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First to Fly the Coop: A Northwest Chicken Passes On

Last updated on November 19, 2019

On Friday, November 1st, one of Northwest’s eight chickens was found mysteriously dead in its coop. Floyd, the late hen, was discovered the next day by a Northwest School parent who was spending part of their Saturday volunteering in the Northwest farm and garden.

Students and faculty who tend to the chickens were informed of the death promptly, but Floyd’s cause of death remained a mystery. Early the following week, Jenny Cooper, Northwest’s Director of Environmental Education and Sustainability, and faculty leader of the Environmental Interest Group (EIG), took Floyd’s body to a lab in Puyallup. The lab performed a necropsy (an autopsy performed on an animal), and discovered that Floyd died of liver failure.

“She had an enlarged liver and she couldn’t process the toxins in her food,” says Ella F. ‘20, who is a leader of EIG and a new environment team whose job is to tend to the chickens. “Her death is likely a result of a birth defect, but there could have been toxins in the water that Floyd’s liver couldn’t process,” she adds. “We’re getting the water tested to see whether it’s unsafe for the chickens, but otherwise, it’s likely just something hereditary that Floyd was born with.”

The chickens, which live in the pop-up garden between West Court and 401, were new additions to the Northwest community this year. The Environmental Interest Group is the primary group responsible for the planning, organizing, and maintenance of the farm and garden, as well as these beloved feathered friends. According to Jena U. ‘20, a leader of EIG, the chickens were a logical addition to Northwest’s garden, which the school hoped to be able to call a farm and garden. “The chickens provide eggs for the dining hall, and they eat compost scraps, so they are good for our school’s sustainability program,” Jena says. 

Jena also spends her environment period maintaining and tending to the garden, and was one of the first to hear of Floyd’s death. “During environment we went around in a circle and shared some memories of Floyd,” she says. While she jokes sarcastically about “many tears being shed,” Floyd’s passing is truly unfortunate. However, Ella is quick to remind us of the context. “Thankfully it was just liver failure, there were no signs of fowl play.”

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