Squeek, the dominant hen with the highest pitched voice

by Shane
(United States)

Young Squeek in the rain

Young Squeek in the rain

I got Squeek along with 10 other chickens from my uncle last summer. They were a couple / few months old.

She was a black (I guess Australian) Orpington. Her feathers had a greenish hue to them if the sun hit them just right.

She was larger than life, both physically and personality-wise, which is funny because she had the squeakiest voice, hence the name. She had a very tall comb (>1 inch) but it was always still somehow straight as an arrow. She also had feathers down her legs almost all the way to her feet. In that way she reminded me of a poodle.

She was and had always been at the top of the pecking order and was quite ruthless to fight for her personal space when on the roost at night, pecking everyone else's head if they got close enough. Needless to say she received countless (but loving) bops on her own head from my finger!

Squeek was so big and beautiful she looked like she could win a chicken beauty contest. She also was one of the last ones to start laying, but her eggs were huge. I believe she laid an egg with twins at least one time, and I also believe she laid two eggs right in a row another time.

She also liked to be alone when going to sleep. She pecked and growled at any of the others that got too close to her and puffed her feathers out like she was broody.

One night while the coop was still under construction, we came to shut the coop for the night, but we couldn't find her in there. We thought we lost her and it turned out she was in the rafters above the partial ceiling! We were so relieved!

One day (Saturday) I noticed she wasn't with the rest of the flock running around outside so I set out to find her. I found her all alone standing motionless. When I picked her up I noticed her belly was squishy and full. I could also vaguely smell the sour in her breath so I thought it was sour crop (which it was but there must've been more to it).

I put her inside with my other chicken that has been fighting sour crop and has relapsed several times over a period of several months, in two separate but adjacent cages. I took her out every few hours to let her drink garlic water, which she happily did on her own (it was available to her in the cage but she never went off the roost to get it for whatever reason). She was pooping (really just seeping) thick, almost egg-consistency, yellowish white ooze. I tried to massage her belly every so often but it didn't empty.

The next morning when her crop still wasn't empty I vomitted her and a whole lot of grass came out with the stinky sour crop yellow fluid (the snow just melted and grass can be seen now for the last week or so after ~4 months of not even being able to even see it so she must've gorged herself on it like a Chinese buffet).

It's possible that she breathed in some of the fluid even though I only held her upside down for 10 seconds (an article I read said no more than 15), but I could still hear that she was able to breathe at some if not most of her capacity, so I aimed a fan at her so her lungs could air out. I also felt a hard lump in her crop that felt like it could've been either a broken nail head or the back of an earring.

Her wings and her head started drooping and she got really lethargic. I looked up symptoms of metal poisoning due to the hard thing I felt in her crop. Lethargy / loss of balance was one so I thought that might have contributed.

Despite that, she still drank a whole lot of garlic water though before I put her back on the roost in her cage next to her sisters for the night.

The next morning (Monday) I found her on the floor laying against the wall of the cage. Her head was drooping so low it was almost on the floor. I guess she fell off the roost. At first I thought she was dead but then I could see she was still breathing. I called her name but she didn't respond. But when I picked her up she opened her eyes.

I gave her some garlic water but she was so droopy, even more than the night before. She couldn't hold her head up and it seemed like she couldn't even move her legs at all, but she could still flap her wings (and did so quite vigorously).

After that, her heart seemed to be beating very quickly and almost like it was out of her chest it was so strong, so I set her back down. Then she had a seizure, subsequently went limp, and released whatever else was in her crop.

Unfortunately only afterwards did I find a very large, rubber, partial egg shell in her vent, a few inches in. I didn't think about this until then, but the day or so before I found her standing alone (Friday maybe) in the morning before I let them out of the coop, I found a yolk-sized rubber egg attached to part of another half of what I can only presume was the next egg's rubber, and now I think it's the other half of the same one I found in her after she died. So maybe she was also egg bound hence the drizzling poop.

TLDR I believe the actual cause of death was a heart attack, but all of the above ultimately led to that. It was so devastating to us that I cried like a baby on several occasions. However one major serendipity is that my marriage seems to have grown immeasurably from this whole experience.

Squeek, I'm so sorry I wasn't able to take care of you and nurse you back to health. You deserved so much better than what I gave you, but I did give you all I thought you needed. I thought I was doing the right things by you but it turns out I missed something big.

I was concerned about the money to take you to the vet, but had I known your life was at stake, I would've done it in a heartbeat, no questions asked. I didn't realize how serious your situation was and I thought you had so much more time.

You were worth so much more to me than a vet bill and I loved you dearly. I still do. If I could turn back time I would've looked more into the specifics of your situation rather than assumed I knew what it was, based on the similarities of your sisters.

I would've paid more attention to the differences and I would've taken you to the vet right away.

I miss you so much and I hope and pray that I'll see you again in heaven someday.

Comments for Squeek, the dominant hen with the highest pitched voice

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RIP Squeek
by: Cath

Thank you so much for sharing Squeek with us, Shane. she was such a lovely chicken, and you did all you could for her.

Sadly, quite often by the time chickens let us know they are unwell, it's too late to help. You did right by her in emptying her crop, and being egg bound is hard to spot.

So be kind to yourself, and know that Squeek was loved and cared for, and while she was with you she led a good and happy life. That's a lot more than most chickens can say.

Thinking of you in your loss.

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