Whether you are just starting out in your backyard chicken keeping adventures or you’re already an old hand at it one thing is for certain. At some point along the way we all find ourselves facing the sadness of losing ” one of the flock”. As if that isn’t hard enough then comes the pressing issue of what to do with the body once a feathered friend has flown the coop, as it were.
If you fall amongst the many backyard chicken keepers who love your chickens with the same depth and adoration you do your family dog or other farm animals and want to pursue a private backyard burial then the first thing you might do it call your local city or town to see if there are any laws against burring a dead chicken in your backyard. In our town of Plymouth, MA. we don’t have any strict regulations one way or another regarding even keeping backyard chickens so what we do is ( and this might sound heartless to many ) place our beloved feathered friend in a plastic grocery bag and hall it off to the local land fill with our weekly load of trash and recyclables. But, not after we all have a few moments of quiet to say our good byes and thank yous of course. Yes! We thank our girls regularly for the bounty they provide and the endless entertainment! Don’t you? The idea of burring our fallen girls in the backyard has crossed my mind, but our 1/2 acre isn’t fenced which may or may not invite loose dogs in the neighborhood, coyotes or even flying predators.
|Chestnut ( Easter-egger chicken )|
Losing a chicken is an unpleasant topic to read ( or write ) about but we all go through it as chicken keepers. The photo below is the second to last of our first flock of eight we had left until yesterday. Our daughter named her Chestnut when she was a wee little chick fresh from the feed store because she was a solid fuzzy brown color which reminded her of the color of a chestnut. As she got older the white laced edges appeared on the tips of her feathers but she was always a deep brown underneath. I always thought it was a funny name for a chicken but she eventually grew into her name and after a while it seemed perfect for her. Especially because she was the only one in our flock with that coloring. She was eight years old.
She was a gentle hen; always pleasant and one of our most affectionate. She knew her name and always came when we called to her. We’ll miss her and I know the rest of her ” flock” will too.
I don’t know what the cause of death was. Perhaps she was just old and her little chicken heart failed her or she had a respiratory issue which is common among older hens.We’ve not yet taken any or our hens ( on the verge of perishing) to the vet. I’m afraid it’s not in the budget on our little backyard homestead so we let nature take it’s course. That being said, if we ever did have a hen who was just sickly but not so far gone I would not hesitate to gather her up and out to see what was ailing her. So far though, by the time we notice a hen is ill, its usually in the final stages of life which is a blessing for the chicken and us!
So, what do you do when you lose a member of your flock? What methods of disposing the body can you share with our community of chicken lovers? I’m sure we can all benefit from your wise counsel!
In the meantime happy and healthy chicken keeping to you all!