Sunday, March 29, 2015

Naughty Birds

I had some chickens get into some mischief this week. I went out to put them to bed and found their giant bag of mealworms on the ground, torn open, and completely gone! They must have figured out that their yummy treats were in that bag and tore it open! $20 worth of mealworms were gone in a matter of minutes...Silly birds.

Expecting a treat...
I love all the pretty colors!

I had been contemplating buying them some live crickets from a bug dealer online. They would LOVE that! Crickets aren't even that expensive but you'd have to keep them in a safe place and to feed them to keep them alive. I'm not so sure I want a bag of 500 crickets in my house...Yea, no!

The chickens also figured out that I stored food in bags and the turds tore the bag open and helped themselves to their food. They are much smarter than I thought they were! I will likely move one of our garbage bins to the coop today to try and keep food lasting longer in there!

I ALMOST brought home 4 new birds yesterday but changed my mind as it got late. This week is the Poultry Seminar at Runnings and I plan to attend that. They will be having a sale on meat chickens and I want to snatch up a few of those to raise. How cool would it be to raise your own food? It's not going to be any cheaper than buying it in the store- it's actually more expensive. I think the birds only dress out to be about 5 pounds and after calculating the costs, it would cost over $12 a bird to raise, and that's just breaking even. I thought about raising them to sell them, but I don't think anyone would be remotely interested in paying $15 bucks a bird. That works out to around $3 per pound, which isn't actually that terrible of a price, but you can get boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.98 a pound at Sam's Club.

Getting big!

Steve stands weird but it's getting fixed with niacin supplements.

Just chilling in the garage.

Steve is still growing like a week. He has got to be at least a pound or two already. He is very tall, too. He can almost look over the brooder I have them in. He has a bit of a niacin deficiency going on, which can happen when you feel ducks baby chicken food. Waterfowl need more niacin and if they don't get enough, they will walk funny and can have joint problems. I bought some vitamins this week to mix in the water, and he seems to be walking better already. I also bought some niacin yesterday to add to the water. I'm told it shouldn't hurt the chicks, so hopefully that is correct.

The chicks are 5 weeks old and will be 6 weeks old on Thursday. Steve will be 5 weeks old on Thursday, too. The chicks are nearly 100% feathered and Steve is getting there. He is pretty fluffy with his baby fuzz. I took one heat lamp out of the brooder today. I am about to start prepping the small brooder for my meat chickens, so I will get that ready and hopefully clean out the coop today in hopes of moving the older babies to it next week or the week after. The weather needs to be consistently warmer in order for the babies to move to the coop.

One of my Rhode Island Red chickens came down with the sniffles this week, so she is up by the house recovering. I moved Sally back in with the rest of the birds yesterday. I'll be going out there shortly to see how she did over night. She got her little chicken butt beat up by the other sick birds when she joined them a week or so ago. My little RIR hen seems to be doing better. I have her in the kennel outside the house. I put some straw in her house and she was happily scratching through it when I last went out there. I'll likely put her back with the other chickens next week.
Sick Kennel

Little Red Hen scratching in her straw.

It was sunny and sort of warm despite the wind today, so I went and did some cleaning in my garden. I'm happy that chore is done. We'll need to burn all of the brush and weeds on a day when it is not so windy.

I need to find someone to bribe to clean out my chicken run. There's a ton of straw in it and it needs to be cleaned out, but that would be a ton of work. I'm lazy and don't want to do it, so if you know anyone who wants to earn some cash, let me know.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chicken Sickness

Well, it's been a week since we put Cecelia down already. Over this past week, I had to isolate two more birds. Snowball had rattly sounding breathing, so I pulled her into the sick wing. Snowball's breathing sounds much better today, so the antibiotics must be helping her. The other chickens seem like they are recovered, but I need to keep them separated so I don't get their eggs mixed up with the good eggs. Chickens on antibiotics lay eggs with antibiotic residue in them, and we don't want that in our food.

On Thursday, I also found Sally being lethargic, hiding in the nesting boxes with very rattly sounding breathing. I examined her a bit further and found that she has a bunch of fluid build up in her abdomen. Poor girl. She looks uncomfortable. She was pretty alert all week and has had a good appetite, though. Eric and I have been spoiling her with cottage cheese and she is SO HAPPY when we bring that to her. With the fluid build up, I've done some reading that I can just drain it, but you have to do it under sterile conditions. I could do this as I bought sterile needles/syringes, but I will just wait and see if she will reabsorb it. When chickens get water belly, it's not necessarily an immediate death sentence for them. She likely has heart failure or circulatory issues. After reading posts about other people's chickens, I'm feeling hopeful that she should make a decent recovery. She has been given 3 shots of antibiotic and she seems much better than what she was on Thursday and Friday. I plan to move her over to the sick wing at the coop tomorrow as long as she is still recovering. Her raspy breath went away and she is very alert and has quite the appetite.

Sally in the TLC Kennel

The baby birds got moved to the garage today because they are making the office so dusty. I picked up some new sawdust for them, cleaned out their brooder, and got them all set up in the garage. I took Steve outside again and he didn't appreciate the wind. The poor little guy was shivering and crawled on my lap to warm up. He walks a little funny and it makes me worry that he's getting too much to eat or something. He is growing so fast! He grew a ton over the weekend and he's not such a tiny baby anymore. The chicks are looking pretty shabby because they are getting their big chicken feathers in.

I plan on going to the poultry seminar at Runnings in a couple of weeks. It looks like it will have some good beginner information. Plus, I think they will have a sale on chickens that day. I want to get meat birds and raise them in the sick wing once I get the birds all better and the sick wing cleaned out. I'd love to have some fresh, tasty chicken for the freezer.

I got to spend the weekend away from home with my BFF Kim and it was great to get away. My handsome husband took care of all the birds and cleaned the house for me. I'm grateful that he did that for me. The birds are a lot of work right now with having so many sick ones and little babies to give special attention to. He's the best husband a girl could ask for.

I'm getting so antsy to get into the garden. I already have a list started of things that I want to plant. Eric has been busy in his garage working on his new tiller. He bought a tiller for the front of our old John Deere lawn mower and he's getting that all ready. We raked leaves out of the yard today and burned them in the garden. It was a nice day to be outside working.

We have a buyer for our house in Arkansas, so as long as that goes through successfully, we should be selling the house in April. That makes me motivated to do some home improvements. We need to build some front steps/deck for the house, complete the bathroom upstairs, reshingle the garage roof, add rain gutters on the house, and I would like to put up some flower beds in the front of the house so I can plant things without Jack digging them up. I want to start beautifying the house so we can increase our chances of selling it in the next couple of years. I've enlisted Kim and Mitch to help with the deck. I hope we can get it done in a weekend.

Steve and I outside enjoying the day!

Monday, March 9, 2015

RIP Cecelia

Cecelia was way worse today. I had been giving her .5 cc's of Tylan 50 once per day. This evening was her third dose, but she really sounded terrible today. She was swollen in both eyes and now had nasal and mouth mucous. She was making noise when she exhaled. She sounded horrible and so after consulting with other chicken folks online, I decided to put her out of her misery and killed her.

I put my new $5 hatchet to the test and thankfully, she went WAY easier and more quickly than Crispy did. It worked perfectly. I do need to invest in a cone though....I had to chase her flapping chicken body around the yard, almost to the neighbor's yard to pick her up. The neighbor's came home just as I was putting her in the garbage bag....awkward.

I suspect, based on her symptoms, she had infectious coryza, but I'm not a vet and I didn't test her so I don't know for sure. I just do a lot of reading and research.

Rest in peace, little Cecelia. Thank you for your tasty eggs and your company.

I think my little baby chick, Oscar, is about ready to go back with the others. I don't think he was ever sick. I will put him back tomorrow- I want to wait one more day just to make sure. He is peeping SO LOUD in the bathroom to protest. I went in there to check on him after work tonight and I SWEAR, he stared right at me as he stood on the edge of his water dish and he POOPED in it just to SPITE me!

I checked in on the other four babies and Steve seemed to grow like 2 inches overnight! He is growing like a weed! I love that little guy!

The birds in quarantine are doing pretty well. They are drinking their antibiotic water, and my hen laid an egg today, so she must be feeling fine. I am feeling hopeful that they will recover beautifully. :)

We had gorgeous weather today and the birds were outside enjoying the sunshine when I was home. They all looked so happy. They have a very muddy run though. I noticed that they have been dust bathing inside the coop in the straw, as evidenced by the circles on the floor. I can't wait until it dries up for them. I just hope the straw baths are enough for them to keep the mites away,

I've been getting lots of eggs lately and it's SO nice not having frozen eggs anymore. I even dropped the price of my eggs so I can entice more people to buy them. I had 6 dozen eggs sitting in my fridge on Sunday!

I can't wait for the mud to dry up so I can steal a few chickens to stir up my garden for me. I'm getting stir crazy for gardening lately too! Well, until next time.....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sick Chickens Day 2

I have a total of 6 chickens and 1 chick separated.

One of my chicks was acting weird last night- he was laying with his wings stretched out, he was panting and breathing fast. I took him out and put him in his own brooder. He doesn't seem to be panting anymore but is still laying weird every once in a while when I check on him. He seems to be alert and doing his own thing. Maybe he was hot, the brooder was at 90 degrees and that is warm for two week old chicks so I have the temp down to about 80-82 now. I had another chick that seemed to be acting "hot" so maybe that's what the issue was...they all seem fine. I still have the one separated to make sure everything is okay before putting him back.

Cecelia now has TWO swollen eyes. Poor girl. She's still very alert though. I feel bad for her. She's had a second dose of antibiotic. I put her outside because I can't stand the chicken smell inside the house. It is such a nice day outside today, and I'm sure she's more comfortable outside where the temp is more of what she's used to.

I have 4 of my new chickens and one of my other Barred Rocks quarantined as well for milder symptoms. One of the Easter Eggers is sneezing. They are all on liquid antibiotics. They aren't too happy about being cooped up by themselves either. They do have quite the cozy abode, so hopefully they will recover quickly.

Eric and I put up the extra fencing today. I hope that it will keep my flighty chickens in and that I don't lose anymore chickens. It actually was not too bad of a task. I have the best husband a girl could ask for. He helps with all the little chicken projects that I have and he doesn't complain!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sick Birds!

I went about my business as usual today, letting out the birds and feeding them snacks when I noticed that one of my barred rocks had a huge swollen eye! Poor girl couldn't see out it at all. I immediately separated her from the rest of the flock and brought her in the house for some TLC. She also has a raspy breath too. She looks miserable. I hope she will pull through. I went back outside and saw that one of my Easter Eggers is sneezing and has nasal drainage, so I separated her. Three other birds were acting suspicious as well. I have another side to the coop that is closed off from the birds- that is where I put the sick birds in. I have to keep them separate for a while, even after they are better. Their eggs are no good for at least two weeks after stopping the antibiotics, so I have to throw away all of their eggs for that long. Bummer.

I have some powdered antibiotic, tetracycline, that I had bought when Crispy was sick that I have given to the birds. I hope that this will help knock this respiratory infection out before anyone dies. The chicken I brought in the house is in bad shape. I named her Cecelia and Eric went to Watertown to buy her a stronger, inject-able antibiotic. I gave her some scrambled eggs and have been keeping her comfortable for now. I flushed her eye out, but did not see any foreign objects in it. She definitely has some respiratory infection going on.

This is likely from not separating my new birds when I brought them home. They probably brought something from the farm they came from, so this is my fault. It is recommended that you always separate new birds for a minimum of three weeks to ensure that the new birds are healthy. That could be what happened, but I have been in contact with the lady I bought from and her birds are and have been healthy. Mine have been also. It could also have been the extreme temperature change as well. We had a -30 windchill a few days ago and today it was 40 degrees!

Her swollen eye

Cecelia enjoying some scrambled eggs
I have to treat the poor girl with shots of antibiotic for the next 5 days and hopefully she will be OK. Eric brought me home the Tylan 50 and needles tonight. We gave Cecelia her first dose and I am hoping for the best!

I went to put the birds to bed tonight and I have another one missing. That damn fence is going up TOMORROW! One of my brand new Black Copper Marans is gone, I am SO pissed! I barely had that bird a week and now she is probably laying out in the field somewhere because she was a dog toy. URGH! The fence isn't going to look pretty but it'll add some height so the birds will have a little harder time flying over it, I hate when my money gets wasted and that was a quickly wasted wad of cash on that bird. :(

My babies are growing like weeds! Steve is a little doll. I just love him. I bring him out to watch TV with me and he hangs out buried in my neck/shoulder, probably because it is nice and warm. I brought him out to swim a couple times now, but I think he's too little to be interested in water yet. He doesn't want anything to do with it. The chicks are starting to get their feathers and are in an in-between stage. They are just over two weeks old and get SO noisy if I try to pick them up. They don't appreciate being held. Steve doesn't seem to mind too much.

I was going to get a few more baby ducks to complete my flock but decided that I don't like raising babies so much, so I think I'll get 2-3 adult females and I'll call it good. I want them for their egg laying. I LOVE the duck eggs. They are much tastier than chicken eggs in my opinion. I'd like to raise ducks for meat, but there is no one around here that processes ducks, I have some poultry friends who are trying to work out the no-duck-processing solution and if they do, I might raise a few meat ducks in the future. For now, I'll stick with laying ducks.

Well, I guess I shall report back tomorrow or in a few days on how the sick flock is doing. I expect I'll lose a few but I sure hope not.