Hi All

Steve Ramsey

In the Brooder
Jul 14, 2016
Hi My name is Steve Ramsey and I live in Northern Ireland. We currently own 10 hens and one rooster. We have had quite a journey with our hens both up and down. We started by rescuing 6 then the number went up to 10. We lost some to, what to us was an unknown ailment and I was told to put on a rubber glove and check their eggs hadn't got stuck to make them egg bound so the next time one went down I tried as I might to do this and no egg stuck so I was stuck. Any ways, we got another four hens bringing us up to 10 again. We then bought a drake and two ducks and whilst there, found (who we call) Major. A giant of a rooster that was given to us free. Due to the fact that he had been laid and born with his sibling sisters so no mating for him. He came home with us with our ducks and, has protected the hens from any predators around. We then tragically lost the 3 ducks to a fox that took one and injured the remaining 2 so badly I had to dispatch them.
We then started to lose more hens to the mystery ailment. They would keel over and just lay there almost motionless for around a day then lay still. Only moving when I picked them up. Felt really skinny, no meat on them at all and when I put them to bed they would be dead by the next morning. Still have no idea what was wrong with them as they had no egg inside the vent. Any ways, we got another couple and now we seem to have a regular flock with no injuries or ailments as yet.
A couple of the hens turned broody and sat on their eggs but two months later nothing had appeared chick wise so I lifted the eggs as I didn't want them going bad. I cracked them open to find one with a green sludge inside and one was completely empty, just a hollow shell. The rest were just ordinary eggs, no blood spots or any thing inside them.
We have a laugh at them when I get home from work. If they aren't waiting at the gate, they all come running and are around my feet before I can get in and close it. Feeding time is a feeder full to the top of pellets that lasts up to 3 days so a bag costs me £7'50 from my supplier and lasts around two weeks. Our eggs come in batches of 6 to 9 and every third day we get a huge egg that is twice the size of the others. Lots of double yolkers.
Well that's my story of how we became chicken keepers.


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 21, 2011
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

I am so sorry for your losses. Keeping chickens has a huge learning curve and it is never possible to know it all really. Sounds like you may have had Mareks running through your flock if they were paralyzed for a few days and then passing on. Mareks is a virus that attacks the nervous system causing paralysis. It progressively gets worse and worse. Once it strikes the flock, few of them survive. You might do best to start out with chicks or chickens that have been vaccinated for Mareks in the future. It is very difficult to remove it from your environment once it takes hold.

Yes, they sure do bond with you, don't they? My flock comes running when ever they see me or even get upset when I don't show up on time with their goodie plate. Ha!

Make yourself at home here and ask any questions you may have. We do have an emergency section you can ask questions in should you have another sick bird. Lots of helpful members there to help with ailments.

Great to have you aboard and welcome to our flock! :)

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