The last of the original Charlies passed away in her sleep. I went up to the run and she wasn’t there waiting. Opened the back of the coop and she was lying there, gone.
Hybrids commercial layers are generally lovely, friendly birds. Docile and curious. If I bent down and held my arm out, she’d often jump on it. She really did like being held and would make those contented little clucks hens do.
Sadly, they’re bred to lay at a furious rate for a couple of years before being disposed of. Charlie lived for over 41/2 years which is actually a long life for the breed. Commercially she’d have been a disaster for the bulk of her short life but our older hens are pets, not livestock. Eggs are a bonus.
She’d gone into moult about a month ago, not the right time but I put vitamins in the water to help her. Moulting takes a lot out of hens and I think it was just too much for her in the end.
Very Old for a Commercial Hybrid Hen
Despite my knowing she was, in hen terms, very old and my expecting this, it was still a shock. Still, she had a good life up to the end. Off to bed with a full crop and your flock around you – then goodbye. Not a bad way to go.
That leaves us with the two youngsters, Welly and Boots, along with three OAPs from the second group of Charlies. I expect we’ll lose a couple more of the OAPs this year. Hope not but that’s the reality.
They’re all isolated from the big outdoors with a polytunnel plastic roof above and netting all round the run. This should protect them from the Avian flu epidemic that is still ongoing. Despite that, I do wash my hands after handling the hens. It’s sensible even without Avian flu.