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Author Topic: Chickens  (Read 34205 times)

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #120 on: June 27, 2019, 12:07:25 PM »
Summertime is mostly a lark for pastured chickens, but a little extra attention especially to the elderly ones on a no-cull homestead is worthwhile.

Peak heat may stress a hen that's up in years, which becomes noticeable when she remains sitting listlessly, not taking the usual interest in running around and chasing bugs.  It may be difficult to discern the difference between the natural end of her lifespan and the need for a simple electrolyte.  A  hen that's close to death will have a sunken crest and may not be able to swallow or process fluids.  If her crest is still erect, an intervention may help.

So the same electrolyte drench that's kept in the fridge for honeybees is also useful for chickens.  Numerous recipes exist on the web.  A simple mixture that we use here consists of 1:1 unrefined sugar in water, with a couple of fat pinches of mineral salt, a capsule of vitamin C powder or apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of bicarbonate buffer.  It can also be mixed preventively in water buckets for healthy hens in summertime.

We keep a stash of the soft plastic pipettes on hand, which come in handy for nursing wild birds, as well (one large birdhouse in our garden is "wild bird ER").  An ailing hen who is off to herself in one corner can be brought out to be with her sisters, assuming they are peaceful and not prone to hazing a weak member of the flock.  She may enjoy some extra attention from them.  In winter, a sick-bay box is always ready to be filled with hay for a feathered patient in the garage.

Our eldest Rhode Island Red, simply called "Old Red," who is nine years old is not taking our summer heat wave well, or is about to pass away - we're not sure which just yet.  Two days of feeding her the electrolyte drench via pipette have at least succeeded in making her well enough to take a basic interest in her sisters and bugs again, although nothing succeeds in getting her back up on her feet.  But we'll accept her as she is, knowing that we've given her our best care.

After receiving the sticky fluid over a period of about 15 minutes, she received a gentle shower with the garden hose from the neck down, and we used wet fingers to wash her face so as not to spray water into her nostrils or ears.  Pleasant chatter with her during the procedure reassured both her and her sisters that no harm was being done to her, resulting in several others coming over to lie down together nearby and coo.  :)

« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 06:00:18 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #121 on: June 27, 2019, 07:59:26 PM »
Summertime is mostly a lark for pastured chickens, but a little extra attention especially to the elderly ones on a no-cull homestead is worthwhile.

Peak heat may stress a hen that's up in years, which becomes noticeable when she remains sitting listlessly, not taking the usual interest in running around and chasing bugs.  It may be difficult to discern the difference between the natural end of her lifespan and the need for a simple electrolyte.  A  hen that's close to death will have a sunken crest and may not be able to swallow or process fluids.  If her crest is still erect, an intervention may help.

So the same electrolyte drench that's kept in the fridge for honeybees is also useful for chickens.  Numerous recipes exist on the web.  A simple mixture that we use here consists of 1:1 unrefined sugar in water, with a couple of fat pinches of mineral salt, a capsule of vitamin C powder or apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of bicarbonate buffer.  It can also be mixed preventively in water buckets for healthy hens in summertime.

We keep a stash of the soft plastic pipettes on hand, which come in handy for nursing wild birds, as well (one large birdhouse in our garden is "wild bird ER").  An ailing hen who is off to herself in one corner can be brought out to be with her sisters, assuming they are peaceful and not prone to hazing a weak member of the flock.  She may enjoy some extra attention from them.  In winter, a sick-bay box is always ready to be filled with hay for a feathered patient in the garage.

Our eldest Rhode Island Red, simply called "Old Red," who is nine years old is not taking our summer heat wave well, or is about to pass away - we're not sure which just yet.  Two days of feeding her the electrolyte drench via pipette have at least succeeded in making her well enough to take a basic interest in her sisters and bugs again, although nothing succeeds in getting her back up on her feet.  But we'll accept her as she is, knowing that we've given her our best care.

After receiving the sticky fluid over a period of about 15 minutes, she received a gentle shower with the garden hose from the neck down, and we used wet fingers to wash her face so as not to spray water into her nostrils or ears.  Pleasant chatter with her during the procedure reassured both her and her sisters that no harm was being done to her, resulting in several others coming over to lie down together nearby and coo.  :)

Very thoughtful and touching.  It's refreshing to hear that not every one looks at each "unit of livestock" as dollars in the bank. 
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 05:23:51 AM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #122 on: July 22, 2019, 11:30:31 AM »
Lacy, our Silver Lace Wyandotte, assumed the role of queen of the flock when Old Red died of old age this summer.  She's pretty easy-going as queens go, except when she sees a male duck overstepping his bounds with the ladies  :)

Lacy weeding the driveway for me...

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #123 on: July 22, 2019, 11:51:00 AM »
It is so refreshing to see people who acknowledge that animals are "people" too, i.e., they have feelings, purpose, friends, and duties, and is also good to see you taking such good care of them.  She's beautiful.

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #124 on: July 22, 2019, 12:13:01 PM »
Thanks Ilinda - Am eager for pics of your keets when time allows!  :)

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #125 on: July 22, 2019, 01:03:34 PM »
Chickens groom themselves by preening and by taking "dust baths," in which they may vigorously scratch and roll around in the dirt until settling down for a half-nap, like this pair of Plymouth sisters:

These Plymouths have another sister who is off looking for bugs to eat.  Whenever we hear the new propaganda about how palatable insects are for people to eat, we can be thankful that chickens gladly do that distasteful bit of work for us, and leave us an egg instead.  Since the birds only cost around $5 each and do much of their own foraging, most folks should be able to own at least a few even if not living on a farm.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2019, 01:19:37 PM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #126 on: August 20, 2019, 12:46:34 PM »
We operate under the delusion assumption that our hens are deserving of proper names befitting ladies, and name each one with care.  These have been some of our favorites over the years:

Clementine (who just passed away at nearly age 12 today), Lucy, Fanny, Mamie, Henrietta, Buttercup, Lacy, Abby, Pearl, Mathilde, Daisy, Flossie, Dinah, Lily, Rosie, Gertrude, Valentine and Molly.

My favorite rooster was Ezekiel, nicknamed Zeke.  The ducks never got named; they just answer to "Duck-Duck,"  which we use to sound them out, wherever they may be grazing (and they always answer us back) :)

Will be bringing some young pullets home soon, and invite Town Hall members to suggest some new names that may be appropriate to a hen  :)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 09:51:37 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #127 on: August 22, 2019, 08:59:25 AM »
Thanks Ilinda - Am eager for pics of your keets when time allows!  :)
Just yesterday I happened on this post of yours and realized I need to get at least one pic of our beautiful and sweet guineas. 

Sadly last night the guineas did not want to go into their house (it was raining cats and dogs!), and I saw two of them fly up and perch on a ledge about 8' off ground and adjacent to garden.  The other two scurried into the tall vegetation in the garden when I tried to herd them in.

Checked several times last night, even braving going out in lightening and thunder, to no avail.  As I passed the two nearly identical grey/black guineas perched out in the open, I told them "I love you" and came back indoors.

This morning early I checked and found three separate piles of feathers: the two dark colored birds, and one white one.    I have not found the fourth guinea, or any pile of her feathers, so I left fresh food and water, as always and will check off and on today to see if the one survived and was/is in shock.  Because of all the raccoons and owls around, plus the mink I saw a few weeks ago, it's not likely any survived.  Kicking myself for not getting pics of the sweetest-sounding birds.  Their song is angelic.

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #128 on: August 22, 2019, 09:03:47 AM »
One more tidbit about guineas "song".  It is truly angelic when they are moving through tall vegetation, eating seeds or insects, and chatting with each other.  It is so melodic!  But when they are asserting themselves to the world, OMG, you'd find it hard to believe that THAT sound is coming from the same bird who moments earlier sounded like an angel from heaven.  Another reason they are/were so cool.

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #129 on: August 22, 2019, 09:13:02 AM »
Ilinda, This is heartbreaking, and so sweet that you sent love to them when they refused to come home in the storm. 

I hope you find the remaining one in good health.  It has been an especially difficult summer on all of our animals this year, hasn't it?

Since you raised them from keets, it may not be appreciated for me to say "time to order a new batch," so I'll back away from that.  However, since the guineas are known not to be completely domesticated, am hoping that you won't give up entirely, and might consider a tamer breed or hybrid.  I still picture you in my mind being surrounded by a flock that follows you around everywhere you go outside!

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #130 on: August 22, 2019, 09:20:31 AM »
One more tidbit about guineas "song".  It is truly angelic when they are moving through tall vegetation, eating seeds or insects, and chatting with each other.  It is so melodic!  But when they are asserting themselves to the world, OMG, you'd find it hard to believe that THAT sound is coming from the same bird who moments earlier sounded like an angel from heaven.  Another reason they are/were so cool.

I found this wonderful recording of their songs online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTmQKtiDYKU

Such a broad range in their musical repertoire!

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #131 on: August 23, 2019, 06:24:02 PM »
Hard to watch without getting misty eyed.  Thanks for posting.  Am now wondering if our guineas were already "pairing up", as one former neighbor with guineas said they often mate for life, and she recalled an incident where a male guinea of hers saw a truck hit its mate, and she said that male seemed depressed ever after that incident and never was the same.  Even though ours appeared nearly adult size, they were too young to mate, but who knows how soon they pick a partner?


ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #132 on: August 23, 2019, 06:31:05 PM »
Ilinda, This is heartbreaking, and so sweet that you sent love to them when they refused to come home in the storm. 

I hope you find the remaining one in good health.  It has been an especially difficult summer on all of our animals this year, hasn't it?

Since you raised them from keets, it may not be appreciated for me to say "time to order a new batch," so I'll back away from that.  However, since the guineas are known not to be completely domesticated, am hoping that you won't give up entirely, and might consider a tamer breed or hybrid.  I still picture you in my mind being surrounded by a flock that follows you around everywhere you go outside!
I had had one snippet dream that night where I saw the silver one standing at the far corner of the garden/pen--just standing there with its back to me.  It was about 2-3 AM when I had that and wondered what it meant.

When I first found the three separate piles of feathers the next morning, I did wonder if the other one somehow got away.  Hours later I decided to look in the garden/pen at the far corner where the snippet dream showed the guinea, and sure enough there was a pile of silvery feathers.  Who knows?  Maybe I was seeing what the raccoon or mink was seeing just before attacking.  I don't know how it all works, but they will always be in my heart.

When it's time for more birds, am thinking of Icelandic chickens, mainly because they are said to be good foragers, and can find food for themselves better than many of the heftier chickens.  Plus they are always such a colorful mix.

Overall would you say your chickens have fared OK this year considering the weird weather, strange times, etc.?

R.R. Book

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #133 on: August 24, 2019, 04:54:33 PM »
Oh, your dream just demonstrates further the bond between you and them!

This has been a difficult summer, and we've lost 4 birds all together.  Two were elderly and expected to go, but another one that was only a few years old just went very suddenly after appearing just fine shortly before, but it does happen sometimes that hens which have only gone through one or two moults will just burn themselves out laying.  Another one was beheaded by a raccoon who managed to get into the henhouse during the night through a window that, unbeknownst to me, needed repairing. 

We still have several left and are expecting a batch of Rhode Island Red pullets, but I especially miss Clementine.  She was the runt of our very first flock, always pecked on by mean queens until she managed to outlive the others and become venerable to subsequent newcomers.  She was always kind and protective of them, and never asserted herself as a bullying queen, but instead was like a mother to the whole flock, and would make young pullets sleep under both of her wings at night. 

ilinda

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Re: Chickens
« Reply #134 on: August 25, 2019, 10:49:35 AM »
What a lovely story about Miss Clementine.  She became a fine ChickenQueen and now she will always be remembered, and your good memories of her will waft around "In the Field" forever.

Maybe your experiences with chickens this year and mine with guineas, plus countless other farmer/gardeners' experiences are teaching us so much every single year.  Truthfully, each time I feel I have a tiny bit of knowledge about a thing, whether it be sweet potatoes or guineas, an entire world of new knowledge opens up, revealing that is is just the tip of the "knowledge iceberg".


 

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