Sunday, September 25, 2011

Attack of the Killer Hens, Part 1

During the hiatus, I wrote briefly about a little chick that had been attacked.  This is the whole story.

Mrs. Hotel called me on the cell just as I was leaving the dump.  I can usually tell within the first three words she utters what mood she's having.  She rarely speaks urgently.  Unfortunately, this happened to be one of those times.

I have a mental checklist of what I don't want her to be urgent about.

1.)  Her health

2.)  The kids

3.)  My people in Maine

4.)  Her family here

Well, it was none of the above. 

A week earlier we found out that two of our hens were actually roosters and swaped them in for two younger hens.  I think the new hens were about 12 weeks old.  In addition, the lady said that she felt bad and threw in a 6 week old chick.  Her instructions were to give the chick a place to hide, but let her run with the flock immediately.  Right.

The first few days were good.  She was a fiesty chick and an escape artist.  Several times she sat at our door peeping and we had no clue how she got out.  Beyond that, she'd jump into the tussle for food scraps and ran rather fast when needed.

Mrs. Hotel wasn't frantic.  Concerned.  Urgently.

She explained that they had gone to the grocery store for an hour and when they returned, the eldest child checked the pen and started screaming.  The hens had cornered the chick and literally scalped her.  There wasn't even a scrap of flesh left on her head.  Mrs. Hotel also added that she thought she could see the little hen's brain.

I was headed to my friend's house for a rum drink and some food packing.  I pulled a U turn and headed for the H.H.A.  I thought of the ways I was going to have to off that poor little bird.  Probably would be easiest to just wring its neck. 

I walked into the house.  The mother-in-law and eldest child were sobbing and Mrs. Hotel looked stressed.  I looked down at the chick and saw that her condition was pretty much what Mrs. Hotel had described, minus the brains.  In addition, her face had been somewhat detached and slid forward, leaving her with blinders over her eyes.  Pieces of her ears were missing.  It was grim.

I pulled the kids together and had a discussion about being humane and how it is sometimes better to just end it rather than let an animal suffer.  We called L.J. as well, being that it was his chicken and gave him the situation.  I asked for his vote and he told me he couldn't decide.  Part of me wanted to let loose on him and tell him to man up.  Then I remembered he is only eleven.  You can't do that to a kid that hasn't been raised to think in terms of the circle of life.

I listened to his vote.

To be continued......


  1. Sometimes, animals can be disgustingly like humans.

  2. This is very true Mr. Smythe.

    We had Peacocks for a while and both males and females would heard our Guineas down the rock pile by our house to the road and hold them their until they were hit by cars; the females would peck young chicks on the head and kill them instantly ... this happened with two different sets of birds. We couldn't release chicks until they were over pullet size to keep this from happening ( until my dad had me shoot the peacocks off the roof one day because he was tired of not wasting money on chickens: yes ... he is a strange man. The only thing you can do Mr. Hotel is keep them separated and caged until they are adults and can fight back. Which honestly, is strange to me.

  3. Yikes. Well, it's good to know about these kinds of things for when I start raising chickens. Keep us informed!