Goodbye Buttercup

Goodbye-ButtercupIt’s a hard thing to watch a sick chook. And something that I was hoping to escape from having to witness so early on in our backyard chicken journey. But on Friday one of our chooks, Buttercup, wasn’t herself – she was slow, sitting around a lot. Saturday and Sunday saw her progressively get worse. While she was alert some of the time, the rest of the time she was sleepy, not eating and unsteady on her feet, and by Monday morning she wasn’t able to stand. So much for waiting to see if it got better. After some discussion with some chook loving friends, and borrowing an animal crate, I packed her up and took her to the local bird vet.

While hoping it was something simple and fixable, unfortunately it wasn’t. The vet went through all the things it could be – head injury, leg injury, ear mites – observed her, had a look at a stool sample and, after also asking a colleague came back with what no chook owner wants to hear – that it’s most likely that she has Marek’s Disease. While my chooks were vaccinated at 1 day old, this is not a sure way to avoid Marek’s Disease and unfortunately there’s no cure. While the vet couldn’t be certain, it was clear that she was unwell and unlikely to recover. Coming back from the vet empty handed was awful, but having to watch her suffer any further would have been worse.

RIP Buttercup – we’ll miss you.

For more on Marek’s Desease, take a look at the Marek’s FAQ page on


  1. claire pare says

    Hi tash
    when introducing a new chook to an existing flock there may be some bullying of the new one. If you can it’s better to have 2 newbies so the newbies have someone familiar to align with.

    • natasha says

      Thanks Claire. That was one of my concerns and I’m thinking that two would be a good idea, but we will wait until next year to build up our flock – Tash.

  2. says

    So sorry to hear about your loss. Chooks can be hard (albeit rewarding) and a girlfriend is going through a similar thing. I highly recommend getting onto the “Backyard Poultry” forum on facebook – it’s such a great place to learn from one another.

    I also agree with Claire – always introduce them in pairs. I introduced a sole rooster, and although being twice the size of any of the others, he did have a tough couple of weeks before he settled in and they left him alone. I generally always introduce newbies in a minimum of a pair to dissipate the pecking order issues. He was an exception as he was a rescue.

    • natasha says

      The Backyard Poultry forum is where I found a list of local vets – I agree, it’s a fabulous resource, and yes, I think introducing two is a better idea.

    • natasha says

      Hi Hannah, I went to the Melbourne Bird Vet in Scoresby but was also recommended the Bird Vet Clinic in Highbury Rd Burwood. They also avian vets at the RSPCA in Burwood.

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