I knew when I got chickens that they have a shorter lifespan than dogs, and worried a bit what I’d do when their time came. Well, it looks like I know now.
My first generation of chickens is now three and a half years old. They rarely lay eggs anymore, and move more slowly around the chicken yard, reveling in their status at the top of the pecking order. I feel bad when I witness some of my old favorites angrily lashing out at the young ones with their beaks to put them in their places. What cranky old ladies they have become.
Yesterday, I noticed old Isa was sitting alone on the roost in the morning. By late afternoon I peeked in and she was still there. I picked her up and petted her, checking to see that she was not injured. I set her gently on the floor and she stood up and looked at me. When I went to close up the gates in the evening, she was still in her spot on the floor so I picked her up and placed her back on the roost so she could stay warm with the flock overnight. This morning, she had passed away.
I guess that is the way to go, warm among your flock and in a safe place. Hopefully she died in her sleep. I dug a hole in the field where the chicken graveyard has gradually formed. Now, I look at my other older hens and my dear rooster, Cooper, and think sadly that their months are numbered as well. I know this is just farm life and the cycle moves on. I have learned to introduce a new generation of chicks each year and will look at them as “the class of 2016”, “2017”, etc. as we move through the years. The class of 2014 will probably always be my favorite, though, as we learned together how to live on the farm.