Thursday, 22 August 2013

Holiday Souvenir

Recently we went on holiday and had a lovely relaxing time.  Whilst we were away we put our cats into a cattery and our hens into a hen hotel.  It was a lovely place.  They had their own run and house underneath an apple tree.  On the day we went to collect them I phone first to let her know we were on our way when I was told that she had seen blood drops in their house this morning.  After inspecting the birds she discovered a big scab on our white hen's tail that had been knocked!
She didn't have any sores on her at all when we sent them there, so possibly she had been pecked out of boredom in their holiday hen enclosure.  She had put some wound powder onto the scab but we decided to take her to the vets that day on our way home just to get her checked out.  The vet gave us antibiotics to administer down her beak for the next 5 days and advised us not to use any more of the wound powder, so that she'd be better able to see the wound next time we came in.
We kept her with the others in the back yard as usual and sprayed her tail with a brown smelly anti-peck spray.  We took her back to the vet after the 5 days and this time they cleaned her wound with an antiseptic wash and picked off the scab.  Didee was to have a further 10 day course of double-dose antibiotics and I was to clean her wound every day with the antiseptic wash.
Our cat Mr Bingley looking at Whitey Didee with her new anti-peck tail and Rosie through the window

Now that the scab is gone you can see the sore - I won't take photos as it is very gross.  A mound has swollen up near her preen gland, about the size of a good apricot.  It is a bit pussey and bloody and the feathers are trying to grow right through it and around it.  Her preen gland is swollen and pink too.  Having it cleaned and touched seems to hurt her a bit so I have to be very gentle and she really doesn't like taking the medicine.  I hold her firmly around the body and the head whilst my Mister administers the drops down her beak with a syringe, trying to get it to go down the right tract!  We have taken to giving her meal worms afterwards as a reward for her daily sessions and she does relish that part of the ordeal.
When I go outside she used to be so easy to pick up but now she seems to hide from me, she must be associating the catch and cuddle with the trauma of medicine and wound cleaning.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Summer Update

I am loving being a backyard chicken owner.  It is the highlight of my day to look out the window and see what they are up to, and then to go outside and have four little friends come trotting towards me.  I have enjoyed coming to their aid in the fight against red-mite terrorists and keeping their feed and water fresh.  It is a more rewarding experience than I had ever imagined.

So this is what the girls are up to lately:

Our Scots Dumpy Bizzy Lizzy has been regularly laying eggs in a corner of the garden instead of in the nest box and has been leaving a lot of feathers in the nest, so I think she will soon go broody unfortunately.  She is a really good egg layer too.
Rosie has been the head of the pecking order since Matilda went broody but now that she is no longer broody, Rosie has somehow maintained her new status of top hen and Matilda seems happy to be second in command.
We haven't seen any eggs from Matilda yet, but I'm sure she will start laying again in time.
Whitey Didee is still at the bottom but is a resilient little bird who manages to stay out of trouble and still have a very full and happy day.  She has been doing some really loud warning calls for absolutely no reason.  She just stands there "her-ARK!  her-ARK!" over and over.  No other hens bothering her and even when I go up to her she just stands there calling as though someone is killing her.  I've even picked her up whilst she's doing it and tried to calm her, which eventually works, but once put back down she still seems jumpy.  It isn't every day though, so hopefully it will pass.

And this is what we have been up to lately:

We have had a lot of rainy downpours lately, despite it being Summer, and our hens don't really have a lot of shelter.  So my Mister made this shelter to sit next to their house.

He made it to have the same angle run-off as their house run.  It has three upright posts on the vertical side attached to a rectangle framework on the ground.  The rock is just to weigh it down during windy days.

He also made the small door to their run, it just slides in from the top at night to keep animals from getting into their run and their feed container.

Hope you are all enjoying your Summer with your hens!  I have enjoyed reading how other hen keepers are coping with the variety of weather we've all been having lately.  Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, it all adds to my knowledge so that I can give the best life possible to my hens.