The RECESS chicken cooperative has been moving along very well lately. The birds endured an unseasonably cold winter and emerged an incredibly productive lot this spring. We are now routinely seeing a dozen eggs per day, making the 10 minutes of daily chores well worth it to our members. Feed cost is stable, and manageable - though we've yet to procure an affordable source for organic feed. And, we haven't had any further trouble with the dogs.

Dead Chicken

Unfortunately, we had a rather sad day at the chicken coop last week. I discovered one of our Black Star hens dead, curled up underneath the lowest nesting shelf. The cause of death is somewhat of a mystery. I inspected the carcass (and the rest of the flock) and found no glaringly obvious signs of illness, physical attack, or other duress.

A volunteer reported to have seen a snake in the chicken yard a few days prior. It's possible the snake may have frightened or even bitten the hen, leading her to hide under the roost and die. This seems concurrent with the only physical anomaly I did spot: a small dark purple/black "bruise" a few inches from the dead bird's vent. Perhaps it was a snake bite? I have no idea. What I do know is that we have been having an incredibly dry spring, and the chickens' water tray may have lured in a rattler.

The dead hen also appears to have lost a number of feathers near the site, although this may have been due to decomposition, since she appears to have spent ~2-3 days on the hen house floor before I found her. If any chicken experts derive an alternate theory from this photo of the bird's carcass, I would love to hear it.