I went out to water the chickens this afternoon and noticed that one of our Speckled Sussex hens had something hanging out of her vent - a lot of something. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I think she must have had a prolapsed oviduct (which can protrude through the vent opening) that ended up getting picked at by the other hens. The injury was so severe that I was pretty sure there wasn't much that could be done for her, but I moved her into a quiet pen in the basement while I did some quick research and tried to decide what to do. After doing some reading and speaking to some chicken-keeping friends, it became clear that she wasn't going to recover. Thankfully, fate stepped in and saved us from having to put her down ourselves, as she slipped away not too long after we brought her inside. Aside from the two Salmon Faverolles chicks that we lost at 6 days old, this is the first of our hens to die.
Freckle, 5 days old.
I'm thinking she must have had something wrong with her reproductive system from the beginning, as we would occasionally (a couple of times a month) get an egg that looked like it had been difficult to pass (bloody). Still, I was really sad to lose one of these birds, as the Speckled Sussex is quite possibly my favorite breed. They're friendly, adventurous, and hardy (even during a torrential downpour, there's usually at least one Sussex out wandering around in the rain). Thankfully, it wasn't the one who spent her first few weeks sleeping in the crook of my neck that died, but her sister "Freckle". I wasn't totally sure until I went out into the coop this evening and "Speckle" came running in to see me, squawking "criiiick, criiick, criiick" in her funny, raspy voice (the only way I could tell them apart as they matured).
We've had a hell of a month with our pets, and this is incident number three, so I'm hoping we're done now.