Charlotte bit the dust yesterday. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. She ate a whole pound of ground turkey along with a butt load of corn and choked herself to death! Apparently her mother never taught her to share.
How is that possible? I have to say I don’t ever plan to have Americana chickens again. In my experience, they have to be the stupidest chickens on the planet.
I went out to pick up eggs yesterday afternoon and noticed Charlotte was sitting on the ground in normal chicken repose. The problem was she didn’t stand up when I came near her, which is abnormal behavior for Charlotte, to be sure.
When I walked over to see what the problem was, she keeled over and went into spasms. I tried doing Reiki on her and petted her. She gagged, continued to spasm, laid her head back and died.
At first I thought, maybe she got tangled in some netting and broke her neck, so I removed the netting from over the roost so Rosie couldn’t get tangled in it. As I picked Charlotte up, I thought her chest felt weird, like she had two breast bones. That’s when I realized her craw was huge and distended- beyond full. She ate so much food it blocked her trachea and she suffocated.
The tragic accident happened in the middle of a busy day. All I could do was lay her in the garden until day’s end, which turned out to be eleven pm. So there I was, once again, out in the garden at night with a flashlight digging a burial hole.
The whole scenario made me think about my backyard neighbor Mary Anne and some of the stories she told me about the folks who used to live in my house. Apparently they would dig holes in the backyard in the middle of the night, which created some suspicion in Mary Anne’s mind. The house was owned by a purported drug dealer and a bunch of Marines sharing the house with him. As I shoveled out the dirt, I wondered if instead of illegal drugs or money, they were burying dead animals too.
Now Rosie is all alone and I feel like I should get a couple more chickens to rear so she’ll have company. They won’t be Americana’s though. I think I’ll go back to Rhode Island Reds. They, at least, seem to have half a brain.
It has come to my attention in the week since Charlotte ate herself into oblivion, it’s not all that uncommon for chickens to eat themselves to death. Several old timers who were “reared on the farm” have told me tales about going out in the chicken pen, seeing a chicken in distress and taking measures to save its life.
These measures aren’t pretty. It entails cutting open the craw of the distressed chicken, pulling out the partially masticated, lodged food and sewing it back up with a sewing needle and thread.
I keep hearing the words tough old bird in my head and wondering how hard it is to perform this rescue. Exactly how tough is chicken skin? It certainly holds onto feathers with a tenacious grip. Do you sew the skin only, or down into the craw layer too after removing the obstructing food? What do you use to cut the craw open, scissors or a knife? Do you remove the stitches in a week to ten days? Are the chickens so out of it they just lie there and let you work on them, or do you need an extra pair of hands? Don’t they get upset and start flapping around once they can breathe again? I’ll have to see if there’s a U-tube video of this procedure for further edification.
Rosie is in a new home with lots of chickens for company. My hope is she’s happy and laying eggs with gusto.