Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bert Update #4

Bert received a wonderful report from the vet.  His wound under his wing is almost completely healed.  She was just amazed at how much it healed. His tail area has a lot of black dead skin which may fall off on its own and he does seem to have a small nub of a preening gland still on his tail!

He got the go ahead to go in with the other chickens so when we got home I opened the electric fence and let everyone run around free.  Bert was sure happy to be back with the ladies and quickly got back to preforming his reproductive duties.  He tried real hard to catch Princess Diana, but she was not having anything to do with it and kept running away.  Joe stayed clear of Bert and only once when he was in Bert's way he got pecked. 

That night Bert went back to his coop for the night and everyone else went into the big coop. When I went to the big coop that night Joe and Princess Diana were both on the roost!  First time I didn't have to move them out of the next boxes.  Maybe I wont have to block them each night. Then on Saturday they were both on the roost again.

Saturday everyone stayed locked up cause it was so rainy.  Sunday about 2:00 the rain was done so I let everyone out to run around.  They all had a great day going all over the yard eating and scratching.  Joe finally figured out (from watching Bert) how to climb on top of the ladies, but every time he did Bert came in charging, knocked him off and chased him all over the place!  Joe still tried to do this a few times that I saw. 

That night when I went to check on everyone, Bert was on the roost in the big coop with everyone but Joe and Princess Diana were back in the nest boxes.  I grabbed Joe and put him on the roost.  He is usually perched on the edge of the nest box and easy to see, Diana sometimes is inside the nest box and hidden in the dark.  I reached in each nest box and came up empty!  Where was she? I looked under the roost and nothing there. Oh crap, I thought she got left outside somehow and is hiding someplace.  Then I thought maybe she went to her old coop in the Corn Crib Carport.  Sure enough she was in there all by herself!  I took her back to the big coop and now everyone is in one coop together.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bert Update #3

Bert is doing well.  After I moved Joe and Princess Diana, I cleaned out the chicken tractor so that I could move Bert in.  He is very happy to be able to sit on the roost and move around in the coop and run during the day.  When I first moved him out there he could hear all the commotion coming from the big coop and he was upset that he could not get over there to help them!

We continue to give him his antibiotic and spray his wounded areas with Vetericyn.  The cost to have his surgeries was much to high for us to pay.  I have been very adamant that I wanted to have him put down.  I didn't want to risk him getting an infection on the wound under his wing and suffering.  Its just exposed tissue under his wing.  His tail area has some pin feathers coming in.  And he does have some dead skin hanging from his tail area.  

Jim does not want to put him down if we don't have to, so he made a follow up appointment to see the vet on Friday.  We will see what she says.  If his back feathers come in and cover the tail area he may be able to go in with the rest of the flock.  I told Jim I will need to have the chicken tractor free when I get any replacement hens!

On Sunday when it was so nice out I let Bert out to run around the yard for the day.  He spent about an hour trying to get to the girls through the hardware cloth around the bottom of the coop.  Then he was by the electric fence and got zapped!  He doesn't go near that anymore! He walked around the yard eating grass and seemed to enjoy the freedom.  He still kept an eye on the other chickens occasionally.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Coop Update

Two weeks ago I put Joe and Princess Diana in the big coop with the three older girls.  I moved them on a Friday night so when they woke up they would just be there.  Moving them at night they can't see in the dark well and will just sit on the roost until it gets lighter out.
Well I didn't think about the automatic door opening in the morning, so when I got up early to feed the dogs and looked outside, I saw Joe and Princess Diana outside in the fenced in area.  When I walked over to the coop I discovered Princess Diana was actually on the other side of the fence!  She flew over the fence but was staying close to Joe.  I was able to catch her and put her back. 
Later when I looked out to check on them, the older girls were outside too, and they were chasing after Joe and Princess Diana.  Joe was trying to crawl through the electric fence to get away from them!  I decided this was not going to work, there was no way Joe and Princess Diana were going to go back in the coop at night.  They needed to be lock in to work it all out.
I gathered everyone into the coop and closed them in!  Boy oh boy! They made so much noise you would have thought they were tearing the walls down! 
I went to check on them a couple hours later.  Princess Diana was hiding in one of the nest boxes and I could not see Joe anywhere.  I asked the older girls if they ate him!  A while ago I had a problem with the girls laying eggs in the corner of the coop so I wedged a cardboard box in the corner between the wall and the roost to keep them from laying eggs there. They had since pecked and ripped the box up a bit and sure enough Joe was hiding inside it!  Queen Ann was even sticking her head inside to peck at him.  So I took the box away.  Poor Joe, he ran to corner and stood there, If he can't see them, they can't see him! Wrong!  Queen Ann and Lucille were giving the new ones a very hard time, but that is way it is!
A little later I went in the coop and picked up Queen Ann and Lucille and held them for a good 30 minutes to let the young ones have a slight break to get some food and water.  I also hung a cabbage in the coop to distract the older girls a bit.
Now I don't want you to think that sweet Laverne was innocent during this time.  She was staying out of Queen Ann and Lucille's way, cause she is used to being low girl in the pecking order.  But when I was holding the two girls, Laverne was getting her pecks in to let them know she was higher in the pecking order than they are!  But at least she didn't go out of her way to chase them around.

Every night I have to go out and move Joe and Princess Diana off of the nest boxes and onto the roost.  After two weeks you would think that they would figure this out.  I'm thinking of blocking off the nest boxes a little before dusk, but then I would have to go in and remove them in the morning. I don't know if that would force them to get on the roost at night or if they would just huddle on the ground.
Joe does not stand facing the corners anymore and Princess Diana does not hide in the nest box, too much.  In fact Joe has gone back to attacking me, like a bad rooster! I have to keep my eye on him all the time. Queen Ann still will go out of her way to peck at them but she is top girl so she will always let them know this.

After two weeks of being closed up together, I opened the chicken door to let them out in the fenced in area.  They all enjoyed being outside and everyone was in the coop at night. Still not on the roost of course but at least in the coop!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bert Update #2

Bert had a visit with the vet.  This was a follow up after going to the emergency clinic.  We saw Dr. Ritzman at the Cascade Animal Hospital.  This is the same clinic we take our dogs and cat.  Since we we are existing client our visit was free, being that it was a follow up from going to the emergency clinic.

Dr. Ritzman said Bert looked very good, considering.  He has one large open wound under his left wing where the skin is not covering the muscle.  She said chicken skin is very elastic and the area is so large that it might be too difficult to put the ends together, or use good skin in the surrounding area to help repair it.  We may have to get some kind of patch to use instead. He also has dead tissue around his tail area that would need to be removed.

He won't be able to grow any tail feathers and his preening gland is destroyed. She wants to extend his antibiotic out another week and depending on what we decide to do about the surgeries he may be on it longer.  But overall he is doing very well.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bert Update #1

Well we made it through the night.  He was so alert I was not too concerned but the vet did tell us that when birds decline, they go fast.
Bert crowed at 6:30 this morning!  It didn't wake me up because I did not sleep on bit last night.  Even after taking two advil with sleep aide!  I went downstairs and checked on Bert a few times during the night and he was lying quietly resting. 
Surprisingly it was fairly easy to give him his medicine.  Jim holds him steady on the counter and I open his beak and slowly shoot it down his throat using a syringe. 
comparison photo
 I had Bert walk around the house a little this morning to get some exercise.  In the photo you can see he has no more tail feathers compared to a photo taken this past fall.  I thought I would spare him the indignity of showing his naked bloody rear!  
We have a follow up appointment with a vet at our normal veterinary clinic, Cascade Hospital for Animals.  They have an avian specialist.  
Bert was eating a little last night and I did see evidence that he at least splashed some water.  So I'm assuming he drank some.  I made everyone some scrambled eggs with mealworms and some fresh blueberries this  morning.  I want to make sure Bert gets extra protein for his body to start growing feathers.  I sat him on my lap and tried to get him to eat it.  He eat a couple blueberries.  I figure now is a good time to get him used to being held.  So I'll start with him sitting on my lap and getting treats!
I'm at least happy that Bert seems to be doing well.  Still very sad about the girls we lost.  I'll keep you posted on Bert's progress.
Doesn't that look yummy!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dog Attack

Sad Day
It started out a normal Saturday.  I went out in the morning and opened up the chicken tractor so the younger chickens could run around.  I even collected an egg from the older group.  Jim and I had our coffee, I looked outside a few times and everything was fine.  I was just about to step in the shower and Jim was going outside to start the car before he went to Grand Rapids for his normal Saturday errands.  
Jim called out to me that I need to come check my chickens because they were out in the yard.  I started to tell him they were fine because I had let them out this morning, but when I got to the kitchen window I saw Bert on the ground in front of the coop, outside of the electric fence.  He was just laying on the ground.  The first thing I thought was an hawk had attacked and found him to heavy to carry off and dropped him.  The second thing I realized was that I was naked and could not just run out the door!  I threw on some clothes and went outside.  Jim was behind me with one of our dogs, Chip, and they were headed to the garage. 
As I walked up to Bert I did see that he was alive but he had lost all his feathers in his back and rear area and was very bloody.  He did not move, just sat on the ground.  Then I noticed a large brown dog came around the back of the Corn Crib Carport and stood at the back of the chicken coop.  I yelled at Jim to pick Chip up before he noticed the dog and ran after him.  Then I yelled at Jim to go get his gun.
Jim went to get his gun, the dog ran away along the back field headed east.  I then noticed Yolanda lying in front of the Corn Crib Carport.  She was dead.  I then went into the Carport and heard clucking.  I found Joe behind some boards, He was uninjured.  There were a ton of feathers all over the ground everywhere.  I heard some more clucking and I found Princess Diana at the other end of the Corn Crib Carport.  She too was uninjured. 
Meanwhile Jim had come back out with his gun and cell phone and was trying to get Animal Control to come out.  The dog was gone.  I went to try to find Lillian, she was lying between the carport and the small barn.  She was dead too.
Jim was in the garage talking to the police about getting a hold of Animal Control and I heard a dog bark.  The dog was back, it was in the lot on the east of us.  It was barking at me.  I went into the garage to tell Jim that it was back, when I look back out in the lot the dog was closer, but it just stood there barking at me.  You could tell it kept looking over at the barn wanting to go back and continue his fun he had chasing and killing the chickens.  
Animal Control called us and told us she would be there in 5 to 10 minutes.  I took Bert into the house and put him in a box that was in the mudroom.  I wanted to get him out of the cold and in something he could be transported in.  
Animal Control came but was unable to catch the dog he kept running away.  She said she was going to drive and try to follow it then she would be back to take some pictures.  We told her we had to leave because we were taking Bert to the emergency animal hospital in Grand Rapids.  I told her that I put the dead chickens in the carport on the bench.  
 We drove Bert to Grand Rapids.  I called ahead and told them we were bringing him in.  There was not too much they could do for him.  They gave him oxygen to help him calm down.  He has open wounds and there may be an area by his wing that is missing flesh.  He also has puncture that we don't really know how deep it is.  They gave him shots for pain and antibiotics.  They sent us home with liquid oral meds for pain and antibiotic.  My first thought was "how the hell are you supposed to force liquid down a chicken's throat!" 
 It was a very long day.  Trying to figure out what happened, all I can guess is that when the dog attacked the younger group, Bert heard the commotion and flew over the electric fence to try to help protect the chickens.  I remembered when the opossum got in the chicken tractor, it was Bert in the other coop making all the noise, probably because he heard the others in distress.  What a good boy he is. 

We did find out that the dog came from down the road.  I guess an eight year old child was home alone and let the dog out.  They usually keep it penned in.  They will be fined for the dog being loose and not having any tags on it.  I'll have to sue for any other damages.  I'm not sure if we can have the dog destroyed, I'm not sure if we get a say in that. Jim will talk again to the Animal Control officer and get more details.

Of course when Jim took me to TSC to get some things for Bert, they had the baby chicks there!  I know this is part of farm life, but its still hard and sad.  Those two girls were so sweet.  Yolanda was very skittish, that was a characteristic of her breed, but she was getting less shy when I came with treats.  And Lillian really started perking up after Jim and I trimmed her crest.  She would greet me at the door and follow me out in the yard.  I really think she appreciated being able to see so much better!  I will miss them terribly.  I was really looking forward to seeing more of their personalities develop. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Queen Ann's First Egg

So excited to get my first blue egg!  Queen Ann was in one of the nest boxes this morning,  Lucille was in another one.  I thought maybe Queen Ann was just eating the died herbs that I sprinkle in there.  But later when I checked there was the blue egg!
And now I know that Lucille has been laying the other eggs I've collected.  Her eggs are just brown.  It will be interesting to see if when Laverne starts laying they have the speckles, like the eggs from last year!