Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Updates on My Flock Changes

Well, this summer we finally lost Olga.  She died peacefully of old age.  The weeks prior to her death I would have to get her out of bed in the morning and put her to bed at night.  She spent her days resting in the sun.  We had her over 10 years and she was full grown when we got her.  She was always skittish but the last couple weeks of her life she didn't have the energy or alertness to protest.  We enjoyed taking care of her to the end.

Nate and Olga

So that brought us down to two older hens, who lay very few eggs.  I have been looking forward to getting chicks in the spring and starting over.  I decided to ride out the winter with Sam and Broody looking forward to a fresh start...THEN my brother called. 

Mid November I got a call from my brother.  He was down to two old hens and one passed away.  Neither of us liked the idea of his remaining hen spending the winter alone so I chose to adopt her.  I brought her home and went through the steps (albeit quickly) of quarantining her then keeping her seperated but visible to the existing two hens and then incorporating her at night.  Well, my assumption would be the pecking order would place her at the bottom being the foriegner and being the minority.  That has NOT been the case.  Cocoa (as my wife has named her) keeps the existing girls corralled in the hen house and she stands watch to make sure they do not leave their roosts.  Now, granted, I am not out there all day watching them but that is what I see whenever I check on them.  So I make sure to break them up, make sure that Sam and Broody get some food and water and even force them outside to play (we just got our first snow so they weren't to keen on that).

I realize this takes time, the aggression stage has passed.  There were only pecks and small scabs on combs so no real injuries have taken place.  I am not sure how long this stage will last but we are all ready for it to be over.

The chicken coop is wrapped and ready for the cold weather to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

And Then There Were Three...

I have lost one of my oldest hens.  Red has beat many odds over her life.  She was prone to prolapse.  Twice I had to reinsert her insides and despite what many say she recovered.  She never laid eggs again but that is ok.  That was several years ago.  I came home today to find that she had prolapsed and found a place under some shady plants and passed on.  She was never a lap chicken but she had her place.  I think my polish hen Olga may miss her.  They always roosted together and I think Red kind of took care of Olga.  We will miss her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Watching a Hen Grow Old

First, let me say, I haven't abandoned this blog, despite it being so long since I have posted.  I post a lot of trivial chicken related stuff to the BrighamCityChickens Facebook page simply out of convenience.

Now, on to the subject at hand...Watching a hen grow old.

I know chickens are susceptible to many diseases or predetors and sometimes it seems we can't do enough to protect them and they die of lets say, less than desirable causes.

Currently, Olga who is my polish hen and has been with us since this adventure started, is showing her age.  I think I first got chickens in 2007 and she was full grown then, I have no idea how old she was when I picked her out from a farm where she lived.

She has been slowing down for the passed year or so.  She is often the first one to bed and the last one up in the morning.  She is getting slower around the yard and I can tell her bones and joints hurt at times.  I will see here walking and pause and stretch out each leg.  Let me assure you, I don't think she is in any severe pain more than the pains any of us go through as we age. She has been quite a resilient hen.  She has been through a couple of dog bites when dogs got in to our back yard, but she has always healed up and come back stronger.

In past weeks I've noticed that she can't make it up to the roosts at night so she'll sleep in one of the nest boxes.  For a younger bird, that is not allowed.  Considering her age, I have no problem with that.  The past week or so, she is struggling to make it into the hen house or into a nest at night.  So when the other girls go to bed I pick her up and place her in a nest.  Every morning I walk out and am sure that I will find she had passed during the night.  Not yet.  Each morning, she is perky and talkative, but still quite slow.

I feel that I'm doing all I can to make her last days comfortable and don't feel she is suffering.  It is interesting to see the other hens keep an eye on her.  They are often concerned when I pick her up (she has always been flighty and never a lap chicken).  She has always roosted next to Red and I wonder if she will be missed by the others when she is gone, I know she'll be missed by us.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Broody Hen

I always knew this day was coming, I just didn't know when.  Well, this week, one of my Buff Orpingtons decided that she wants to be a mom.  I don't know how much she decided and how much her hormones were in the right place at the right time and decided for her.  Well, when a hen decides she wants to be a mom her behavior changes dramatically.  The first thing you notice is she seldom leaves the nest. 
Feathers down and relaxed

She may sit on eggs laid by another hen or try to keep other hens from laying.  Another thing you may notice if you go to pick her up is that she doesn't want to be picked up.  She will raise her feathers and may act aggressive or make very interesting noises.

Raised feathers when I go to remove her
When you do pick her up, her breast may feel bare.  When hens go broody they will pluck feathers from their breast to provide a more direct heat source to the eggs.

There are two main thoughts on how to break a hen from being broody.  First, let nature take it's course.  You would do this by finding someone who has fertilized eggs, place them under her and let her hatch them.  I am at my limit of chickens and can not have more so this is not an option.  If you choose this option, incubation is a 21 day process.

The second method is to keep them away from the nest.  This is easier said than done.  I have read many people who use a wire poultry or rabbit pen or dog crate to seperate the hen from her nest.  Thinking that this process may take a week or so I felt like the pens I had were too small.  I chose to seperater her from the nest but place her next to our existing run so she can have a little more space and still see her friends.So, I just had to enclose two sides and top to give her a temporary run of her own.

a run of her own

I did this yesterday and she was not happy about it.  The other hens were foraging in the back yard and she found a way out of her new enclosure that I had not noticed and within an hour was out and back on her nest in the hen house.

Later yesterday evening, I sealed up the escape route and today at lunch, placed her back.  One thing to keep in mind when you seperate the hen, make sure she's protected from predators and has a good supply of food and water.

I'll let you know how long it takes for her to snap out of it.  I have read posts of people who said it was a matter of hours to others saying it took days to a week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Backyard Chickens in Perry?

If you're like me, you probably thought that Perry Utah already allowed backyard chickens.  Because of it's rural nature and agricultural heritage, I made that assumption.  That is until Matt Firth, Perry resident and backyard chicken enthusiast contacted me.  Matt has met with the Perry City Planning Commission and is working on making Perry a chicken friendly place to live.

Matt put together a fantastic presentation full of information to educate the planning commission and city counsel as well as people who may be interested in raising their own chickens.

Because of the width of the embeded PDF and the constraint on the blog width, I recommend that you click the down arrow to download the document and view it full screen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Aging Chickens

As far as chicken's lives go, I think mine have it pretty good.  Very slim chance of preditors, food, water, I am sure they would enjoy more free ranging than they get, but they get let out each afternoon, earlier on weekends and spend the time around the yard looking for things to eat and sitting in the shade or sun.

One of my oldest hens is my Polish.  I was quite surprised to have her laying so well this spring.  Polish hens aren't known for being prolific layers but getting 2-3 eggs per week made me happy.  She has slowed down as the weather has gotten warmer.

It has been interesting to see her resting in the yard and reminds me of old ladys you see that fall asleep in their chair while life moves on around them.  One moment, her head is up and she is looking around.

And the next moment, she has drifted off to sleep resting her head on the ground.

I don't know how long she'll live.  She was grown when I got her and we've had her since I started this chicken-keeping endeavor many years ago.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Farewell to Henrietta

Last Monday morning, I found Henrietta had passed away.  Her symptoms started as lack of balance. She walked like she was drunk.  She still had plenty of energy and the rest of per personality was normal.  I saw no other symptoms.  No runny nose, sneezing or irregular droopings.  The last week she began being listless and her comb became quite dark.  I separated her from the other girls and gave her food and water with antibiotic in it but she passed within two days.

Hen was a white leghorn.  She was flighty and didn't like to be held but would still eat from my hand.  She was a prolific layer as other leghorns are.  We had her for many years.  Because of the personality, I am not sure I would get another leghorn.  There are others I would like to have.

Henrietta would often jump up on the railing to our back stairs when she would hear us in the kitchen hoping to see what was going on inside.