Friday, 14 January 2011

A Possible Murder Mystery

After two and a half years of chicken keeping, you tend to think you've probably seen it all. Just as you start to feel smug, your birds are certain to throw you a curve ball. And this one is a doozy.

In between rain showers, I headed out to clean out the coop. The hens were all happily forgaing in the border. I opened up the Palace and removed the perch. And then I paused. Because the perch was dotted with blood. In fact, a good half of the perch had splashes and dots of blood on it. Setting it aside, I studied the floor and walls of the coop. More blood dotted the newspaper under the perches, and large splatters of blood sprayed up the walls. Dear God it was even on the roof. Taking a deep breath, I did a rapid head count of the girls. All, thankfully, present and correct. And watching me now with interest.

Verifying that the nest box was blood free (Purdy had produced one of her perfect eggs), I began my investigations. Maude was injury and blood stain free. As were Doris, Gladys, Hilda, Purdy, and Celia. Mabel glared at me from the back step, apparently injury free. Which left Maeve.

Maeve had one tiny dot of blood on her comb. I inspected it carefully, and realised that there was no injury. She looked at me impassively. The evidence seemed to suggest that ASBO Chicken knew something about the blood in the coop. But she wasn't talking. Maeve is jet black, so frankly she could have been covered in dried blood and it would be hard to spot. Still, I looked. I found nothing else.

So now I'm left with a mystery. Eight hens, all injury free. No one is gasping or bubbling blood out of their nostrils. Yet the coop looks like something met a very sticky end in there. It's made me a little nervous of turning my back on them all, tbh. Especially Maeve.

I'm fairly sure I know whodunnit, I'm just not yet sure who the victim was.

(In other news, the inspection highlighted a few mud balls beginning to form on feathered feet, so tomorrow they'll all be having a foot bath. It also brought Celia's freaky feet to my full attention. Celia has twisted and fused toes, so her nails grow sideways and twisty. They are now beginning to get a bit long (not helped by her long broody spell) so she requires a pedicure. That should be fun.)


  1. My girls murder small rodents and birds with alarming regularity.Seeing them grab then bash a mouse against a hard floor until dead is not pretty.Usually it is a single killer unless one of the other ladies(I use therm ladies with tongue firmly in cheek) manages to steal and runaway with the bonus protein snack.

  2. What a beautiful picture above!

    We've had to stick with bare legged girls as their run is a quagmire in this weather...

    I found some blood last week (though not as much as you..) and spotted a few drops on a comb...

    Maybe it could be from a bit of frostbite? shaking their heads would spray it everywhere and I expect that a comb is pretty full of blood...

    Good luck with the pedicure... What with our Hen Hotel and your Pecking Parlour - We should go into business? Spa weekends? can chickens play golf?????

    Sara x

  3. Oh dear. I do hope it is just a spat or a mouse but with your respiratory issues I worry about ILT. Every time I hear a story that begins with mysterious blood on the walls and no predators, it seems to turn out to be ILT. We will be thinking of your girls and hope you solve the mystery quickly.

  4. Ooh, had never heard of ILT. Have just had a scooby. Doris seems much better now, and has never had sneezing/mucus/discharge or coughing, so I think I can rule that out. Interestingly, I have just watched Hilda front up to Mabel, and get a severe duffing. They are all coming back in to lay, so I'm hoping it might have just been a comb pecking (the chicken equivalent of hair pulling!) although I saw no signs. Will keep an eye :)

  5. Could it be a broken blood feather? Any of the girls getting in new feathers?

  6. Ah. Now that's an interesting idea. Yes, Celia is in full, scraggly moult at the moment. She's half the chicken she used to be.