Miss Bunty Goodchicken, arrived in our lives one frosty February, just as the sun was starting to return to our corner of Cornwall. Very apt for a little hen who has brought light into our lives every day since.
One of our four B-girls, Bunty was a special girl from the moment she was rescued from her cage. Instant best friends with the feisty and soon-to-be-top-chicken Bella, Bunty’s gentle spirit and kind nature meant that very quickly she became Bunty Goodchicken. The Goodchicken name is the much-coveted title bestowed on only the most special of hens; whose loving soul is a shining example to her sisters. Never throwing a peck in anger, Bunty Goodchicken was indeed a Good Chicken.
Bunty’s first day of freedom, February 1st 2011
Her first year of free ranging saw her grow all her feathers back and settle into the sort of life every hen should enjoy; sunbathing, worm hunting, foraging, scratching, dustbathing and tucking up snugly with her sisters at night.
A particularly pretty hen, Bunty was also very photogenic. So much so that one of her best photos graced the cover of Smallholder magazine promoting an article on why we should all rehome ex-battery hens. Overnight, Bunty became an ambassador for exbatts and many of her caged sisters owe their new lives to Miss Goodchicken.
The original of that covergirl shot
Our Beautiful Covergirl
However, at the start of her second year as a free range girl, Bunty Goodchicken became ill. She had a prolapse and no amount of home remedies would help. So off to Uncle Jason the vet she went; the first of many visits and the start of her biggest battle.
Bunty had an operation putting in a purse-string suture to keep her prolapse in. She also had a suprelorin implant to stop her laying and thus stop the prolapse re-emerging. After three days of internal check-ups and monitoring, the suture was removed and after a further few days of anxious Prolapse Watch, she was deemed fit enough to return to the loving wings of her sisters.
During this time Bunty remained stoic and uncomplaining – a brave chicken as well as a good one. The vets therefore awarded her a Braveheart Award and the medal and certificate are now both very proudly displayed in the human’s coop.
Bunty’s Braveheart Award Certificate and Medal
However, the battle was not won. Bunty Goodchicken subsequently developed egg peritonitis – she was laying internally and the egg fluid building up – and was given medication to relieve this fluid build-up. At first she happily took her pills, ground up on a delicious treat, but she soon got wise so it had to be syringed in along with a painkiller.
For over a year, this precious girl was kept alive by her various pills and a couple of sessions draining the fluid from her abdomen. She remained her normal happy, chirpy self and enjoyed her free range life to the full. After the sad passing of two of her B-sisters (Bertha and Brigit), Bunty Goodchicken and Bella became firm friends with Clara and the three were inseparable.
During this time, Bunty Goodchicken became a household name. Not content with being just a covergirl, she also appeared in a chapter of Tales From the Coop, a book by the lovely Sophie Mccoy to raise money for exbatt hens, and most recently she has cracked the American market by having her story, photo and portrait appear in an exhibition in the National Museum of Animals and Society in Los Angeles.
Miss Bunty Goodchicken at her 2 year Henniversary party
However, slowly Bunty started to worsen and in an attempt to keep her precious life going a little longer, she trialled a pill to help relieve the pressure on her heart. Uncle Jason, amazed at how Bunty Goodchicken had fought to stay alive against all the odds, is currently writing a paper on her treatments. Due to his work with Bunty, he has subsequently been able to successfully treat many more hens. So she is also a medical pioneer.
However, she was not getting any better and we went to see Uncle Jason with that dreadful dilemma. Was she suffering? Were we prolonging her life just for ourselves? Could she live a little longer? It was a decision I wasn’t brave enough to make, so my darling Bunty, a Goodchicken to the end, made it for me. Whilst we were at the vets she started to fit and within seconds her heart had given up and she died in my arms. Her big, brave, beautiful heart, full of love and goodness to the very end, had finally decided it was time for Bunty to rest.
And it is now our hearts that are breaking.
But as we said goodbye to our girl, her spirit soaring to the heavens, we took a little solace in all the hens our darling Bunty Goodchicken had helped to save.
Miss Bunty Goodchicken: Covergirl, Exbatt Ambassador, Braveheart Award Winner, Medical Pioneer and (very) Good Chicken.
A big legacy for a little chicken.