On Monday, I had to make a decision. This little guy, Dandy, was having a bad time.
He's in the nursing cage here, though he spent his entire life in the little henhouse.
You see, he was the only survivor of last year's hatchings in the little henhouse. Dandy and one other chick survived, and the hens killed all the rest. The other chick that lived turned out to have a misshapen beak, and finally died after a month or so. This little guy lived, but never crowed. He lived in the shadows of the little henhouse, never coming outside in the sun. I always thought he was a pretty little thing, and often called him The Rooster Who Did Not Crow.
Finally, after we re-homed the two big roos last summer, Dandy ventured outside for the first time.
It was good to see him wander around in the little henyard. The only rooster was Handsome, the partridge cochin, and the very small bantams that were put in that yard. For a while, he and Handsome led the hens around, and I noticed that he began crowing... but only crowed for a while.
Soon, he was silent again.
Two weeks ago, I started watching him.
That is he at the forefront. I had to go back to August 26th to find a picture of him outside and walking. That's the other little adult rooster, Handsome, facing him, (the dark bird).
I noticed last Sunday evening that he was under the henhouse, and was not moving around much. I watched him, and realized he was pulling himself around on his breastbone. I reached under and picked him up (he never protested) and put him in the henhouse. For the next day and a half, I put water and feed in front of him, because when I stood him up, his legs did not appear to hold him. Yes, he had scaly leg mite, which I began treating... but no, something else was wrong. His legs literally didn't seem to be able to hold him up.
Finally, after watching him all day Monday and keeping him near feed and water, I realized it was just not working. I may have been able to do something else if I had been home all week, but I was leaving, and neither Chris nor Kathy knows anything about chickens other than how to feed and water them. He was not able to stand at all on Monday, as you can see in the top picture.
Keith and I talked, and the decision was made to euthanize him.
Keith put him down at the bottom of the pasture, and the next morning, his body was gone.
Now, tonight, we have two of the black pullets who escaped the henyard after dark, and have disappeared into the pasture. The moon is high and full, and I suspect we won't be seeing them again.
It all goes with taking care of livestock, but it's not a pleasant part of it. Keith and I have never shirked from our duty though, and believe it is too much to expect an animal for which we are responsible to suffer because we can't make a decision for them. It's easy for me, I don't have to do it... and I admire Keith for being able to do the right thing.