When I found our white Ameraucana stiff as board, beak in the dirt, spread eagle under the coop, the first thing I thought was that the mites took her. Upon closer inspection I saw that she had passed a couple blood clots, which were stuck to her fluff. Did she get an egg stuck? Since it was dark out already, I decided to sleep on it.
The next morning, scalpel in hand, I went to see if egg binding was the actual culprit. Having never eviscerated a hen before, I struggled with where to start. A good long cut from the cloaca down the belly seemed right enough. Dang, there was a lot of stuff in there! I probably should have checked out some chicken anatomy diagrams before I began this little operation. Next time.
After rummaging through her intestines, I found a hard oblong sac, which at first I thought was the trapped egg but then realized as I sliced it open that it must be the stomach... er, crop (chickens don't have stomachs) as it was full of grass, dirt and other muck. In the center of all the mush, I found the culprit: a big chunk of glass. I thought my luck with chickens was pretty piss poor, but this one really takes the cake. Damn, just when I was getting those mites cleared up!
In other news, Sweet Pea's bumblefoot has cleared up nicely and she's laying eggs again. The other two hens are not laying, still losing feathers, and seem to be going through a second molt. I didn't know that was possible until my friend Esperanza sent me this. And then I read another article on the topic that says stressful events - like heat, mites, or parasites - can lead to molting. Some breeds only molt every two years, which would explain my friend Rachel's ragged hen that didn't molt this year.
Hopefully one of our remaining ladies will go broody soon and we can pop a few new chicks under her. This is a great way to take advantage of one of those chicken behavioral annoyances that leads to reduced egg production. The broody hen will see the chicks, think she's hatched them, and then dote on them like any good mother hen.