Archive for the ‘Chickens!’ Category

The Great Rooster Disaster of 2012

#1 Mommy raised the three chicks.  Yay!

Two faverolles:  Bonus.

One bantam Belgian d’Anvers (BBD):  Cool.

Not so cool:  The BBD is a rooster.

However, we’ll go with what we’ve got.  Besides, hopefully the BBD can help protect the flock from the #%$&! red-tailed hawk that is federally protected and prowling the skies with poultry on its mind.  We nickname the BBD “Little Roo” and we loved his cute stature and musical crowing.

It was not to last.  Nature reared its ugly head in the form of teenage rooster hormones.  Little Roo attacked our daughter’s very threatening pink butterfly boots while I was across the garden.  Our dog rescued her by driving off Little Roo.  Hmm.  I’ve heard about banty roos and their Napoleonic aggressiveness and privately vowed to keep our child close by while out in the garden.  A few days went by without incident. Until one morning, we went to collect eggs hand in hand.  From across the lawn, Little Roo came flying at my daughter’s face, spurs out.  Really?!  I’m right there holding her little toddler hand!

That’s it, husband.  Something’s got to be done about the rooster.

Crying, my daughter insists that Little Roo can learn to be nice and that we shouldn’t eat him up.  So I lied.  Yup, I took the easy way out and lied to the toddler.  “Ok,” I said, “we’ll send Little Roo to a nice farm were he can learn to be nice.”

That nice farm was coq au vin.  And it was indeed nice.

However, husband didn’t have much of an appetite.

So much for my brilliant plans to help the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy‘s mission by raising endangered chicken breeds.  It’ll have to wait until the kids are old enough to don protective gear and ward off flying coq au vin.

Chickens Are Mean

It’s been nearly a week since our new chicks came home and were lovingly adopted by our broody Silkie. It poured rain for most of the week and she and the trio spent their time in the coop. As the weather improved, they spent more of their time outside. That’s when the problems began. This Silkie has always been at the very bottom of the pecking order. I’ve red stories of new mommy hens going to heroic and insane lengths to protect their brood, but unfortunately she couldn’t stand against the venom of fellow bantam. If this little Brahma wasn’t my child’s favorite, she’d be soup by now. But even if we had BokBok stew (yes, my child named her), that’s not to say another bully wouldn’t do the same thing to the new family.

What to do? I supervised some flock together time, but it was tragic to see the feathers flying and panicked quartet running about. I scolded BokBok and tossed her out of the run and coop area, but she was relentless. This was chick endangerment and could easily result in the death of a little one so I separated the family in a makeshift brooder currently residing in the garage. At least they are still happily getting along.

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I really should have a predator-proof isolation coop. It would have been useful during the bloody chicken scare and for future cases when chickens need to be separated. I’m also trying to keep my expenses down, so the DIY weekend project is to construct a chicken tractor made from recycled pallets. I guess I better start taking them apart…

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Chick Adoption Day 3: First Day Out

Our #1 Mommy has successfully adopted our 3 incubator chicks. After two days of rain, the sun came out and so did the little family. Concerned about how the other chickens would react, I made sure everyone had plenty of free-range time and I also added shrub-like branches from our orchard pruning to give the new family more cover. They love it!

The trio still spend most of the time underneath warm mommy with only an occasionally downy head popping out to look around.

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As the day warms up, the trio venture out sometimes to investigate.  If only you could hear the family “talking” to each other!

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Chick Adoption at the Crack of Dawn

Last night my two week old chicks came home for the first time and either in a stroke of brilliance or madness I decided to see if our broody Silkie would adopt the chicks. So here I am at the crack of dawn checking the early results of the adoption experiment. And? So far so good. The broody and her trio are still in the nesting box with her wings puffed out to protect them.  They only poked their heads out after I poked around our #1 Mommy.

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Because these are older chicks, I placed a small waterer and crumbles inside the box, which they all eagerly accepted. The other chickens are curious, but giving them space.  The idea of food in the nesting box prompted a few investigations, but I shoed the onlookers away and all is back to status quo.  The pictures are bit blurry, but then again, so am I at 5:00am.

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Will a Broody Hen Adopt Chicks? Yes!

We’ve had a broody Silkie since mid May. In The Broody Experiments, we tried our best to get her “unbroody,” but without success.  This chicken was broodily determined. Sigh and wait.

Then my chicks arrived today. They were incubated by a nice class of students at a local school. Disappointingly, we only had 3 out of 24 eggs hatch: 2 Salmon Faverolles and 1 Belgian Bearded D’Anvers. Sounds like a perfect size clutch for a broody bantam. Hmm. I conveniently happen to have an inconveniently broody bantam.

Now the question… will our broody hen adopt the chicks? Internet research showed mixed results. Fortunately, most of out conditions are right: The hen has been broody for over 21 days and she is very gentle and good-natured.

The plan: Towards dusk, I introduced them one at a time, approximately 45 minutes apart. I also included an egg shell with the first introduction that my child serendipitously broke while collecting this afternoon. Perhaps it is total nonsense, but I read that the shell helps.

The initial results: Did I say she was good natured? I poked around to take a few nosy pictures of the progress and she hissed and puffed up at me! Hurrah! That’s a first for her and great sign those mothering instincts are kicking into high gear. As of dusk tonight, the chicks seem to be doing fine under #1 adopted mum.

The next steps: Over the next few days, I’ll be watching our new family like that @#*$! red-tailed hawk circling my house. Because these are waaay over day-old (nearly two weeks!), I’m going to have to make sure they are getting enough food and water since they don’t have that yolk sac insurance.

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Orpington Update: I Think She’s Ok!

A few days ago it looked like a wild ax murderer went through our coop. Splashes of blood littered the floor. Our Buff Orpington was dripping blood from her mouth and roosting in an odd position. Everything being closed on Memorial Day weekend, I trawled the Internet for answers and the results scared the $#%! out of me. Was it the deadly infectious laryngotracheitis which would necessitate the culling of my entire flock? But there was no gasping, swelling, or lesions. Had they been poisoned by plotting neighbors? I couldn’t believe it. Did she get into a fight? Although the blood was bright red and fresh, I couldn’t detect any physical damage.

The next day the blood had dried into a black ring around her beak. There was no fresh bleeding. She even laid an egg, but continued to roost in an odd position in the nesting box. She came out periodically to eat and drink, leaving her broody compatriot inside to sit on eggs. Or empty nests.

This morning you would never know anything happened to her. She’s up scratching in the run with the ret of flock, minus broody Silkie, who stubbornly refuses to get off the nest insisting that she CAN be the first to incubate unfertilized eggs.

The conclusion? The miraculous healing and lack of any symptoms from the rest of the flock lead me to suspect a physical injury, possibly from our aggressive top hen that has bullying the other ladies. I miss our Speckled Sussex, who was taken by a hawk a few months ago, because during her reign at the top she was always decent to her flockmates.

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Help! There is Blood Dripping from my Chicken’s Beak!

I’m a wreck. I went out to the henhouse this morning to check for eggs. Everyone was looking for some treats as usual and I doled them out as usual. While everyone (except our broody Silkie) was eating, I checked for eggs, but instead found blood. What?! I took a closer look at the ladies and found our Buff Orpington had blood dripping, literally dripping, from her beak. Cornell Cooperative Extension, like everything else on Memorial Day weekend, is closed. I’m worried for her if its an injury and I’m worried for the rest of the flock if it’s contagious. I Googled it and I’m not encouraged by the results. What do I do? Help. Help. Help.

Here are some pictures of our sick girl. As far as I can tell, her sinuses don’t look swollen.

This is what alerted me to the problem in the first place. A frightening puddle of blood. She did come out of the henhouse when I brought food, ate some, and then she and some other ladies were curious when I took my camera out and came back inside.

Another clue is that there isn’t just the dripping blood, but some blobs of bloody tissue. I checked for external injuries, but see any signs.

In looking back on the past week, I wonder if my Silkie truly is broody or perhaps she is manifesting signs of something more sinister? Fortunately, Silkie is blood-free.

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UPDATE 6/2013:  She fully recovered.  After the dripping blood cleared, you could see where part of her top beak was missing. A year later, her beak has completely regrown so I suspect it was some sort of mechanical damage either from a a flock-mate or something around the yard.  Since we don’t have chicken-cam surveillance, I guess we’ll never know.

 

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