Sadly Violet is no more… Lily the lonesome struts around her run, crowing like a cockerel in search of someone to keep her company.
During the days following Violet’s demise Tilly, our similarly coloured cat, sat on a wooden toadstool at the end of the run keeping her company. Tilly never sits there usually, perhaps she could see that Lily was in need of a companion? When this stopped I decided to let Lily completely free range in our garden so she could seek out our company when she needed it, this was not a success as one of my twins developed a taste for chicken poo and Lily had to return to the confines of her run. We all try and visit her regularly with offerings of raspberries or something equally yummy but although chirpier I fear she is still lonely.
You might think “why has she not gone out and got another chicken or given her away!?!” Lily was a poorly girl when she arrived with us and the vet suspected she was a carrier of a very serious, sometimes fatal, infectious respiratory disease called Mycoplasma. When carriers become stressed their symptoms may reappear and spread to other birds. Introducing her to a new flock or giving her a new friend may cause stress and illness. My twins are suffering from their second round of tonsillitis in 3 weeks with only 3 days of almost recovered joy in between. Sleep is a distant memory for us all, so just the thought of sick chickens to care for too is exhausting and frankly impossible.
A recent chat with the chicken vet left us with two feasible options; the safe option is a lonesome Lily or the riskier is a rescue hen that has come to the end of its short working life. Rescue hens (from colony cages) are extensively vaccinated so in theory should be protected against an outbreak however as they get older the vaccine wears off and she may become more susceptible to future outbreaks. So here is our dilemma…