Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Life with Aging Hens

Sleeping standing up

When we first purchased the chicks I knew they would not live forever. As their average life expectancy is five to seven years, I knew that meant that some hens might die sooner and others later. This was merely an average. Unfortunately lately, Tilly has been showing her age and my mind can’t help but fill with questions.

When Tilly was ten weeks old, she suffered a bout with gape worms. From across the yard, I could hear her “honking” and rasping. We took a trip to the vet. Of course, it was early in my chicken keeping days and it took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on. Her recovery was difficult. The illness was very hard on her body. Yet, here we are four years later. Overall, we’ve had to make some accommodations for our aging girls, you see our entire flock is now considered “old”.

Eggs production definitely declines and becomes sporadic. Sometimes we go for days on end without eggs and then all of sudden five lay eggs on one day.

They move slower.

They take more naps.

Some prefer the lower roosts now and don’t feel like going all the way up at night.

They sometimes need a bit of help keeping their fluffy bottoms clean.

But…

They still have a lust for life.

They still are curious as ever.

They will move quickly for a freshly found bug!

They love their treats and goodies from the kitchen and gardens.

They will never pass up a good dust bath, especially with friends.

They still have disagreements.

Sunshine is still the head of predator patrol.

The pecking order remains unchanged.

They still go broody.

I’m not sure what the future will hold for Tilly. Nowadays, I mostly find her napping during the afternoons and resting in a large dirt hole. She hasn’t laid an egg in weeks, yet she still enjoys hanging out in the boxes now and then. She is still quick when I toss treats into the run and her curiosity to explore her surroundings is voracious each morning. Sometimes, her tail is down as she stands in the run-just there daydreaming. I know we’ve given her a wonderful life. She is lucky to still have her original flock with her from her first day on this earth. I think her survival has a lot to do with being part of this family of hens. I loved them as chicks, but I love them more as old ladies! We couldn’t ask for a sweeter group of girls, of course with Tilly at the helm.

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