Poor Lucy, the cochin hen who was destined to be our 'little mother' and hatch the chicks met an untimely end today.
For several days she has had a sore bottom. At first I thought she may have been egg bound but when I examined her the swelling was soft, fluid filled and hot. I checked on the net and I think she may have had peritonitis. This can occur when the hen ovulates but the ovum does not proceed down the oviduct but enters the abdominal cavity. In a human, this would just be absorbed by the body but in a hen, the ovum develops into a yolk and causes problems.
She has seemed quite normal and had been eating, foraging and staying with the flock so I just kept a watch on her. There were horrible treatments outlined on the internet that involved placing a catheter through the abdominal wall to drain the fluid but I hoped nature would take care of her... but no such luck.
Unfortunately today, the swelling ruptured and she was in obvious pain. So I had to euthanize her. I went the way of the chopping block and axe and although difficult it was far less distressing than I imagined.
She went to her end quietly and we have buried her under the violets where she liked to forage.