Friday, 21 February 2014

Colours to tell them all Apart!

We now have three hens that are all black bantam Australorps and it can be difficult to tell them apart from a distance.  It is easy when we're outside with them, as Olive is the smallest and has scaly, lumpy legs.  Queenie is the largest and has an unusual pronged part to her comb, and Rosie is the most confident and always seems to be around us.
The trouble is being able to tell who is who from a distance, knowing who is all by themselves, missing or who comes down the ramp last in the mornings.  So we've put coloured rings on their legs.
Rosie has a red ring - rosy red makes sense
Little Olive has a pink ring - wee baby girl pink

Queenie has a purple ring - purple is an ancient regal colour
Our two new Australorps will arrive on Sunday, and they will be getting a coloured ring too, I've ordered a multipack of assorted rings online.  Thinking up new names that are linked to colours should make name choosing much easier -
Yellow = Daisy, Sunny, Gloria,
Blue = Bluebell, Sky,
Orange = Marigold, Amber,
Brown = Bronwyn,
Green = Verde, Ivy,

Please share if you have any ideas - I'd love some help!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Can't believe it's another death in our garden

Just when you think everything is going swimmingly, another surprise is in store.
Our longest lasting hen who has been with us for three winters, Bizzy Lizzy our Scots Dumpy came down from the hen house last week with one eye closed.

Two days later she was hunched down and then the next day she couldn't walk on her right leg and was barely able to limp.

You can see her limp leg poking backwards in this photo.
We kept an eye on her over the weekend and helped her to food, water as well as in and out of the house, and took her to the vets on Monday.  They ruled out an injury and suspect it to be something neurological.

She was given two steroid injections and a 5 day course of antibiotics.  Over the five days she did show some signs of improvement.  She seemed to want to stay with the other hens, and she was able to use her leg a lot more, swinging it forward and walking more smoothly although not putting actual weight on it.  Her eye opened up, but she doesn't seem to have any control over the lower lid.  Towards the end of the 5 days on antibiotics she deteriorated and so on our final trip to the vet we had to say goodbye.
Her other lower lid no longer seemed to close and there was no evidence of her being able to open her beak by herself and when she did aim for a seed she missed it by an inch anyway.  Her comb had dropped to one side, and her head and neck were always tilted to one side.

It was sad to say goodbye and I shed some discreet tears in the vets, but it was for the best.  Her condition was advancing despite the medication.  The vet doesn't think it is the sort of thing that the others will catch, most likely an infection that got into her nervous system.  She must have been in pain and discomfort so I am glad that she no longer has any pain.
Her better eye.  Walking a bit better, although limp leg is
still towards the back and not carrying any weight.

She did have a good life here with us, despite being our bossiest, broodiest, flightiest and least tame hen.  Thanks for all your naughtiness Bizzy Lizzy, you taught us a lot about the various natures of hens.
Bizzy Lizzy, Scots Dumpy, in better days

And so, another phone call to the breeders of our two newest hens, and we're off to collect two more Australorps on Sunday!  We'll have 5 hens at one time - the most we've ever housed!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Integration Process is Complete

Our two new girls Queenie and Olive have names!  One because she's a big lady for a bantam, and she is the only hen we've ever had who has had the chance to be a mother.  The breeder we bought them from said she had hatched and mothered 10 chicks.  Olive is so named because she is small and black.
We have let them out together with Rosie and Bizzy Lizzy quite a bit the last few days and have opened up both their wee house and the big house in the evening so that they could choose where they felt comfortable sleeping - and both Queenie and Olive, after attempting to fly up into a tree, followed the other two into the big house!  Yay!  

So that is the slow integration period now officially over.  We'll let them all sleep together and spend the days together but will leave the wee house available for another week, just in case they need somewhere as a retreat.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Integrating New Hens

Our two new hens seem to be enjoying their new surroundings here with us, and our other two hens are showing signs of getting used to the new girls being here.  They still don't seem to know to go inside at night time, so I've had to use a long stick to corral them into the wee house.  And there is still a lot of squawking in the mornings.  I think I will try to make the wee house a bit darker.
The other day we caught the new girls taking a dust bath and then Bizzy Lizzy our flighty hen went over and had a dust right beside them!  She is usually a pretty antisocial bird, so perhaps the netting fence that separated them gave her some confidence.

It has rained a lot lately, so with a bit of a dry spell I decided to open up the netted area and see how they get on mingling together in the garden.  We sprinkled lots of seeds and meal worms to keep them occupied.
Bizzy Lizzy was surprisingly unfussed by them but Rosie seemed to act a bit like a sheep dog, going up behind them and trying to divide them to get one alone to chase and peck, then circles back to chase the other one.  So we don't think they're quite ready to live together at the moment.

We have decided to call the larger of the new girls Queenie, now just to come up with one more name.