Monthly Archives: March 2014

dogs

We are out in the country a little, and there are dogs, running free all over the place.   Another dog tried to get into the pen today.  He was running around the netting, when I went outside and yelled, he ran away.  I don’t want to be the crazy lady with a stack of dead dogs in her yard, but I also don’t want to be the crazy chicken lady that prepares for death of all chickens and need replacements.  Just like the chicks pecking each other and a dog hunting chickens, it’s instinct.  I am just not sure what to do about it.  Can’t prevent a dog from wanting to chase and eat our chickens, and I don’t want to put up a permanent run (that ultimately is no safer for the chickens because few things are predator proof).  I keep in the back of my mind what books and friends who have raised chickens for years, prepare for loss, whether it is a rooster, a dog or disease.

Shot glasses

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These used to get filled with my favorite brown booze, but now they sit in the window and dry egg shells, which then get crushed up and fed back to the chickens to add calcium and grit to their diet.

rough day for one of the chicks

Wednesday was my day off from the new job. In the afternoon I noticed some oranage-ish spots around the brood, trying to figure out what it is I noticed one of the chicks getting her tail feathers pecked. When I grabbed her up this is what we found.

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We cleaned her up and put her back in the brooder but the hens were still pecking at her.  So she got to spend the night in the big house.

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On Thursday I got some Blu Kote to cover the red, which just begs the birds to peck at.  We moved the brooder out of the window, to see if maybe they were just getting cranky cause the light was keeping them up all night.  Added some pedialite to their water, in case it was a lack of sodium, we added a little roost bar to help, and I made suet muffins to help keep them busy.  We are trying to add some “boredom busters” in the brooder, but it better get warm fast.

At 5 weeks old, I can’t imagine how that brooder is going to hold them much longer.  I just looked back at the old posts, and we put the batch last year out in the coop at 6 weeks. This weather needs to work with us or those birds are gonna outgrow the brooder.

4 week old chicks

We got these chicks at 2 weeks old, they are VERY jumpy. I think we would choose to get “just hatched chicks” who where more comfortable with us. We had to clean out the brooder today and they were put in an old gardening tub.
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They were still freaking out once back in the brooder.
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The big hens have lost feathers, and we treated for mites or bugs. There is one hen that hasn’t lost any feathers in the back, she might be a feather plucker. They got some plain yogart today.
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More Chicks

If you remember we started last May with 6 Rhode Island Reds. In July something got into the coop and killed a no name bird. We took Elivs out to be processed, he currently resides in the freezer. Buddy just up and left one day, although I might have suspicion that a dog might be involved. And now Floppy is no longer. So of the 6 original birds we have 2 left. Anna and Brent at Bramble Hollow Farms let us take two live birds home on the last chicken day last year, so we have 4 hens…of the 8 total birds we got last year. I take FULL responsibility for two, Elvis and no name. No name because we left a 3 inch gap in the coop, that’s how the raccoon or opossum or whatever got in, Elvis, well, we didn’t need 2 roosters.

After yesterday’s trauma of having to cull an injured bird, we had agreed to get 6 new chicks. We went to the local feed shop and were lucky enough to get 3 RIR and 3 barred rock. They are heritage breed, hardy, good layers and they will blend in with what we already have. The man behind the counter told me they are about 2 weeks old. The reason being a man order 100 chicks for the season and then lost his job.

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Could one of these be the new Floppy?
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They are cute as can be…Madigan has already names this one Kimono
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Floppy Comb–details of her demise

Friday morning after I let the chickens out, and after walking up to the road to see if it was icy for slushy, a dog got into our chicken pen. By the time I got out there the dog had gotten Floppy Comb by the leg, given her a pretty violent shake and when the dog dropped her I knew it wasn’t going to be good. It wasn’t.

Even though I didn’t see any blood or organs, it looked like her leg had gotten popped out of socket, up at the thigh. She wasn’t able to stand on it and it jutted out to the side unable to hold her weight. After crying and getting her in a basket and sharpening a knife, I thought I needed to try and save her.

I felt like MacGyver trying to pull together a sling that would hold her up off the leg, rigged a water and food container by her head so she could eat and drink. She seemed like she was in shock and not make noised, which is unusual for her, she is a chatty bird. I called my chicken experts at Bramble Hollow Farms to see what they thought.

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Anna said they have had some luck with splinting. She said if she is eating and drinking that’s a good sign. We talked a bit about the humane thing to do, how it’s a judgement call. She had seen birds bounce back from injury worse than that. I had to go to work which I thought was a good thing, cause I would have obsessed about her all day.

When I left for work she was eating, I felt positive that she would be okay, at least for the day and Boomer could take a look at her see what he thought. I called him on the way into work, told him what happened. Asked him to feed her, check on her when he got home.

A couple hours later, he texted me said she was eating, seemed a little perkier. At one point she got a little feisty and tried to get out of the contraption I made. He decided to take her back out to the coop, she drank some water, lots of water, pecked around a bit but was having trouble getting around. She made her way into the coop, got into the nest box and I will assume spent the night there.

We talked about what best case scenario would be, I said either all better or if she had died. It would be best case for us, since then we wouldn’t have to do the dirty work. Sadly when I let the hens out she wasn’t running out to get food. I had to coax her out with a stick. She went under the food shelter and was all crouched down.

As we watched her, trying to decide if she just needed a little more time to bounce back, she was breathing weird, he butt was moving in a weird way, she just wasn’t looking or acting like Floppy Comb. I asked Boomer to move the shelter so I could try and run her off, see if she had the ability to get away from something, even if it was just my boot nudging her. She moved, not well, and only a short distance. The combo of all that we decided it would be best to take care of it as quickly and humanely as we could.

The deed was done. Floppy isn’t suffering and I don’t have to worry about her being the slow bird in the yard. When Boomer and I were talking last night he told me that his first thought when I told him a dog got one of the birds was “I hope it’s not Floppy.”

So we made the decision last night to get 6 more chicks, to cover our bases in the fall. So expect much happier posts in the days to come of cute new little chicks.

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Floppy Comb 2013-2014

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That’s how many eggs we got in February. The most eggs we have gotten in a month so far. I have 2 dozen to give away, maybe a dozen to my in laws and a dozen to a lucky coworker.

I would like to say I am starting my seeds, but I really don’t “feel” like it, it’s cold. Maybe if we warm up this week I might start some seeds in the sun room, but it’s cold in there too. A think a green house is a great idea, but I am thinking it might be too cold to even build one Maybe a late fall project.