Heart breaking, two girls put to sleep on the same day

I am writing this post in hind sight because I have been too upset to write it as it was happening. Yesterday, Thursday, I had to take both Spangle and Snowflake to the vets and they had to be put to sleep. I have never had this happen to two girls at the same time before and it has been heart breaking.

It was on Sunday that I noticed both Spangle and Snowflake were very inactive and were sitting with their eyes closing. I thought that maybe Spangle was feeling her age as she was five years old, Salmon and Spangle being the oldest we have got seramas to. What I couldn’t understand was Snowflake acting exactly the same at only one year old.

Then I remembered that Snowflake had been very vocal a few days before and I had thought she was about to lay. She then stopped being vocal. I realised that both Snowflake and Spangle were probably both about to start laying when they had run into a problem.

Spangle laid five eggs last year and I had hoped that she wouldn’t lay this year. Snowflake laid a hundred and forty seven eggs last year between March and November.

In February last year we lost Shadow due to an egg stuck and Smoke due to peritonitis. The frustrating thing is that this caused me to make the decision not to have any more seramas due to so many egg laying problems. I chose bigger, hardier breeds and at the end of February added Snowflake, Storm and Gold. Storm and Gold are laying along with Dot. It seems so unfair that this should happen to Snowflake as well.

Having read everything I could find in the past and again now I decided to do my very best to save the two girls or even possibly one of them. I read that if you treat them with antibiotic it can possibly stop the infection of peritonitis, or a broken egg inside. I had tylan in stock so started it in the water and in dishes of mash on Monday morning intending to give it for the recommended five days.

I examined both girls as best I could. I couldn’t see anything wrong with their vents and couldn’t feel anything in their breast. I had done the same in the past though and hadn’t been able to see anything.

I could see that both girls were not going to the water so I gave them tylan water to their beaks, with a syringe, twice a day. I also gave them sugar water and tomato juice with sugar dissolved in it to their beaks. I hoped that it might help start them eating again.

I had moments of hope as Spangle was pecking at the mash and I thought she was eating. Watching her closely I realised that she wasn’t actually eating it but just pecking at it, pretending to eat.

Spangle has her eyes closed
Spangle still has a red comb
Snowflake has her eyes closed
Snowflake still has a red comb

This was day three of giving them tylan and they both still had red combs. By day two Snowflake wasn’t perching at bedtime and by day three Spangle wasn’t perching at bedtime. I knew they were getting weak because of not eating.

Snowflake can’t perch at bedtime

On day two and day three there was a puddle on the chickens’ patio that was mostly pale yellow but with some orange streaks of egg yolk. When I cleaned it up with kitchen paper it was the consistency of egg white. I felt a little hopeful that one of the two girls was expelling the egg and had chances with the antibiotic of pulling through.

By day four, yesterday, Spangle spent all day with her head under her wing. Snowflake was weak and wobbly. Both girls’ combs had also changed colour. They had gone a muddy colour.

Spangle has her head under her wing
So sad

As the day went on Spangle had her head under her wing and Snowflake stood next to her with her eyes mostly closed. This was so sad to see. I knew at this point that I couldn’t let them suffer any longer and I rang the vet.

I got an appointment for six o’clock yesterday after four days of trying to treat them. I felt bad to take them to the vet in such a poorly state but I had felt that I couldn’t give up on them until I had given it my best shot at trying to get them through this.

The vet examined them both. She said that Snowflake’s breast felt hot from egg peritonitis. Her crop was very empty. She said that Spangle probably had passed the liquid egg that I had found but that she was too weak to recover. She said that I had done my very best for them and that I had done the right thing to bring them in to be put to sleep. It was the only kind thing for them.

I usually hold them while they are put to sleep but felt it wasn’t reasonable to do this with two of them. I asked to see them once the vet had put them to sleep. She said they went very quickly and quietly as they were so ready to go.

I am totally gutted by this whole thing. Sometimes I feel that we are so very unlucky. I was in tears at the vets and again writing this. I had been dreading writing this post but I owed it to the two girls to tell their story.

I will do a tribute to them soon when I can gather myself and look through my photos. The flock feels small having dropped from eight to six in one day and I am feeling so sad right now.

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6 Responses to Heart breaking, two girls put to sleep on the same day

  1. DAVID says:

    Dear Carol,
    This is devastating news and I can understand that you must feel blighted by bad luck, with two girls affected simultaneously. There was always going to be an element of doubt about Spangle – as you so rightly said, had she not come back into lay, then she’d have been fine. Snowflake, however, must have been a huge shock, given that she was so prolifically productive last season. As always, you provide the very best of care and do not shrink from the tough decisions, however much it hurts. Well done. There will be better times ahead. XX

    • Carol says:

      Sometimes I feel like I am shouting, it’s not fair, but it does feel like that at times. I was more attached to Spangle because we have had her so much longer and she was such a friendly girl. Snowflake was our least friendly girl but it is hard when they are so young and I feel that it just shouldn’t happen. I am just hoping that Salmon will never lay again. Thank you for your kind words. xx

  2. Sophie says:

    Oh Carol, what a shock – I am so so sorry to read this! It just seems so unfair.

    Big hug


  3. marion.pharo says:

    I feel so so sad for you and your lovely girls. I wish i could give you a hug. If you feel like coming over, don’t worry about waiting for us to get straight. How sad and unlucky to lose two girls together, devastating.We have had sad news from Ashley this week as well, they lost their Maisy, she spent a lot of time with us, we loved her dearly.

    • Carol says:

      It just felt so unlucky to lose two girls at the same time and the flock seems so small now. That is such sad news about Maisy. Ashley will really miss her. We will come and see you soon.

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