Last night I went out to the chicken coop and noticed one of my hens was off by herself. This is not that uncommon for this particular chicken. She is somewhat of a loner, and I have said for several months that something looks “off” about her. I called her over to me and she came hopping over, clearly not using her left leg. The Reluctant Farmer scooped her up, turned her over and I examined her leg. It wasn’t swollen, hot or deformed. She just wouldn't use it, and you could tell it was painful. I watched her for a while and she just kept flipping the lifeless leg out in front of her. It was such an effort for her to get back inside the coop that she would just lie down by the ramp instead of going inside to roost or eat.
I thought about separating her from the rest of the flock, but after discussing it with a friend, who is more knowledgeable on chicken illnesses, it was decided that the best thing would be to just put her out of her misery. And with the help of Brent, that is just what we did. It was fast, painless, and she is no longer suffering.
I know there are people that won’t agree with this decision, and there will be people that will insist I should have taken her to the veterinarian, had x-rays performed, etc. However, at the end of the day, this is a farm, not a petting zoo. It is not a wise business decision to spend hundreds of dollars on a small fraction of your livestock. I have to protect the rest of my flock from the possibility of contracting a deadly disease and more importantly, I never want any animal in my care to suffer.
Sometimes in life, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a living being….