Backyard Chickens

A Sad Update From the Chicken Coop

A sad update from the chicken coop

Last week, a raccoon attacked our Barred Rock, Kimora, and our Golden Laced Cochin, Iman, in their coop.

My husband heard the commotion but didn’t make it outside in time. According to him, it was the most heartbreaking sound he’d ever heard, like a peacock in angst.

He found Kimora’s body in the coop, along with a shaken Iman. The latter sustained a small injury to her head, but our brave Kimora never had a chance.

I’d like to think she died while trying to protect her sister, as it’s the only way I can accept what happened.

No animal — no pet — deserves to die so helplessly and violently, and I’m devastated to think how frightened they must have been in what’s supposed to be their safe place.

When we brought Iman inside the house, there was a laceration straight across the top of her head and a large portion of her comb was severed and dangling. She suffered no other injuries to her body, her eyes were bright and clear, and her beak was intact.

Will gave her some water and swaddled her in a bath towel. I cleaned as much blood as I could off her head so I could assess the seriousness of her wounds.

There was no way her comb would reattach itself, and since she was no longer bleeding, we made a quick decision to prepare for a mini “surgery” on the kitchen counter.

We disinfected our sharpest shears and cut off the end of her comb. This would keep it from rotting, promote faster healing, and head off any possible infection.

We liberally sprayed the new cut and the laceration with Vetericyn, made a temporary coop inside our house (just a cardboard box with a pet urine pad), and let her rest for the night.

The next morning, Will buried Kimora with a handful of mealworms under the banana trees, her favorite place to hide eggs back in the day. We planted flower bulbs around her grave marker, a large river stone that she loved to perch on in the chicken run.

I didn’t see the aftermath of the attack in the coop, nor did I see Kimora’s body before burial. I’m not sure I could’ve handled it. I realize it’s the circle of life and chickens are the ultimate prey, but it doesn’t make the pain of losing one any easier.

Perhaps what’s most difficult for me is knowing Iman is all alone, having first lost Gisele a few years ago and now Kimora. The original Three Amigas will never be the same.

Since chickens are social animals, we brought home three new pullets shortly after the attack. The plan is to quarantine them in a separate coop while Iman is healing, and integrate them soon afterward so she won’t be lonely.

Read more: How to Support a Healthy Backyard Flock Integration

I’ll be honest, it’s a little hard to get excited about new chickens under these circumstances, but I know they’ll be a fun addition to the flock and much-needed company for Iman.

At present, she seems to be recovering well. We treat her injuries with Vetericyn twice a day, and her laceration closed within a day or two.

We added vitamins and electrolytes to her water to ease the stress and she’s drinking, but not too interested in eating.

Will caught a grasshopper for her the other day and that seemed to light a fire under her for a brief moment, but she’s not scarfing down her feed like she normally does. Each day, I hand feed her a spoonful of baby bird formula to ensure she’s receiving some of her daily nutrients.

We’re letting her free-range in the vegetable garden near our kitchen, where we can keep an eye on her, and she’s slowly starting to peck and scratch again. It’s heavy on my heart to see her out there by herself; sometimes she’ll just sit under the mulberry tree and tuck her head into her feathers.

We imagine she’s still in a little shock, so we’ve been giving her extra attention and even the baby has been loving on her.

Iman is so calm and comfortable around us, it gives me hope that she’ll be back to her old self at some point.

My lovely girls in the garden

This little lady is a fighter and a survivor. You may remember that she’d sustained another raccoon attack over a year ago, and after a few weeks of care, her wing healed up nicely.

We’re rooting for her to pull through this one, too, and are so thankful that she’s still with us.

All in all, it’s been a rough week and I feel my emotions running up and down in relief and anger, gratitude and sadness.

This is the worst part of raising chickens — by their very nature, they are short-lived as pets compared to other animals, but they still hold a significant place in your heart. And with a small flock, especially, it’s hard not to get attached.

I’ve been finding comfort in re-reading my tribute to Gisele, our Easter Egger who passed in 2013.

I know she and Kimora are together again, pecking and scratching happily for bugs and grubs. One day, I hope to have another Barred Rock as beautiful and wonderful as Kimora was.

Rest in peace, Kimora. May you soar high in the sky with your sister.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »