one tough chicken


This is Madison, our Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. She is a champ when it comes to laying, giving us around 300 eggs over the past 12 months, rarely taking a day off. (The day off happens because her laying cycle is more than 24 hours, so eventually she runs up against the night. Chickens don’t lay at night.) This week, she proved admirable in another way.

A few nights ago, we were roused by a screaming chicken. It was a full-on blood-curdling scream. Running outside, we found the hen house doors open and us short one chicken. As we scoured the yard, we saw that feathers had flown, something had splashed around in the pool and heard yet again that horrible scream. Finally she was located in a far corner of the garden in a pile of dead leaves clearly scared out of her wits, still alive.

Getting her inside, we saw that the back part of her pea comb was ripped clear off her head. The wound hadn’t started bleeding yet, so there was time to clean it out and apply some antibacterial ointment. It was definitely weird looking under the detached comb and seeing the thin layer of flesh covering her tiny skull. Normally fussy about being picked up, she was quite happy to sit on my lap and actually leaned into my chest for an hour before we put her back outside (and made sure the doors were locked tight).

I wasn’t certain she could survive the attack. The next day she was definitely dazed and refused to come outside with the others for their afternoon free ranging. Her comb injury had been bleeding, but by that point had stopped. Luckily there weren’t any other flesh wounds, She did lose most of the feathers on her neck.

I’m guessing the attacker was a juvenile raccoon or possum that dragged her out of the hen house. They probably fell into the pool struggling and all the predator got for its trouble was a mouth full of those neck feathers. That is when she likely made her escape.

The second day after that she was perky and conducting chicken-y business as usual. It looks like her comb will heal, albeit at a funny angle.

And the third day after the attack, just like that, she was back to laying. (This is a pre-attack photo.)

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