Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Olga Update

Olga is one resilient bird.  She has been through an attack twice now.  But, with a little care she's doing well and was very happy when I returned her to the coop.  I kept a close eye on her and how the others responded to her.  No one pecked at her injuries.  She did have a lot to say to the others when I put her back with the other hens.

Spring is here and I give them a little time nearly each night to go around the yard.  They sure enjoy it.  I noticed last night that she has new tail feathers starting to come out.  That made me very happy.

 Olga follows everyone around the yard acting like nothing happened.  You can see the new feathers starting to emerge.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Olga's Injuries - Update

As I explained in my previous post.  Our old Polish hen, Olga, was snatched up in the mouth of a neighborhood dog.  Luckily, my family was to the rescue, retrieved her and scared the dog away.  My wife had me run home from work to assess the damage.  This event reminds me of something everyone should know if they have pet chickens and let them periodically roam free; First, know what potential risks or predators are in your area.  Second, keep an eye on them.  I have heard an eagle or hawk fly by and screech and have seen the girls go to a state of alarm and run for our lilac bushes where they feel protected.  If you have an open area for your chickens to free range, it wouldn't take much for a bird of prey to snatch one.

Back to Olga.  She recovered Saturday, Sunday and Monday in a pen in my garage separated from the other hens while I watched her.  I kept the Wound-Kote nearby and would spray her injury each day to keep it protected.  She seemed alert and not too effected by the event.  Monday night, I decided to try putting her back in the run with the others and see if they remembered her, if she acted healthy and if she was able to get up to the roost that night.

As soon as I put her down, she immediately walked all around the run.  She checked out the feeder, she made sure there was water, she scratched, she greeted each hen.  She was home again.  It was interesting to watch her temperament change.  Once she reviewed everything and knew she was home, she began talking...it was a series of very happy clucks that I have gotten to recognize out of her when things were good.  She had a lot to say (she normally doesn't talk much) but she went on and on to her coop-mates, I'm sure telling them all about her adventure...ok, that is stretching it.  I try not to put human characteristics on animals, but sometimes it just happens.

Olga stretching her wings, happy to be back in the run.

Later that night, after dark, I wandered out to the hen house to make sure she was able to roost.  Frankly, I would have been just fine with her sleeping in a nest box until she healed (but I wont tell her that).  I was very happy to see her on the roost.  Not only comfortably resting on the roost, but she was in between Rosie (who is the mother hen and watches out for each hen's welfare) and Henrietta our leghorn. Now the significance of that to me is the fact that when these hens roam our yard, Henrietta and Olga are always together.  There is some connection, bond or friendship between them- I know, there I go again with the human characteristics.

Honestly, the social dynamics of chicken relationships is quite fascinating.  Watching their interactions with each other and with myself is very interesting.  I generally know who hangs out with whom and when I come out to the run, who will great me verbally, and who will crouch and wait for me to pick her up.

Well, the challenge for me now is just to monitor Olga's injury for healing and infection but I have high hopes.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chicken Injuries

*WARNING*  This post has somewhat graphic pictures of injuries to my pet chicken.

It's not that Olga is unlucky, but the nature of Polish chicken's head feathers makes it difficult for them to see what is going on around them.  They can be skittish because they don't see things until they are right on them.

This was Olga's second encounter with a dog.  The two encounters were many years apart and not even by the same dog.  Earlier today, I was on the phone with my wife and I hear kids scream, a dog bark and she said "you need to come home, now!"  I run home to find Olga in my wife's arms with most of her tail feathers missing and a sizable bite on her back above the vent.

Ok, time for the pictures...

The injury appears small, until you move the feathers aside.

Moving the feathers aside you can see the wound more clearly
 The first thing I did was to isolate her to protect her from the potential pecking of the other hens.  I picked up a product called Wound Kote (I had read about Blue Kote but it wasn't available to me locally).  I will explain more about that product a little bit later. 

I prepared some warm soapy water and wash cloth to wash out her wound and began cleaning it good as I could.  I found she was more comfortable if I held her head under my arm.  She felt more protected and it was a lot easier to see and work on her hind end.
I read it is a good idea to wear gloves because the medicine spray is sticky and hard to remove.

The injury was mostly on her back but some small cuts under her tail above her vent

Wound-Kote is a anti-septic product that cleans the wound and helps to seal it and prevent infection.  I had read about Blue-Kote but it wasn't available.  I don't know about how they compare but I will write later about how well she heals up.

 Here is how the wound looks after spraying it with Wound-Kote.  She was very calm during this whole process.  With the amount of alcohol in it I expected some kind of reaction.  I read about one guy who tried spraying the stuff on a cut of his own.  He said it burned like nothing he felt before!

 Tonight Olga is resting comfortably in her own private room in the garage.  I will keep her separated as she recovers.

These kind of injuries happen.  Unfortunately.  She was in my back yard and the dog came into my yard.  Same thing happened the first time with her.  My yard is fenced with the exception of one part that I need to put a gate on.  As chicken owners, I think we will always be somewhat down the list compared to dog or cat owners.  It may not be fair, but if we want to have chickens and want to have our communities recognize them as pets, I think it is something that we have to accept...for now.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Miniature Eggs

In the 5 or 6 years I have had chickens, I have only received two of these eggs so far.  As I read about miniatrue eggs being laid by standard sized hens, I found it is actually pretty common.  Usually laid by hens who are just starting to lay, mine have been laid by hens who are no longer considered "pullets" (over 1 year old).  Maybe this happened because they are coming out of molt and some haven't laid for a long time.

Miniature egg

Comparing size to eggs laid by other hens recently
One of these things is not like the others...

Last year when I got one of these I was very curious what was inside.  I cracked it open and instead of being a small yolk and egg white, it was egg white only.  I have read that people call these miniature eggs "fart eggs", "fairy eggs", or "wind eggs".