Monday, 25 February 2013

The continuing diagnosis of our ill hen

Poor Didee.  She was hunkered down beneath the door ramp today, staying out of the wind.

I brought her inside today to spend some time with me in the warmth.  We sat by a heater and I feed her a mixture of milky bread, wheat and barley seeds and some cheese.  She really loved all of it!  But I think she has a special like for cheese now!
I checked her over for mites, lice or fleas and she looks clean and clear of any parasites.  She feels very thin though, I could feel her sharp breast bone.  I really hope she can fight this illness.

Bizzy Lizzy meanwhile laid and egg and it was still warm when I found it at 7pm - she must have laid it quite late in the evening, as it was already dark by then.

Had to do some repairs on the hen house today, the top part of the entrance ramp had become unattached so my Mister fixed it for them.  Poor hens, I do feel sorry for them in this windy and slightly snowy weather.  It's just so unpleasant for them, but I know they have very good insulation to protect them.  Funny how we attribute human emotions to them.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Red lines and a Bouncing Rosie

We had one egg from our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy this morning and when I came home from my errands there was an egg from Matilda too!

Strangely though, both today's and yesterday's eggs from Matilda had red blood lines on them, running from the small end and down towards the wide end.  Oh I do hope she's ok.  It would be a shame if laying eggs were hurting her.  Also, at the wide end Matilda's eggs have little calcium bubble-lumps on them.

Come to think of it... sometimes I have seen her vent hole protrude outwards when she is squeezing her muscles  like her in-ies are coming out-ies.

Didee and Rosie our blue Orpingtons have got muckie bums again!  And Rosie has that orange caecal poo all over her feathers!  Yuck.  Another warm bath for those bottoms.  Didee is still hunched and pale...

Rosie our blue Australorp with a very wet undercarriage from the damp grass - very amusing little hen though!
But I did see one of the funniest things yesterday.  We had tied up some cabbage leaves to the roof of their cage and they jump up to peck at it.

But Rosie sort of bounces like a beach ball - down, up, down.  She is so sudden and straight.  Just so funny and really sweet.  Very different to Matilda the Australorp's way of leaning onto one leg and leaping with one leg going out to the side for balance.  Rosie was looking much perkier yesterday and tonight she was doing a lot of nestling into the woodshavings on the floor of their house instead of going onto the perch.

She was sort of scuffling about making a hollow...... maybe we have another hen coming into lay...? :-)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Eliminating illnesses in our wee Hen

Our bantam blue Australorp Didee still has a pale comb and and still seems to not be at her best.

Today I sat on the ground in their pen and fed some extra wheat seeds to her, hoping that at least these would keep her warm once she went off to bed.  Bizzy Lizzy seems to like coming near her and giving her a peck.  Poor Didee just squawks and flaps but doesn't really move away.
So far I've done some internet research and come up with the following:

Egg-bound  It can't be this because she does go onto the perch and that would be too uncomfortable for an egg bound hen.  Also she is walking normally, not upright like a penguin the way an egg-bound hen would walk.
Impacted crop  It can't be this because she doesn't give off a smell and I have seen her eat both food and grit as well as grass, wheat seeds and cabbage.  She has a full crop at night and an empty one in the morning and doesn't seem at all uncomfortable.
Digestive problem Her poos can often be quite normal looking, although there are a lot of white poos on her bottom feathers again today, so she must have something wrong with her. She is thin though, and when I pick her up her breast bone is really pointy, although to look at her is deceptive as her feathers are very full.

Anyway, I will keep monitoring her and try to eliminate all the possibilities.

It was very windy today and they had dug themselves little holes to hunker down in!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Treat went down a Treat

The sun was out a little bit today!  The two Orpingtons were enjoying it - they were fluffing themselves up and burying themselves as deep as possible into the dry, kicked-up moss!  It was so lovely to see them enjoying life.  Didee (in the foreground) looks a bit perkier today - comb slightly pinker.

Matilda and Bizzy Lizzy were squawking amongst themselves to see who would get to lay their egg box first in the house.

A new treat that went down a treat - My Mister soaked a slice of stale home-made bread in some milk and they just loved it!  Will definitely remember that for every stale slice we end up with.  Home made bread does not seem to last as long as shop-bought but we find that a positive really. Would rather not eat the preservatives anyway.
 Bizzy Lizzy was acting like a bit of a two-year-old with it though, she'd get a piece, then when she saw one of the others enjoying a piece of their own she suddenly dropped hers and headed over to snatch their piece!  Always wanting the toys that the other children are playing with.  But Didee and Rosie outsmarted her -they take a piece and then turn their tails towards her.  They're so big and fluffy that Bizzy Lizzy can't see past the feathers to notice if there's anything in their beaks.  Resilient little Orpingtons.

Two eggs this afternoon - they were still warm when I collected them.

Saturday, 9 February 2013


About 9am this morning both Bizzy Lizzy and Matilda were crowing and pacing up and down, they both wanted to lay an egg.  Bizzy Lizzy got in first and Matilda waited around for her to finish.  I don't know why she didn't just use the other nest box, but she instead waited to use the pre-warmed one that Bizzy Lizzy was occupying.  In the end we got two lovely eggs from our girls, so all that crowing and hoo-ha was worth it.

We let the hens come right out of the pen today and explore the back garden.  My Mister was showing them the underneath side of some seedlings that were covered with tasty little slugs.

Bizzy Lizzy and Didee taking a keen interest in the under-side of a piece of wood.  Even our cat Mr Bingley  thinks he might like to try a juicy slug!
They really loved getting out and about.  Even Didee our poorly hen seemed perkier and brighter today, her comb is a bit pinker today too.  Maybe being confined with the slightly-vicious Bizzy Lizzy was stressing her, and the freedom of the backgarden has meant she can get away and enjoy some peace?

Friday, 8 February 2013

We've had two eggs from Matilda and three eggs from Bizzy Lizzy over the last few days!  It's such a treat.  Their combs and wattles are much redder now, so that is definitely a good way to tell who are the layers.  But we didn't know this until we had layers and non-layers to be able to compare them to one another.

Our Orpington hen Didee who is at the bottom of the pecking order is looking a bit poorly.  She still has lots of white poo encrusted onto her feathers and under her perch I found very watery and milky poo.  Today she was fairly listless and dull.  Her head was hunched down into her shoulders and she didn't do a lot.
Didee on the left - hunched in and dull

Didee - All by herself, under the shelter

I don't think it's an impacted crop, because I've been reading about that and one of the symptoms is that they don't eat or drink, and I did see Didee eating and drinking towards the end of the day.  The orange poo I previously had worried about is normal for every tenth poo so maybe they didn't need to be wormed after all.  Another possibility could be egg-bound.  She was the first one to ever lay an egg on our first day of having hens, and she hasn't layed many at all since then, so it is possible.  I shall give her a warm bath tomorrow and see how she goes.  It'll be good to wash off those crusty poos anyway!

I'll do some 'googling' and see what else it could be.  Hopefully we can help her.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Scots Dumpy gets her Name

We have finally decided on a name for our bantam Scots Dumpy!
We'd like to introduce you to Bizzy Lizzy
Lizzy because the Mister thinks her eyes look like a lizard.
Lizzy from me because it is Elizabeth Bennett's pet-name from her sisters.  Our two cats are also named after characters from Pride and Prejudice (Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley - and they suit these names perfectly!)
Plus she is always busy doing something or going somewhere, and of course Bizzy rhymes with Lizzy.

And so here are the 4 bantam girls, all with names:
Australorp Matilda, Orpington Didee, Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy, Orpington Rosie.

One egg today from Matilda our darling top hen.

And again, all four hens put themselves onto perches this evening.  Aaaa, all is well in our home today.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Little Layers

We had assumed that the milky-tea coloured egg was from our Australorp Matilda and today it is confirmed that she is the pale-brown egg layer!  My Mister saw her spending a lot of time in the hen house this morning and when he went out to check there it was!

Our still-un-named Scots Dumpy also layed one of her shiny white eggs today too.  She is a very good layer - just about every day she's given us an egg.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Our Scots Dumpy was in and out of the house a lot this morning.  In and out.  In and out.  Four times!  When we got home around lunch time we saw the reason - a little shiny white egg in the nest box. 

This afternoon we did a little maintenance around the hen house.  We'd seen a log on the side of the road yesterday and thought it's a similar circumference to their feeder, so my Mister cut it up today so that we could use it as a stand for the feeder, and now their feed is at the recommended height of their backs - hopefully this will make eating easier for ma wee hens.

Whilst I cleaned up their hen house and put in fresh bedding, we let them outside the netted pen and into our backgarden.  I want them to get used to being handled so used the opportunity to try to hold them and examine them.  I was able to pick up Rosie as well as Didee.  They were both really wet underneath.  Their undercarriages and their fronts do seem to always be touching the wet grass.  I shall have to do some research on Orpingtons and see if others have the same trouble.  I wonder if heavily feathered hens keep their feathers dry themselves or do I need to help them?

Everyone put themselves onto perches again!  Success!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

They're putting themselves onto their perches now!

Last night the two hens at the top of the pecking order (Matilda the Australorp and our no-named Scots Dumpy) both put themselves up onto the perch for the first time!  I only had to put Rosie and Didee onto the perch this time.

We had two eggs in the same nest box today.  One is small and white (the Scots Dumpy's egg) and the other was medium size and a milky-tea colour.  Definitely different to the brown speckly egg we think is layed by Matilda.  I wonder who our new layer is?  We think there are three hens now laying.

I was eating an apple whilst watching the hens and dropped the core - and all of a sudden a black and white blur came running towards me, collected the core in her beak and then raced away again to keep her treasure all to herself in a corner.  SO funny!

Today the two Orpingtons seemed more active than they usually are.  They were pecking and walking around a lot more.  Perhaps it is the slightly sunnier day we had today.  Anything is better than snow and frost.

Our hen Didee who is third in the pecking order decided to brave the wrath of the others and went up the ramp first tonight.  Despite blocking the entrance, Matilda and the Scots Dumpy managed to push past her.  Rosie tried to shove past too, but instead Didee kindly moved out of the way for her.  Then the Scots Dumpy wouldn't let her in at all, so she went back down the ramp.  The Scots Dumpy followed her down and stopped for a nightcap and her supper, so Rosie saw her chance and got up the ramp very quickly.  Once the Scots Dumpy went back up into the house there was lots of squawking and fussing, and when I opened the door to have a peek they were all four of them sitting on the perches!!!!  I am so impressed! I definitely don't think I will have to put them on myself anymore.  Ah, ma wee hens are growing up!