Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poor little chicken

More peaceful days - their first exposure to watermelon. This is Bruno, Maple and the red in the back is Seven.

Once a week we move our chicken coop so that the chicks get fresh grass and so that we don't kill the grass it's sitting on. It used to be that once a week was often enough, but now that they are getting bigger (read: eating more and poo-ing more), we have to start moving it more often. Last night was moving night. I called home as I left work and my H said that he'd already put the chicks into the big dog crate in prep for the coop move. I said that was fine and that I'd be home in half an hour.

I get home, change my clothes and shoes, and we go out to move the coop. While H was looking for the moving strap, I check out the birds in the crate. One of the Rhode Island Reds was bleeding! This is the little red who spends most of her time in the coop while the other birds are out in the run (I named her Seven). I know she's the bottom of the pecking order, but I didn't realize how severe it was. While I was standing there, each of the other three red's took turns pulling out her tail feathers! She had a gross, bloody stump where her tail used to be and they were just making it worse. We immedately got her out of there and let her roam in the grass. Then one of the reds started going after some of the Ameraucans! We pulled her out as well while we got the coop moved.

We found a nice spot for it, set up the feeder and the water and let the chickens go back in. Then we rounded up the free chickens (Bonny had taken the oportunity to get a little freedom too) and put them in the coop. We decided that poor little Seven (the one with the bloody tail) needed space to heal. We set up the smaller dog crate with a waterer and feeder from their brooder days and filled it with wood shavings. H fashioned a perch and we put Seven in there for a few days. I really hope she heals up ok. She doesn't seem too upset by it...but it looks nasty and painful. We also did a little research on the chickens breeds and sure enough, this is an issue with Rhode Island Reds. Lovely. Solutions are to clip their beaks at an early age (too late!) and to give the birds lots of free-range time. We can't let them free range when we aren't home, so that only leaves weekends. We are going to see if there is any way we can give them more space to roam even when we are not home.

I also did some calcuations and realized that my original guess that we'll start seeing eggs by Thanksgiving was wrong. It looks like 20 weeks puts us at the 2nd week in December. So, if we see any eggs by Christmas, I'll be pleased. That is also the time of year with the least daylight, so laying naturally slows anyway. Hopefully by next January, we should be getting a good flow of eggs. That is, of course, assuming that all the chickens survive until then!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel so badly about seven! Please try to keep her safe and Bonny too.I guess there is never a dull moment on the Cat & H farmstead! I guess when winter comes things will slow down a bit. No more fruit harvesting or planting. Time to learn spinning and weaving.........