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...