Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Saturday 5 November 2011

Poor Coriander Hen

Coriander hen is an ex commercial flock rescue hen I have looked after for nearly two years now - she came to us at the end of her "productive" commercial life, aged about 18 months old.

She has been a very robustly heathly, delightful companion hen, a good egg layer and ( as often with generic
"ginger" commercial hybrids) a real character and a very sweet personality.

She has been seriously moulty for the last 5 weeks or so, and resistant to being picked up or checked over, but I have managed to catch her a few times and check she was ok .

However this morning when Compostman went to let the hens out into the wood, she was obviously not ok - she could hardly walk and was very slow on her feet.

He brought her in to me ( the fact he could catch her shows how poorly she was as she previously has only ever let me catch her!) and when I examined her she had a very distended abdomen and was very thin and also very cold.

I gave her a warm bath with lavender essential oil added - to help ease any egg bound issues -  and then put her in a box in the kitchen with cat food, water and a comfy dark straw nest to settle down int at one end of the box. She has eaten a little and drunk a little but has not passed an egg (  I hoped the warm water would stimulate this as it has worked in the past with other hens) or done the huge poo I hoped to see ( from previous experience this sometimes is also the problem!)

I fear she has egg peritonitis or a tumour, which every other commercial " ginger" hybrid I have owned has eventually died from     :-(

At the moment she is asleep in her comfy box, in the kitchen, but it is not a natural looking sleep and from her general demeanor I fear she will slip quietly into a deeper, terminal sleep in the night. But she might recover and, as she seems in no distress, I am prepared to leave her overnight to see what will happen.

I have gentled her and stroked her and told her what a very good hen she is - and she crooned a little at me and nibbled my finger.

I will leave her tonight and if she is still in the same state tomorrow morning I will (very sadly and regretfully) of course kill her quickly and painlessly.

I HATE this aspect of keeping livestock  - BUT if I want to keep animals I have to accept the responsibility of ending their lives "when it is time". That means if they are ill, injured OR ready to be killed for eating.

Doesn't mean I have to like doing it, though!

And I think, if I ever get to the point where I no longer feel sad enough to care about doing it - that is the point I should give up keeping livestock.

(Oh and from bitter experience I know the vet can't help her - I have now seen enough of these hens (sadly) to know that they will either pass an egg or die very quickly - and the vet is not available until Mon. If she is ok until Mon I will take her to the vet  :-)


  1. Oh, I do hope things look up for her. Now that we have some hens I have this fear that something will happen to one of them and I won't be able to make it better.
    Hugs to you.

  2. Hi Judy~~well done on getting your hens at last! :-))

    It is a worry though- there is an very easy method of killing chickens, using a broomstick - it is quick and painless ish for the hen...

    I suggest you practise on a "pretend" chicken, so you know what to do if you need to do it for real :-(

    it has not got better feeling for me and I have been doing it now since I was 10 - so that is 40 odd years ...

    Best though to know what to do so if you need to it all goes as smoothly as it can :-(

    Hugs back at you

  3. Poor Coriander... we'll keep our fingers crossed for her. It sounds like you are doing everything and more for her. x


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