Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life and death and cannibalism on the farm

Bet that title got your attention, didn't it? First the sad news: I found Chicky the hen keeled over dead in the coop this morning. She was ill about a month ago, I treated her with antibiotics and isolated her, she improved, I put her back in with the general population and then weeks later she  started looking not herself. Looks like she went to sleep last night and never woke up. She was 2-1/2 years old.

Chicky (right) and her buddy Anastasia in 2010.

Chicky (who was the runt of our first group of chicks but a real survivor) has had many adventures described on this blog: spa day, "I am Chicken, Hear me whup Beaker's *ss",  model for a beautiful cake creation by Ronna, Hen Superstar, and many, many more. 

She was a spunky, amusing little hen and will be very much missed by us, and especially her Auntie Ronna. We will name one of the new hens Chicky II in her honour. Gordon will give Chicky a decent burial in the chicken graveyard this afternoon. I am almost starting to get used to things dropping dead around here. :( I am definitely not cut out to be a real farmer!

Onto the cannibalism...

Why, might you ask, do I have a duckling in my bathtub?

Don't YOU spend your Saturday nights giving ducklings warm baths?

The duckling temporarily known as Brownie. That has changed since yesterday!

Because YESTERDAY, Brownie got a bleeder. I think he broke a pinfeather on his wing, but regardless, the bleeding set off a frenzy of pecking by his siblings. Poultry just love it when someone starts bleeding. They'll start pecking and won't stop until the victim is maimed or dead, so you have to isolate the bleeder until the wound has healed.

In the space of ten minutes last night, Brownie went from having one broken pinfeather to having two bleeding wings, courtesy of his cannibalistic siblings! I took him out of the duck run, getting blood and duck poop all over my raincoat in the process. 

Since it was cold and windy last night, I decided to bring Brownie inside to wash him off with warm water. He had a lovely soak in the tub, followed by a rubdown. The bleeding had stopped, but we decided to keep him in a cage on the front porch overnight.

"I quite like being a house duck!"

After the bath, Brownie enjoyed some naptime on my lap.

He looks very pleased with himself! He's the biggest of all the ducklings, almost as large as his Mama.

Gordon came and joined us as we relaxed in the bathroom for a spell.

 This morning I decided to try reintegrating Brownie, since the bleeding had stopped and I couldn't even see any redness on his pinfeathers.

He lasted three minutes in the coop before he was bleeding again, thanks to his carnivorous siblings. He's back on the front porch until further notice. His new name? Hannibal. (Yes, I realize Hannibal is the cannibal, not the cannibalized, but I couldn't help myself.)

Video to follow!


  1. this habit of literally eating a bleeder "alive" is so common isnt it?
    especially with hens..
    horrible to watch
    well done for moving quickly
    and well done for those lovely photos!

  2. My condolences for Chicky...I never thought I'd feel badly for a chicken but there you are! In fact, I've quit eating meat lately, I couldn't justify it. Unlike your cannibalistic ducks...shame on them.

  3. Oh my gosh, I just love the photo of you and the duck on your lap. The look on his face is priceless.
    Sorry about Chicky. If I had married a farmer they would be taking me away in a straight jacket. I too am not cut out for this stuff.

  4. I'm sorry to hear about Chicky, may she rest in peace.

    Poor Hannibal, poultry can be so vicious can't they?

  5. Oh, he's a lovely duck! I'm so sorry about Chicky. It's always such a sad thing to find one dead like that. xoxoxo

  6. Anonymous5:24 pm

    I too am sorry about Chicky. You really did everything you possibly could for her.

    A house duck! Maybe we'll be seeing photos of Brownie sprawled out over your computer like Julius soon.

  7. I'm sorry to hear about Chicky. My condolances.

    I was horrified to learn about the duck cannibalism! You've done a good job of protecting Brownie.

  8. Sorry about Chicky the Hen. Brownie/Hannibal is quite handsome. And I bet he does like being a house duck.

  9. John, it's appalling! I tried putting Hannibal back in the run last evening and within two minutes, two of his sisters were hanging off his wings and making them bleed again. So I guess he'll be residing on the porch a little bit longer!

  10. Katnip, thank you. I need to stop eating meat too!

  11. Deb, I am getting a little more used to chickens kicking the bucket but it's not easy!

    Thanks, LBM. And when poultry see blood, it's never pretty! Little vampires.

    Isobelle, Gordon gave her a decent burial last night. She was a good chicken.

    TTPT. I HOPE NOT! That's all I need, another animal lounging on my desk. :)

  12. Ahab, nature gets ugly at times! :) The ducklings do it in a nonchalant sort of way. It's not like they are aggressive, more like they're thinking "Man, this is tasty! I gotta me some more of this red stuff!" Peck peck peck, nibble nibble nibble... urgh!

    Garden of Daisies, thank you and welcome. I do wonder what the cats would think of a house duck.

  13. RIP Chickie.
    Loved your adventures. You will be missed.

  14. Anonymous11:36 am

    So sad to hear about Chicky.

    I never heard of poultry cannibalism before. Nice catch. Hannibal is one lucky duckling.

  15. Cog Dis, I am trying to decide if they are vampires or cannibals or both! Whatever, they remain adorable! Cute little bloodsuckers.


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!