There was a death in the family yesterday. One of the red layer hens died in the coop.
They do that. They go in the coop (not the nest box), hunch up, pull in their feet and their heads, close their eyes, and go to “sleep”- really a pre-death trance. Their combs go pale, and they depart slowly.
The whole transition seems very peaceful, and like death happens by degrees. You can look at them in the last hours, and they aren’t dead yet, but they aren’t all there either. They’re mostly dead (couldn’t resist).
Usually I find them stretched out, one leg extended, and head stuck out, like their last act is one last stretch.
Yesterday HW alerted me there was a “chicken emergency” in Bravo coop, and it was a chicken on her way out. She’s old. I got generic red layers on three occasions, when others were getting rid of them (this is a chicken rest home), so I can’t be sure what set she’s from, but she’s somewhere upwards of 6 years old. She was already sprawled, and she onlybriefly opened her eye when I pet her. We left her to finish her departure at peace in her home.
What was new, though, is that in the morning, other chickens were holding a wake. Five of them skipping breakfast to stand around her in the coop. I’ve never seen that before, but it’s possible I just missed the time of the ceremony. Cheeks flipped out once over a dead hen. Ravens are known to hold wakes or funerals – I’ve seen it. But not…chickens.