Punker didn’t make it

Early this morning we checked on Punker and found that she had died. Lee brought her outside to do a chicken autopsy so we could figure out what had lodged in her crop. It was then that he realized that I had no clue where a chicken crop was. (In my defense, I was only the assistant during the chicken butchering.) Lee could feel that her crop was fine. He also checked her neck and it felt fine. There was no hard lump. This is where I feel really stupid. If Lee moved her neck a certain way, it became that weird hard lump in the front of her that I felt when we were taking care of her last night. Since Punker’s weird lump was her neck and not a blockage, the autopsy was canceled. Lee figured it was unlikely he could identify any other problems that weren’t as obvious as “choked to death.”

I feel bad that our two Polish hens both seemed to die without much reason. I like trying new breeds and I honestly picked out the Polish breed because they were cute and they fit my smaller chicken criteria. I didn’t stop to think that they might not be the best breed to go with our super aggressive free ranging Lakenvelders. Sometimes I could just kick myself.

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19 Responses to Punker didn’t make it

  1. too bad..cute bird. We like different breeds too but some just don’t work well together..Ma and T-Bar hate gonzo and hoppy oour peafowl and no neck feather birds..but it has only made the 2 of them closer. hehe

    I have a philosopy on chickens though..they have a much better life on a farm even if it is shorter..I know if I was a polish hen I would rather 7 months of freedom vs 15 weeks in an industrial farm. When our last chicken died we felt bad so we went to dinner and cried in our beer when we at our 40 chicken wings..’why do chickens need to die..pass the ranch sauce..’

    • lee says:

      Yeah, we felt extra bad for Punker because she was often in a small pen within the chicken lot because the rest of the flock would pull out her feathers and make her bleed. We were keeping her separate until the last three (four?) roosters get slaughtered … but I suppose even in the pen she had it much better than the industrial birds.

      And thanks for the laugh … bemoaning your livestock while dining out on a meal of industrial meat is an irony that we are guilty of as well. 🙂

  2. Ann says:

    RIP Punker. That makes me sad.

    And don’t kick yourself. You tried, that’s all anyone can ask.

  3. Rae says:

    🙁 Sorry to hear that you lost her. We’ve been pretty lucky with ours, other than the Henry Massacre and one that the cat got, but I keep expecting something to happen, with all the weird chicken death stories I read. Are you going to try another new breed next spring? For small size and great foraging ability, we really like our little blue andalusian. Our ameraucanas are also neat little birds.

    • lee says:

      I don’t expect we will get any more chickens for a year or more, especially after the fiasco this summer. We have 7 Lakenvelder, a Cochin, and 3-4 Aruacana hens in our new flock alone. Future breeds depend on how the current flock does in the long term I suppose. There are a few locally developed breeds around here, and I’m interested in trying one of those.

  4. B.C. says:

    1. Love your blog. I read it often. I have tried to do simliar but I just don’t write worth a darn. I feel that you two are pretty much living the same path as my wife and I are. Small farm, chickens, horses, dogs and cats.

    Anyway – what finally prompted me to comment was that I had a chicken necrospy (autopsy) done for free through a program that Indiana Animal Disease and Diagnostic lab which is located at Purdue. The normal fee for the necrospy is 60.00, but they had some state grant that allowed them to do backyard chickens for free. It might be worth looking into. We had bought some birds at the state fair and they kept dying one by one. I finally called around and found the IADDL and had them to the necrospy which showed Merricks disease which explained why all my birds weren’t dying – I had the merricks vaccination given on all the birds that I had bought online. Your state Animal disease office might have a simliar program.

    • lee says:

      Thanks for the compliments! That’s a good idea about looking for a local source for a necropsy. We seem to loose a bird about every 6 months, and they never have any signs of illness or physical damage. With this one, she hadn’t started laying yet and probably should have … I wondered if that had something to do with it.

  5. Phoebe says:

    After many years of chicken fun and tragedy I can empathize and laugh at the same time. (“autopsy was cancelled”). In my mind, the great thing about chickens is they don’t have to be taken to the vet. I am almost positive that chickens are Buddhists. They are O.K. with dieing, they know they will be back.
    As far as kicking yourself, I don’t recommend it, in this instance at least. You are on a journey to learn. You can’t do anything better than learn from your experiences. Chickens are weird and they, like their relatives the Dinosaurs, die in strange ways. Sometimes for no obvious reason, even for the most experienced poultry farmer.
    Punker R.I.P. you crazy chick.

    • lee says:

      I told Robin that the most depressing think about Punker dying was that none of the other chickens would miss her. I suppose that’s a positive when you turn a rooster into chicken dinner. Although, our hens would hold a party to count all their additional tail feathers.

      Living on a “farm” does put you in closer contact with life and death than most typical Americans experience at this point: from baby chicks to dead hens and from bee swarms to half-dead mice roughed up by our cat. Glad to hear we aren’t the only ones with mysteriously dead chickens. There seems to be a rule of life that the more readily a species reproduces the great their rate of unexplained death.

  6. Benita says:

    I am sorry to hear Punker didn’t make it, but that’s life on a farm, isn’t it? Part of that learning curve we all have to go through. Still, they are fun-looking chickens and I think you should try them again next year and drop the mean ones.

    • lee says:

      Yeah, we definitely have a whole new set of factors to consider when we pick out future chicken breeds. The other half of life on the farm is that sometimes things die and you don’t know why.

  7. Sorry about Punker. The more we experiment with chicken breeds, the better I like Rhode Island Reds. No funky feathers, no interesting personalities, but they’ve become our go-to chicken. They lay like gangbusters and seldom get sick or go broody.

    But I love funky feathers and interesting personalities, so we have a very varied flock. If I needed eggs to pay the mortgage, though, it would be all RIRs, all the time.

    But EGB’s comment is spot-on. You gave your chicken a good life, even if it was short.

    • lee says:

      I love RIR’s too! Actually, ours have always been pretty cool in the personality department. They are the chickens out in front to see new places and the ones that complain the least when picked up. We’ve had very few health issues with them as well. Maybe one day when Robin gets tired of buying interesting & fragile chickens we’ll have a boring & reliable flock of RIR’s as well. 🙂

  8. Lynn says:

    I’m sorry about Punker. It happens. We have a chicken burial ground for all that we’ve lost.

    • Lynn says:

      Lol, now that i think about it, the chicken burial ground is near the human cemetary… one day someone will be looking into the cemetary and will find all these little bones and think they’re children or something, till they look closer and see beaks!

    • robin says:

      We don’t really have a burial ground per say. Usually Lee just goes out to the field and digs a really deep hole.

  9. Carri Dawn says:

    I am loving your Blog and inspired to help by starting my own!!
    We raise 60 + hens and 1 Roo.. It has taken us 2.5 years to get the PERFECT (for US) grouping and type. My thing is we sell the eggs for 4$ a dozen and 6$ for an 18 pack, with that kind of pressure I need to make the eggs come CONSTANTLY and be large and COLORFUL!! Customers love the variety…etc
    SOOO I would put your hens on Craigs List at 25$ a hen and even set them up as a FLOCK that way they all go together(predators eat White chickens FIRST) so onto what we raise and love!!

    10 Americaunas.. love the range of blue and green eggs, they are hardy in rain and cold and friendly..Not huge layers and finish off their great laying at 2.5 years (slow producers after that) MED EGGS/ ocassional Large or Double

    40 (20/20) Production Red and Production Black… Great Layers EVERYDAY!! and they are brown and Pink eggs great size and you can really count on them through SNOW and COLD!! Nice Large EGGS

    3 Blue Copper Marans (dark Chocolate eggs) Hassle and they are lazy layers , rooster is productive and changes all of the egg colors to Olive green to medium brown, I personally won’t pay the money for these guys again.

    10 Jersey Giants Good Brown Eggs (large chicken) they are ok but tend to quit laying in cold (arrrgh) so …. this year I will be switching them out for

    WELSUMMERS whom are great against coyotes and friendly and lay the most beautiful terracotta eggs!!
    Have fun and get those LKV out of there if they make you unhappy , there are great fun breeds that give as much as you do!!

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