course, killing Becky was the last thing we wanted to do. Many tears were shed. I wanted to do it humanely, but was pretty certain that neither Dakota nor I would be able to cut off her head, which is the generally agreed upon quickest and least cruel way to kill a chicken. It turned out, I was able to find a way to kill her gently. We used automobile starter fluid, which contains ether. We sprayed the fluid on some paper towels and then put a Becky in a bucket with the towels. The ether puts the chicken to sleep, and then she suffocates in her sleep. It was very sad, but I think Becky went peacefully. After she died, we had to burn Becky's body. We also either burned or washed with bleach everything else she'd ever touched. That's how serious infectious coryza is. Scary stuff.
We said goodbye to Becky on July 5. We only had her a week, but she was a very sweet and pretty little chicken. I'm sad we never got to know her.
Today, we had another tough loss. As you know, Jackie has been sick for several months now. Tonight, when I got home from work, she was lying very still on the side of the run with her legs stretched out and her eyes closed. She's certainly been weak lately, but I didn't expect to lose her this soon. I thought she was already dead, but she was still moving a bit. I tried to move her towards water in case she was dehydrated and went to call Dakota. By the time I got back to the run, Jackie had died. I was very sad to lose such a sweet chicken, and I imagine Lisa is pretty upset, too. We'll miss Jackie. I hope she's in a better chicken place now.
So, as you can imagine, things are kind of melancholy in our coop at the moment. Life must go on, though, and I plan to get some baby chicks very soon. Lisa needs some companions, as chickens are social animals and don't like to live alone.
Here's Jackie, basking in the sun, in happier times.