Tuesday night, we lost another chicken. Blondie - one of the survivors of the Windy Acres Chicken Massacre of 2009. As with Janis, she seemed fined. Eating and scratching with the other hens. When I went to check on the girls after sunset, she was lying on the coop floor obviously in distress. Within 15-minutes she was gone.
After losing two birds within 3.5 weeks, we decided to try and find a vet that could do a necropsy. We wanted to make sure that we didn't have some disease running rampant through our little flock. Odd that although Indiana is a large egg producing state, there seem to be few vets that deal with chickens. We ended up at All Wild Things Exotic Animal Hospital. They have been extremely helpful and kind throughout this entire ordeal.
The vet just called and said that Blondie died of polycystic liver disease. She had basically bled out into her belly. Chickens, especially layers, can be prone to fatty livers. The vet said if you have to go, this is the way to go - quick and painless. This was really shocking. Fatty livers can develop from too much fat (and corn) in their diet. For the most part, the girls get the feed designed for layers. I had only introduced some scratch into their diet within the last month or so. We may decide to have some blood work done on the other girls, checking their liver enzymes and cholesterol. but the truth is, if they already have the cysts there is nothing that can be done. if they have fatty livers, it can be reversed with changes to their diet. So, the first change is no more corn!
We had been hesitant about adding more chickens this year. Now that we are down to just three birds - we will definitely be adding more soon.