To alleviate fears, let me state that Cindy is not dead.
K. Cindy was always the fattest of the 6, and stands quite a bit taller than the other girls (we ate most of the boys). She also has the deepest red color of them all, and I *think* the Acorn's Sissypantstacular named her. I think.
A couple of months ago, Cindy - despite her product chicken origins - decided to go broody. She sat in the nesting box, stole everyone's eggs, the whole nine yards. With 4 clutches of eggs hatching out this year, the last thing we really wanted was another group of little cheep-cheepers running around everywhere. Especially with the brutal winter winter we're expecting. (because we're experts, the house isn't finished, and, you know, we're due) We tried to break her of it - dunked her in cold water, ran her out of the nesting boxes repeatedly... nothing. I should mention a Wyandotte and an Australorp went broody on either side of her at the same time, and so we were triply eager to break them of it. The girls only use 3 nesting boxes (they are provided with 9....) and now they were all occupied. The Australorp took one swipe out of the nesting box and decided her heart wasn't in it. Thankfully. It was her THIRD TIME THIS YEAR. The other two, not so much.
Eventually the two birds took refuge in a part of the coop that we really can't get to (when accepting a free chicken coop, inspect even more carefully for design flaws. Lesson learned). The hunkered down on the ground and soldiered on. We did our best to rouse them out daily - I think we gave up on breaking them of broodiness, but I at least wanted them to get a fighting chance at eating and the like.
Th Wyandotte didn't make it. She just would not give up the broodiness, and it is our fault for not making sure she had something to hatch. If she had, she would have been triggered out of the broody trance when the chicks started peep-peeping. I am sorry Miss Wyandotte.*
Cindy did finally make it out of her Broody state, although the lack of eating, exercise, and sunshine has surely taken its toll. She has red sores/lesion thingies on her face, and is so so skinny. We weren't sure if they from laying in the dirt on the floor of the coop (and therefore transmittable to the other chickens) or not, but it is clear that her compromised immune system couldn't fight whatever it is off. We have her in the brooder by herself where she has her own food and water and is close to us for observation.
Cindy's older flockmates all started gradually molting over the past few months. You don't notice it in our flock immediately - you kind of suspect egg production is down and feathers on the ground are up, and then one day you realize you have NO EGGS (AGH!), your driveway looks like chickens have exploded on it there are so many feathers, and you can see spikey little new feathers here and there on your chickens. No biggie.
Cindy has apparently decided to catch up all at once on the molting front. The poor thing looks like she lost 75% of her feathers all at once, and has turned into some half-porcupine, half-chicken thingy:
|They don't hold still when you're trying to take unflattering pictures of them|
We love her dearly, though, and the number of huge brown eggs she has given us over the past 3 years means that should she not recover from this latest bout, she will still have a home with us until she is no longer happy.
Which by the looks of it, could be a very long time. She eats and drinks with gusto, and woe to the unassuming chicken that tries to get some of her food through the chicken wire...