Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Chicken update

 Let's start with the sad news.  Toasty Crunch died during the night about a month ago.  She had been slowing down over the preceding weeks, so it wasn't really a surprise, but it was still sad, of course.  Average backyard chicken lifespan is 5 to 7 years, and she turned 5 in May, so I guess it was her time to go.

Toasty Crunch

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Next, we'll cover the dramatic news.  When I went out to check on the girls yesterday evening, I found Charlotte huddling behind a barrier (more on the barrier later) with blood all over her face and head.  I couldn't tell where the blood was coming from, and it appeared that she was not actively bleeding, but one thing about chickens is they like to peck at red things, like blood, so I wanted to get her out of there.  I set her up in the grow-out/isolation pen overnight.

I assumed that Rocky must have attacked her, since there were no predators present, and no other chickens above Charlotte in the pecking order, but that would have been so out of character for Rocky.  Yes, she's at the top of the pecking order, but she doesn't go out of her way to attack others, and she's never, ever drawn blood.

In the morning, Bubby and I washed Charlotte's head and deployed a wound treatment spray, but we still couldn't find the source of the blood.  Upon further observation, I noticed that Charlotte was favoring one foot, and one of her toenails looked odd, so I'm guessing she broke her toenail, and then scratched her head with the bleeding foot?  Seems implausible, given the amount of blood, but so does Rocky attacking Charlotte.

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And now for the eggciting/surprising news.  We have four new chicks: Fluffer-Nutter, a light brahma; Amelia Eggheart, a cream legbar; Socrates, a prairie bluebell egger; and Maple-Hibiscus, a blue laced red wyandotte.  They're 13 weeks old now, and doing great.  They have just the beginnings of combs and wattles forming, and they should start laying within a month or two.

Amelia Eggheart, Fluffer-Nutter, Socrates, Maple-Hibiscus

They spent their first 7 or 8 weeks in a brooder in our bathtub before moving to the grow-out pen outside full time.  Flutter-Nutter and Maple are about Charlotte's size, and as a group, they were getting too big for the the 8 square foot grow-out pen, plus it was becoming increasingly difficult to get the chicks back into the grow out pen after letting them out to move the pen, so we moved them into the big girl coop last week on Friday.

In preparation, I set up a couple of barriers for the littles to hide behind should the bigs chase them, and I set up two additional feeders and two additional waterers to give the littles a better chance of actually getting food and water.

Amelia Eggheart, Maple-Hibiscus, Fluffer-Nutter, Socrates
On this day, they were avoiding going into the hen house to sleep because the mean girls were in there, but they kept knocking each other down because they all wanted to be as close to the hen house as possible.  Bubby and I got them in and situated on the roost, and I think they're figuring out how to go to bed on their own now.

Here's the surprising news: the integration has gone really well.  Three days after the integration, the littles were no longer spending all of their time hiding from the bigs, and the bigs have stopped lunging whenever they catch sight of a little.  I am amazed.

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My favorite lap chicken, Esther

In other chicken news, Esther laid an egg yesterday, after an almost 9 week hiatus while she underwent a partial molt.  Rocky is growing feathers after molting about 3 weeks after Esther, so hopefully she'll begin laying again soon, too.  Both Esther and Rocky are 5 years old, the only two left of my original flock.

Charlotte, Toasty Crunch, Rocky, Esther

Charlotte has been laying like a champ all spring and summer, including one in the grow-out pen this morning.  Charlotte is 2 years old, the only chicken left from my third flock.

In conclusion, we have 7 chickens, four of whom are new, two of whom are laying eggs, and everyone seems to be doing ok.

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