Saturday, 7 September 2013
We've Lost Miracel
It's been several days since I walked out to the chickens and discovered Miracel's sad little body in the run. She'd been poorly for the week prior to her passing but I was watching her each morning and was satisfied that she was eating. Still, her comb had shriveled in size and lost its colour and she showed signs of listlessness. In a way her symptoms were similar to Geraldine's right before we lost her, especially the way she was always at the water dish as if she were constantly thirsty.
I took Miracel to the vets this spring for an internal egg breakage and she was examined and placed on antibiotics. At the time I was sure we were going to lose her then but she made a recovery of sorts. Though she regained her vigour, she never again laid another hard shelled egg. A couple months after that she came down with a case of broodiness and would egg-nap freshly laid eggs from the other girls. It was after she'd fully broken out of being broody that she took a turn for the worse.
Another symptom of Miracel's was a bit of wheezing while she was roosting. After a morning spent Googling I'm concerned that she had some sort of illness but am not sure what it could be. Mycoplasmosis and Cholera were linked to several of the symptoms but don't seem right. Another thing that is a concern is the area where the run is located was filled in with rubble. I know that due to past mining activities on the island that some soil can be contaminated with lead and arsenic. To rule out that possibility I'm planning on taking a soil sample in to the government lab next week.
Miracel was our lead hen and had such a plucky personality, even when ill. None of the other hens dared a coup while she was around and she bonded immediately with Randy the Rooster who I always referred to as her boyfriend. I really can't believe we've lost her and I feel terrible for the other hens who lost a good leader and are now stuck with Alice the Tyrant as top ranked hen. Every time I walk past Miracel's grave under the tree in the garden I feel guilty wondering if we could have done something more to help. I'm also afraid for the chickens we have left in the case that it was some sort of contagious disease.
Fortunately they seem healthy and unaffected by illness but we'll continue to keep a close eye on them. I've also begun worming them again just in case parasites were a factor and have been adding extra supplements to their water. However, if you've had had similar experiences with sick hens I'd love to hear your advice and recommendations! It can be so frustrating as a relatively new chicken owner dealing with illness and death in the flock. Most vets don't specialise in hens and the information found in books and online can be so confusing.