Holly, experiencing Doubt, July 2011In Brief

last updated 5.3.16

Hatched: 18th November 2010
Died:  7th January 2015

Weight: 3.32 kg

Breed: Barred Plymouth Rock

Total number of eggs: 587
Biggest egg: 92 g g
Smallest egg: 44 g
Average weight: 62.8 g

Holly, 11 days old

The Arrival

Holly was one of two barred rock girls from Poppy’s Horde, and looked like a penguin when she was a chick. She was very friendly as a bub – a real snuggle-bunny. And she was a big girl, right from hatching. Unfortunately the cuddlesomeness wore off as she got older, and she now is a bit stand-offish. She doesn’t panic if handled, but only tolerates it. And if she thinks I’m being a bit too forward, or taking too long, she rakes her beak across and down my shoulder. (Although this could be her version of a declaration of undying love for all I know. She keeps her thoughts to herself a bit.)

Holly at 4 weeks

Strictly speaking, she isn’t a very good example of a barred rock, being rather more cuckoo than barred. Oh well.
And then there’s her other thing …

The Saggy Bum

When Holly had been laying for about a month, something strange (an initially quite worrying) happened. She developed The Sag. She seemed to be suffering some kind of weird neurological complaint, and had trouble standing upright. Actually that’s not quite true – she didn’t ever seem to be in pain, or even discomfort. But she would spend a lot of time sitting, (including when she was eating), and would sometimes walk as though her back hold her properly upright. There was a bit of the dreaded EYP ‘Penguin stance’, although she seemed absolutely fine in every other way. And it seemed to improve if she spent the day cooped up, which added to my suspicion of it being something muscular – possibly some sort of impingement, like Ella’s? It certainly didn’t (and doesn’t) seem to cause her any distress, or slow her down at all.

Holly, 17 May 2011

And another thing that links her to Ella (along with size and muscular thingy) – she has a seriously saggy bum. Looks like a toddler with a full nappy. I tell you, there are days when I think we need to fit her with wheels, or some sort of harness to hold it up. But again, it doesn’t seem to distress her at all. Maybe we should think of it as a hen version of a camel’s hump


Holly’s first egg 10 June 2011Holly took a wee while to lay her first egg, but got into the swing of it quite quickly, laying 14 eggs in her first month. The size has climbed too – she averages mid sixty grams. Her typical egg is an oval, tinted slightly pink with white and brown speckles on them. Very pretty! And she’s a pretty no-fuss layer – very rarely cackles, and just gets on with the job. For quite a while she was laying eggs with a small blood spot in them, but seems to have grown out of it now. She laid 195 eggs in her pullet season, which is not bad at all!


Holly, 26 January 2012

We had one big scare with her – a prolapse – in October 2012. Hardly surprising – she’s a big girl, but also quite fat, and lays reasonably large eggs. But it responded to treatment straight away. There was a recurrence (Feb 6th 2013), but again, she was pulling everything back  … um, together … by herself as soon as we got her inside. The drill is:

1. bring her inside and gently wash her bottom;
2. glove up, and coat one index finger with copious amounts of panalog;
3. insert finger and reinsert innards;
4. put her in the big cage on lots of towels;
5. check every few hours to see if she is re-prolapsing (and repeat stages 2 to 3 as necessary);
6. after either the passing of a large poo or the laying of an egg without any further prolapse, return to flock;
7. check bottom (hers) at least twice per day for the next five days, or until you forget.


But then we had the big one. A massive prolapse on August 25th (2014) – you can read about it here. For a while, things seemed ok. Except not really. She didn’t re-prolapse, and even laid quite a few eggs (64). But there had obviously been some neurological damage, and her droopiness became much much worse – all but dragging her bum along the ground. She had a course of Metacam (anti-inflamatory) to see if that would help, but it didn’t make a difference. By December we were starting to wonder what we could do next, or if there was nothing anyone could do to improve her quality of life. To make matters worse, Claire developed an unholy passion for her, and kept attempting to mount the poor girl …

Then on January 7th, I found her standing half underneath the drinker, with yet another prolapse. Just as bad. We didn’t even need to discuss it with each other – we’d already asked ourselves if keeping her alive was the right thing to do, and now this. There was no way we could put her through it all again. So we gathered her up, cleaned her as best we could, and took her in to the vets to be put to sleep. I think Susan was worried that she would have to convince us that this was the right course of action, but we knew. Poor Holly.

She’s buried in the paddock, under a black mulberry tree. We have her three Black Rock daughters – Summer, Rain, and Vivien, who each have aspects of Holly in their makeup. She was a lovely girl, and we will miss her.


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