The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

If you keep livestock you will always have dead stock

very young Dixie Chick

very young Dixie Chick

S told me this a few months ago. The livestock part is great and the dead stock element is always upsetting.

One of the most satisfying things for us is to raise our own stock. The bond between you and the young is much stronger. You have waited impatiently through the gestation period to marvel at their first faltering steps. Each small life becomes part of your life.  We are not commercial producers and our diminutive flock insures that each member is cherished.

Dixie Chick seemed to recover well from her bout of chestiness but two days ago I noticed that she was sneezing and shaking her head in between bullying her brother and acting like a busy young chick. Dixie and Beatyl enjoyed a close relationship. There was always a cheep and a soft reassuring answering cheep when I lowered the portcullis after dark.

Honey is a natural antibiotic, so a warm honey infused mash was served in the castle grounds. Dixie was enthusiastic about this treat. But despite this her feathers were puffed up and she just didn’t look right.
“If she survives this frosty week. I reckon that she’ll be OK,” Tessa remarked as we watched the young chickens. “Although a sick bird is generally a dead bird in my books.”

This morning, Mrs Boss and Beatyl rushed from the Emerald Castle to enjoy the warm mash. I opened the side of the castle wall and discovered that Dixie had died during the night. She was lying in the newspaper nest, quite cold.

Dixie Cick and Mrs Boss yesterday

Dixie Chick and Mrs Boss yesterday

We’re upset. We were fond of this beautiful little chick but are now more concerned about Beatyl. He has lost his playmate. When he is a bit more mature we plan to buy him a beautiful Golden Sebright wife. But until that time he just has the companionship of Mrs Boss.

When I went down to the castle this evening there was no cheep.

Just a deep silence.


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18 Comments

  1. hi feona
    well today again i have a sad news to share if u remember i hatched 6 chicks from one chicken and a bantam chick from other hen one day one of the mother some how crossed over the fence between there places and the two mothers had enormous fight injuring the bantams mother a lot any how then i separated them but the more injured chicken died 2 days ago don’t know the reason as her wounds were getting better and she seemed OK too my husband who is a medical doctor thinks that she might have some hidden wound which got infected and caused her death i introduced the bantam orphan chick to the other family of 6 chicks but the mother hen is too aggressive she started pecking it so i removed the chick immediately now i have placed another chick with the little orphan in a brooding box just to give him some company :(but it really brakes my heart to see that lonely sole

  2. I am very sorry about your little Dixie Chick. I know what that feels like, when an animal you’ve cared for so much dies. Recently my banty hens hatched and raised one tiny chick. He only lived for two months before dying. I am not sure of the cause, but I’m sure there were many factors. It was my first time raising a chick from scratch, so I didn’t know how to do everything. I noticed for a while that he didn’t seem to be developing correctly. So, I guess that’s life. Once again, my condolences for the loss of your birdie.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Erum

    What a shame.

    If you can, put the other sick chicken somewhere warm and comfortable. A cardboard box with a towel works well for us. Give her some water and something tempting to eat.

    I can’t advise on what is wrong or whether the other hens will be affected. You need to go onto some of the chicken forums where you can get advice from experts.

    I do hope that your hen gets well soon.

  4. hi feona ,
    well today i am going through the same feelings as u went through last year today 1 of my young chicken died God knows what happened two days ago two of my young chickens were fine playing actively yesterday they stopped eating and today 1 died and the other one is also in bad shape although i isolated them immediately when i discovered that they are a bit slow but still i am scared for the other 8chickens left.u know these all chickens are like our family members all my family loves them. any advice ?

  5. Sorry to hear about Dixie.
    My daughter is a newcomer to keeping chickens in France and has a poorly hen – nothing obviously wrong but just not right.
    I told her about your honey mash – which was news to her. Can you give more info. about the mix please.
    Thanks in advance

  6. Oh how sad Fiona – I’m so sorry. They’re like your babies.

  7. Sorry to hear about the loss of your chick. We have also found that as soon as a chicken looks under the weather we know that it will almost definitely die. Good luck with the remaining chick.

  8. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    We lost one of our hens this week, the stalwart Mrs Mussolini who was a Light Sussex. She was fine in the morning, racing out of the henhouse with the others for her breakfast; in fact I’d been more concerned about Ginger & Harebell, who have succumbed to rumbly chests over the last few days – always a worry (I’ll try the honey & see if it helps).

    In the evening I closed the door of the ‘Ark Royal’ & checked our charges’ wattles (at this time of year when the temperature drops we gently apply a little vaseline when they’re dozily roosting as it prevents frostbite). I was alarmed to count only seven hens tucked up with Myrddin the cockerel & immediately searched for the missing Mrs Mussolini. I found her, stone cold & prone, stretched out in the lambing shed with no obvious clue as to how or why she’d died. I carefully removed the body in a sack so that our flock of Silkies wouldn’t be aware of her demise (she’d died close to their henhouse).

    It’s always very sad to lose one of the animals in your care; & when it’s an apparently happy, healthy, productive member of the clan it’s somehow even more upsetting. And as you say, when it’s one that you’ve raised yourself, it’s even worse. However, the sad fact is, this will unfortunately happen again, & again, & again….part & parcel of smallholding, alas.

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