Peepers, an extraordinary Red Star Pullet

by Marcia Hamilton
(Mount Dora, Florida USA)

I bought Peepers from a lady who raises them. She was a 1.2 ounce Red Star that eventually grew into a four pounder. Peepers started laying at 16 weeks and laid an egg up until the day she died, only missing 8 days or so.

She started riding with me on my mobility scooter at two weeks of age and continued right up until before she died. I would drive her to a field, tell her okay, and she would jump off my left thigh and happily graze. When about half an hour was up, I'd call her, she'd come walking over, I'd pick her up and off we'd go.

I trained her to not go out of our small yard onto the road, I live in a mobile home community, to come when called, to stop, turn around and come back if she started to go to our neighbor's yard.

Peepers was so kind, always letting children and adults pet her, lying quietly on my left thigh. When we had to cross the busy road, she laid unflinchingly on my leg or arm, not being scared and flying away when even a semi went by. She never, ever flew off my leg, nothing bothered her and I like to think it was because she felt very safe and secure with me.

She was great friends with my two dogs and my big dog took it upon her self to guard Peepers when we were out in the yard, keeping the cats away. I've been around and trained animals at ten years of age and I just love them.

Peepers slept in a medium sized dog crate with straw, and a hard, cardboard cat litter box filled with straw was her nest, in our kitchen. She was a voracious egg layer, 97 to be exact and they were delicious, large brown eggs.

When I was eating lunch on my lounge chair, she, with her chicken diaper on, would jump up on the arm rest seeing if she could 'snag' a bite, but I always gave her a little something. Then she would go on the couch and lie down until she had a nice rest. Or she would climb up to my chest, lie down and put her head next to my neck or lie her head and neck across my shoulder.

Peepers would follow me into the bathroom and when I took a shower in our walk in shower, she would lie on the floor until I came out and I could go on and on, like when I'd cook something at the stove, she would be right there waiting until something "accidentally" fell to the floor!

Then on June 15, she was in the kitchen and I heard her flapping like crazy. I ran in and she was having what looked like a convulsion. I picked her up, wrapped her in a towel and she died with me holding her, about a minute later.

I still haven't stopped crying about her and miss her terribly. She is buried, in her nesting box, all wrapped up, in our yard with a nice stepping stone over her so nothing can get her.

I will get another chick but not right now. Every home should have a youngster like her in their home at least once because hens give laughter, good eggs and brighten one's day.

She was extraordinary and I'll never forget her.

Comments for Peepers, an extraordinary Red Star Pullet

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Way too many eggs
by: Marcia Hamilton

Believe me there were so many times I wished she wouldn't lay so many eggs, almost one a day, to me was too much but there wasn't a darn thing I could do about it.

I gave her very good organic feed to help her stay strong, gave her crushed shells, etc. But I took care of her mentally too, taking her for rides, on my mobility scooter which she loved. If I stayed and talked too long to someone she would start making little noises like, 'let's go'!

I would sit in the carport for hours doing crosswords so she could be outside in the sun and shade enjoying pecking and scratching away.

I blame myself for maybe not recognizing that something was wrong. She seemed very happy, contented. I just wish she hadn't laid an egg, 97 of them, from February 15th until June 14th.

I miss her terribly and still cry over her loss. She was truly remarkable.

Too many eggs?
by: Cath

Hi Marcia,

"Does anyone think that it must have been so hard on her to lay that many eggs, that it just tired her body out? Does anyone think that it must have been so hard on her to lay that many eggs, that it just tired her body out?"

I've had Red Stars since I started keeping chickens - nearly 15 years ago now. Like Peepers, they lay one egg a day, sometimes with a little break in the winter, but sometimes not even that.

They have all lived to quite an age (except when taken by predators). They do tend to slow down after one year old and I have always then just gone with the flow, and allowed them to scratch around happily without worrying about laying daily eggs.

I think it's an interesting question, and I would never "force" a chicken to lay more eggs (for example, by having a light constantly on in the winter). I do know too that ex-battery hens who have been kept as egg layers all their lives tend to have a shorter life expectancy - but that's because of the awful conditions they're kept in.

As long as she was getting enough calcium via oyster shell or similar, and she was well cared for (which she very clearly was) I don't think this will have been the issue.

Don't blame yourself. She was happy in her egg laying!

Peepers, a question
by: Marcia Hamilton

Peepers laid 97 eggs. She started on February 15 and laid her last one on the day of her death, June 14th. I gave her Organic feed and of course some treats now and then. Does anyone think that it must have been so hard on her to lay that many eggs, that it just tired her body out? I know they, Red Stars, are bred for high egg yield but sometimes I think it must have been very hard on her.

Any thoughts on that, anyone?

So sorry for your loss.
by: Cath

Thank you so much for sharing Peepers' story, Marcia. What an extraordinary chicken she was! Red Stars are my favourite chicken. They are always so entertaining and friendly, and Peepers was obviously very typical - and even more so.

I love the picture of her on your mobility scooter! I'm sure she was so well known in the neighbourhood, and will be missed by many people.

Her death does sound like Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome. The flapping wings are typical. It is such a hard thing to come to terms with, because chickens can seem perfectly well immediately beforehand.

Allow yourself time to grieve and miss her. She was a big part of your life.

She was loved, and she is missed. RIP, Peepers.

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