Happy Peeps

October 9, 2011

Chicken Scratching

Inside the "run" which is the fenced in area attached to the coop, we throw a little "cracked corn" or chicken scratch, (purchased from either Country Max or Tractor Supply stores) onto the ground which the chickens will then scratch around in the straw to get to, thereby stirring up the straw so that it doesn't get too matted. Unfortunately for us, though, our yard being one long hill, eventually most of the straw does end up in a pile in front of the coop and we have to rake it back into place every so often. The corn is a treat, not their main diet; they have been eating a special feed for a while meant for growing chickens, and of course they spend quite a bit of time outside free ranging.

October 3, 2011

Chicken Rx

We had our first potential medical issue this weekend, reported by our chicken sitter who called while we were out of town to let us know one of our silkies (Beatrice) was not coming out of her nest box all day and didn't appear to be interested in doing anything. She's done this before and I assumed she might be broody, (Beatrice, not my friend) so I told her not to worry about it. We were in the D.C. area and there was really nothing we could have done, and I could not imagine subjecting my friend to an all-day chicken-vigil or vet visit.

On my first full day at home, I too noticed her inactivity and reluctance to be removed from the nest, although there was no egg under her. We wondered if she was egg bound. We had heard of this, where a chicken's egg would not come out. If the eggshell cracks inside, (and even if it doesn't) it could be fatal. A cracked shell can cut them enough to cause internal bleeding. Or it can cause a prolapsed vent or just even backed up plumbing.  That's all I knew about it.

So we did a little online research (the computer is the modern suburban chicken farmers bible) to find out what we could do, if anything, to help Beatrice, and found out she needed -- a bath!

We brought her inside to the kitchen sink (I lined it with a small towel so she wouldn't be standing on the slippery stainless steel) and filled it with very warm water. We placed her in the bath; she didn't put up a fuss really, but we did hold her wings in and held her in the water until we felt she was calm and then let go. She just sat there. She started taking some sips of the warm water, which I thought might be a very good thing if she was really bound up, and sure enough, in about 15 minutes she did poop. We kept her in for the full 30 minutes and then some. Drained the sink, towel dried her, and set her down on top of the towel where she could preen herself. She did appear to be having some pulsing movement near her vent, I thought she was either going to lay an egg, or poop again. But nothing came out.

She's resting now in a towel-lined box in the "library."  If she doesn't lay an egg tonight/tomorrow, we may need to do a little exploratory work on her, but hopefully not. Something tells me she will be fine.