Our poor POP…..Popped!

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On Sunday afternoon my little farmer came crying down the hill from our coop. “Pop is dead,” she sobbed. What? How can that be? We walked over to investigate and there she was, our plump Buff Orpington lying on the ground stiff as a board. Just that morning, she had been picking the corn out of her feed to her hearts content. There was no sign of a struggle whatsoever. No feathers scattered on the ground and no holes in the fencing made me wonder if she were ill. Was there a disease in my flock? After finding a Vet that would perform a necropsy on a chicken (Yup, they do that) I packed her into black trash bags and was instructed to keep her cool until Monday morning when I could get her to the Vet’s office. Into a brown Maggiano’s bag she went before being placed in the back up refrigerator overnight. (Insert a few sick jokes here…)

The next morning, I put her in a cooler on ice and drove around the beltway to deliver her to the Vet. They were so thoughtful at the office, calling her by name and saying they were sorry for my loss. I sort of giggled on the inside but when the took her body away I shed some quiet tears. She was our most loving hen and the most gentle with the children. She didn’t mind being held and could come sit on my lap when she was young. No doubt, I was going to miss her.

In a few days the office called with the results. Hepatic Lipidosis was the official diagnosis. Hepatic Lipidosis occurs when too many calories are consumed and the chicken produces too much fat. In addition to being stored in the stomach, the fat is also stored in the liver itself, making it very fragile (or fryable) as the Vet described it. A fryable liver means that any trauma (bumping into a post, or being pushed by another bird) could rupture the liver causing her to bleed out. So as my loving husband pointed out, Pop Popped. (sigh)

WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF POP’s LIVER

Stop scrolling now if you are at all squeemish. These are the photos from the necropsy showing the fat in her body cavity and the fatty liver. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see the photos myself. Feeling guilty that I may have over fed her, I began to research the condition and found that Orpingtons and predisposed to Hepatic Lipidosis and Pop is not the first Orp. to meet the big chicken in the sky this way. I suppose now that I look back at her picture, she did seem a little rotund. She picked out the high sugar bits of feed (corn) and left the mineral mash behind. Essentially, she picked the marshmallows out of her luck charms and died of obesity. I will say that the entire experience has helped motivate me to eat a low carb diet.

LAST WARNING BEFORE GRAPHIC IMAGES…

 

Below is a very small section of health liver for comparison:

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Lacerated Liver:

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