Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Importance of Medical Kits

So I was right about my chicks so I ordered some from a farm in the valley.  I ordered 5 Silver Spangled Hamburgs and 5 Ameraucanas which are all different colours.  The Hamburgs will lay white round eggs and the Ameraucanas will lay blue/green eggs!  The chicks are a few weeks old now and I'll be posting some photos soon.  Last week I was extremely ill.  I had that wonderful flu going around that caused me to vomit for hours on end.  The next day I went to check on my chicks and one of them (who I named Luna) had almost all of her feathers ripped from her tail and she was bleeding.  I separated her, dipped her bottom in a weak iodine/water mixture to clean her off and when she dried I dabbed polysporin on her wounds.  We both laid next to the heater and had a nap; her in her box, me on the couch.  Later on I bandaged her tiny bottom and put her back in with her fellow chicks.  I have a particular fondness for Luna.  She reminds me of me.  I know that sounds crazy, chickens don't normally remind me of people but Luna does. She's so pale you can see every bit of her skin and feathers even with the downy fluff still on here.  That's probably why she got pecked so much.  She's also incredibly awkward. She bumbles around, falls and keeps relatively quiet and calm.  I hope very much that she actually is a girl and not a boy because I've grown so attached to her as a quiet, pale, awkward person myself.

The good thing about this situation is that I had all this stuff on hand.  I have dealt with injured hens before and I think I have pretty much everything I need to cover the basics.  When you haven't grown up on a farm or in the country you really don't realize the necessity of doing your own vet work.  I have had several chickens who have needed bandages, home remedies for illnesses and more.  If you're looking at getting chickens, just remember, if you're squemish about culling one of your own or packing a wound with polysporin, this may not be the animal for you.  The other thing about chickens is they are incredibly hardy but fragile creatures.  Meaning they are easily injured but will carry on with their routine like nothing has happened.  Then a few days later you've got a hen curled up in the nest box half dead.  It's not pleasant.  This is why I check my hens over at night, usually a few times a week.  I check their legs for mites, they backs and bellies for injuries their vents for prolapses, I look over their wattles and combs for frost bite or pecks from other hens.  It is tedious but it's easy once you know what to look for. 

This all brings me to one last point.  I give my chicks medicated feed and water when they're young.  A lot of people don't like that stuff because of the whole super bug situation and how things are done in factory farms however having said that, many people acknowledge that chicks are fragile and if you have other birds they are susceptible to catching things from them.  So I use the medicated stuff up until they are old enough to join the big flock.  But I have noticed that the bags of feed and the bags of powder for the water state that you shouldn't eat a hen on medication or it's eggs.  If factory farms are using antibiotics all the time, it stands to reason that we are always eating antibiotic filled eggs and meat.  One of the other reasons I do not eat meat or eggs from the grocery store anymore.  My girls go off the medication early enough that if I eat one (rooster) or they lay eggs, it will not effect them and will have cycled through their system already.  Makes you think...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

I know you aren't supposed to count your chickens before they hatch but I fear the worst for this batch I incubated.  Not a sound and it is supposedly hatch day.  I am hoping that I will go to sleep and I will wake up and a chick will be chirping tomorrow morning and it will be like Christmas (or Easter) morning!  But I don't think we got a great batch.  We bought some from a friend and later found out that Araucanas do not have a great hatch rate.  I noticed while candling several blood rings indicating that several had died half way through.  I'll give them a couple more days before saying good bye and removing them.

Matthew wants leghorn chicks but I'm not sure how I feel.  Leghorns are the ones with the big floppy combs.  They are brilliant layers (they lay white eggs) but they are prone to frost bite and are not always the friendliest.  I want something hardier and more weather resistant as well as nicer.  But the ones I want I have to order in batches of 25!  Can you image?  34 hens on 2 acres, free ranging all over the darn place?  I don't think so. 

Anyway wish me luck.  Hopefully I'll have some fluffy friends soon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snow Broody

So many people talk about their broodies as if they are adorable.  I am about to break this mold.  My broody Go-Go is not adorable.  She is mean.  She's the meanest of my chickens when she isn't broody.  When she is broody, she is a hand pecking, chicken biting, stinky jerk.  Picture this:  Flighty hen decides she wants to be a mother (even though it snowed for three days and is currently -3 C).  So she hops on the nest and bites any hen that tries to lay an egg near her.  She also tries to bite you as you repeatedly remove her from said nest.  Then once you've got her off the nest, she proceeds to have one of the largest, stinkiest poops you've ever cared to see or smell from an animal that small.  You try not to throw up and try to get her to go over to the other hens.  She then lays on the ground like a three year old taking a tantrum.  You pick her up and toss her over to the other hens.  She stands up so she doesn't faceplant in the snow.  You go back inside for a half hour and come out and repeat this process again.  At some point you will get so annoyed, you'll question whether strangling the animal might be slightly easier.  Okay... a lot easier.  But you try other measures like putting ice under her or poking her.  The ice melts underneath her and you get tired of poking her before she gets tired of being poked.  You give up and start the process over again the next day.

So yeah.  That's what I've been dealing with.  Have fun with your invisible babies in the snow Go-Go.  I have eggs in an incubator but I'm not giving them to her.  I don't have the space for a broody and if I let such a flighty hen raise the babies, they'll never be tame.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Tonight I am going to try candling the eggs.  It basically means I'll be shining a bright light behind the egg to see if anything is inside.  It may be too early but I'm going to give it a shot anyway.  I found signs of chicks quite early in my last ones so two days may be enough but I might have to try again in the coming days.

Apparently my chicks are going to be black.  Which leads me to post this from

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's been a long time

I don't remember why I stopped blogging.  One of the few things I could blog about for hours was my chickens.  So let's give you an idea of what has happened since I stopped.

When we got back from a trip this summer we found poor BB's remains in the yard.  Someone driving too fast on our road had hit her.  How do I know they were going to fast?  Well our road is a no exit road with tons of kids, pets, and potholes on it.  Oh and chickens.  Anyway some people go way too fast and those same people who do, also complain about my birds.  Even the neighbours said, you'd be an idiot not to see the giant birds in the road.  So BB was dead and I was sad.  My red sex links flourished and grew up.  They turned into wonderful layers and integrated with the flock nicely... except Vincent.  Alabama had become the leader of the flock and she wasn't ready to give that up.  She didn't take kindly to Vincent's approaches and would not mate with him period.  So we separated him and gave him away.  Oh and Mackie.. Matthew's kindness to her was also folly.  As much as we wanted her to live and survive, something was weird about her.  She had no wattles or comb, at least not developed and she was half the size of the others.  She held her own but eventually, when she was afraid she'd faint.  One day my little  brother came over and accidentally surprised them.  Later that night I found Mackie was not in the coop.  I went out in the woods and found her there, still warm, where she had had a heart attack in fear of the stranger wandering the yard.  It was probably for the best.  As sweet and as peppy as she was, she was not a healthy bird.

We've got 12 Easter Egger eggs that I just put in the incubator tonight.  I hope we get some chicks... so here's the blog again.  It's been brought back to life!

Vincent before he turned into a jerk but once he was a grown up.

The gang before they were fully grown.

Some of the original babies dustbathing.

Mackie before she died.  See, no wattles or comb.

Shoshana at the front and Bridget at the back.  You can see they developed beautiful feathers.  They're grey underneath, have black tail feathers and are a dark brown everywhere else.

The Easter Eggers I just put in the incubator!

My boys!  My kitten grew bigger than Fawkes.  Giacomo and Fawkes are great pals, despite the five year age difference.

And Belle and Matthew are as sweet as ever :)