This is Delilah. She is one of our three lovely hens. We have had our ladies Lily, Ruby and Delilah since last May. When we first brought them home, only Ruby was laying, but the other two soon caught up and we were delighted to be receiving two to three eggs a day. Treasure!
One day last autumn, we closed them off from their laying quarters inadvertently for most of the day, so they were unable to lay their eggs (hens require a quiet, private place to lay happily -at least ours do). The next day Ruby and Lily laid flat eggs (!) and Delilah never laid again, until this week!
Not long after locking them out, Delilah’s comb started shrivelling and going purple and her feathers started to fall out too -she did look a sorry sight 😦
She was still eating well and acting normally – as normal as a hen can act! 😉 so I suspected she wasn’t ill, but I was still concerned when she showed no signs of improvement, so I took her to the farm where we had purchased her and the owner reassured me she was fine, just in shock. Delilah lays our biggest eggs, so I am not surprised! (Ouch!). We were advised to add Life-Guard to the water to support her recovery and I put in some crushed arnica for the shock too. It has taken a good six months for her recover. I imagine it didn’t help that it was winter, but now she is looking almost as good as new, her comb is growing and is a nice healthy red colour again. Hurrah!
Here she is at the back with her lady friends. Her comb is still a little smaller, but she looks really well with a shiny, full coat of feathers.
I thought I would share this story, as being a new hen owner I had no idea what was going on with her. Our chicken-keeping book made no mention of this and when I searched the internet under “purple shrivelled combs”, it led me to believe she might have a heart condition or some infectious disease and knowing that chickens can die from one moment to the next from illness, I was keen to know what to do. Getting to know your chickens is important so you can spot behavioural changes.
Through this experience we got the opportunity to see how the girls really care for each other. When we took Delilah away to be looked at, the other hens acted very confused and didn’t really settle until she returned. It was touching to see how delighted they were to see her back; there was a lot of contented clucking. 🙂 A friend of mine told me about one of her older hens, who became sick in her old age and went into her nesting box to die. Another older hen went in there with her and later my friend found them huddled together with the other bird’s wing cuddled around the dead bird. It really is very moving to see the close relationships animals have with each other.
This morning, we were very excited to find a clutch of three eggs in the nest box! It looks like she has made a full recovery, so this story has a happy ending 🙂