Heedley’s Hens get bloody.

Time to don your deerstalkers, chickeneers, because I have a mystery. I returned from my mid-day errands today, and went to collect eggs, as is my wont. As I walked down the coop hallway, I saw this:

photo 1

Ummm. what? It’s quite a large puddle of blood, about three inches across. It goes without saying, gentle reader, that I flew into controlled panic mode. Did this blood belong to one of my chickens?

A few inches away was fairly clear evidence that a chicken had been at least near the puddle of blood:

photo 2

Hard to argue with that. This did nothing to reassure me, as one might imagine. I found a normal, clean Maisie egg in The Not The Tennis Racket Nest. I saw a small drop of blood leading into the coop (or out of it?!). Inspection of the nesting boxes revealed more fresh blood…

photo 3

…and an egg. Was the layer the bleeder? It would make sense. The egg was definitely Coraline’s (a good time to know your eggs on sight!); was Coraline wounded? There was no blood on the egg, which would seem to rule out laying trauma.

Still in controlled panic mode, I saw this small drop (about one inch) on the way out:

photo 4

Did the feather belong to the bleeder? There are so many feathers blowing around the barn, I couldn’t be sure.

I ran outside, sounding my call to arms: looklooklooklooklook!!! Yes, they’d be pissed when they ran over and found no treats. Hard cheese, old girls.

And run to me they did. I had a particular eye out for Coraline, but I was counting and checking as they arrived:

Two blonds, two reds, one white (where’s Alexia…oh, there she is). Two 2.1s. Three barreds. I checked out Abby and Maisie carefully, and Coraline seemed fine, too. Two laced. Two blacks…wait. One’s missing. That’s Jezebel. because she’s rid herself of her legband, the minx. There’s Scarlet. Where’s Delilah?!

Delilah came out from deep inside the wood, the last to arrive, with no limp or perceptible injury. Well…that’s everyone, then. The nice things about Light Brahmas is that it’s very easy to check for blood; neither Alexia nor Tallulah showed signs of a broken blood feather, which can make your coop look like an abattoir in no time flat.

I’m stumped. No one’s mortally wounded, of that I’m reasonably sure. I’ll go over them carefully at roost time, and see if anyone needs a night in the hospital. I hope everyone’s okay, because I’m pretty drained from losing Gidget…

UPDATE 5pm: Mystery solved!! Tricia the Great led me to the culprit…Coraline’s outer right toenail. It was definitely broken, although there was a short stub of nail remaining. It was covered with a coat of dried blood. I believe it clotted so quickly in large part because I use sand as my coop litter; a quick dip in fine sand is a marvelous coagulant.

No further action required, although I will be keeping my eye on it.

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5 thoughts on “Heedley’s Hens get bloody.

  1. First off, I again want to say that I love your writing style. I’m always entertained and I’m so glad I subscribed! That being said, the last time I tried to catch my rooster (several attempts), I came away with a fist full of feathers and he laid out a puddle of blood. The hens were like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park!

    • Thanks, again. Know now that I will never tire of hearing that.It had occurred to me that my hens might have turned into mice eaters, but that was a futile hope…

  2. Oh dear. Same thing happened to me at a show after a quick was clipped on a toe nail. I was informed the next morning that a friend cleaned out the cage as it looked like I had murdered a chicken. It was everywhere. That really bleeds!

    Glad to know it was just a toenail and not much worse.

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