I think we are coming to the end of the road with Sparkle

Yesterday morning Sparkle half heartedly joined in with the morning corn. After that she refused anything I offered her. The only thing she does now is a little preening. She was always the girl that preened the most and had the fluffiest feathers and in fact still does.

The rest of the day she just sits, sometimes in a patch of sun, sometimes on a perch and often on the table.

At one point her flock mates joined her on the table.

Five girls on the table

Five girls on the table

Topaz is sitting at the back, Peaches and Barley are the book ends and Emerald is on the right, Sparkle is in the front. Honey was in the nest box trying to lay her egg (she takes ages) and Toffee always a bit of a loner was wandering around the run.

I visited Jackie and her flock today and then bought her here to visit my flock and see what she thought about Sparkle. Sparkle was always a favourite of Jackie’s and I wanted her opinion on the situation. I told her that I am at a crossroads where I don’t want to give up on Sparkle too soon if there is a chance for her but I don’t want her to suffer either.

I am afraid of giving up too soon but equally I know that chickens hide their suffering and I don’t want Sparkle to starve herself to a slow death and suffer. I picked Sparkle up and gave her to Jackie to hold as she did a few weeks ago. Jackie said she could feel how much thinner Sparkle was. Sparkle had always been our fat hen which may be why she has survived this for so long. She always had the biggest appetite and was plump with a waddle in her walk. Now she doesn’t look so bad as she has the fluffiest feathers of all but when picked up she feels so much thinner than she did.

All she does now is eat a little corn in the morning, preen a little and then sit all day much of the time dosing. Sometimes when sitting she has her head down and her sad eyes keep shutting. I can see her in eyes that things are badly wrong with her.

Jackie said that she felt only a miracle could help Sparkle now and that I have to make the tough decision to end her suffering because keeping her going is for me and not what is best for Sparkle. I have done every thing in my power to help her but it’s been a month now and whereas with Emerald and Amber I could entice them to eat and build their strength with Sparkle the refusal to eat anything makes any progress impossible.

I can hardly bare to make this decision but I know in my heart that I need to make it soon for Sparkle’s sake. I almost hope to find her gone in the morning but that is only to make it easier for me and I wonder how long she can linger on if she just starves herself.

I know that I must make this awful decision very soon. I will give it one more day and then I must decide.

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8 Responses to I think we are coming to the end of the road with Sparkle

  1. Jackie says:

    I know this was difficult for you to write but sometimes things become clearer when you write them down .
    Seeing Sparkle yesterday I could see she was not good.
    She stayed in the same position all the while I was there and her head was down and her eyes kept closing .
    When she was picked up I could feel every bone.
    I think if it was me ( and it isn’t ) I would take her to the vet.
    You have done all you can . There is no point in putting it off for your sake as well as hers .

    • I know you are right but it is still so hard. This morning she had a little corn and a token scratch at the soil as if she is trying so hard to do some chickeny things. I tried to get her to eat some spinach and she did peck one of the other girls away but is too slow to get much of anything.

      I know that this is the best of her and she will now sit for the rest of the day. I am just going to give it today before I make the dreaded decision.

  2. David says:

    So very difficult for you; it doesn’t matter how often we face these decisions, they are never any easier. Unfortunately, longevity for our girls is the exception, not the rule. Really feel for you, but you consistently put your hens’ welfare first – no one could do more.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am struggling with this. I suppose I could say I was lucky that I only had to make this decision once before with Treacle and it was clearer to me because she had given up and stood all day under the bush or by the water and the last day just sat in the nest box. I took her indoors and had her sat on my lap while the other girls laid their eggs. I knew it was time.

      With Sparkle it’s hard because briefly in the morning she looks like she wants to join in but then she just sits all day. I have just given the bedtime scratch and she ignores it and makes her way to the bedtime perch long before the others. I hold some seeds and corn in front of her beak and she turns her head away.

      I will try to make my decision tomorrow. I know in my heart that she won’t get better and therefore it’s only prolonging it for her but it’s so hard to give up on her.

  3. Jillian says:

    Aww, how sad.
    I’m sure that Sparkle has had great years with you, and both the girls and you will miss her dearly if it comes time.
    On a happier note, there is a small chance that she’ll get better. Small, but don’t stop believing! (Like the song…?)

    Our chicks have been growing fast, and now have longer legs. They still follow mom though, and can pop through holes in the fence to try and find her outside. Little do they know that she’s in the coop, so my sister and I go outside and just scoop them up and pop them in back by mom. Sillies…

    • I know in my heart that won’t get better, she is too far gone now and just refusing to eat. I must make the awful decision soon. I have only had Sparkle a year so it is much too soon but I think there must be something internally wrong.

      Chicks just grow up so fast. They must be such a joy.

  4. Amy says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry. It’s just never an easy thing. But it does seem as though something is very wrong internally and it’s something she’s not going to recover from. Take lots of photos and cherish these times. She’s a beautiful bird.


    • You are right, I know that she can’t recover now and that there must be something internally wrong.

      I have been taking photos every day because I am always aware they may be the last and she is still so beautiful.

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