Howdy from West Texas!


8 Years
May 26, 2011
Howdy, y'all, and thanks so much for already making me feel welcome to this site.

I like structure, so I think I'll work through the suggested questions:

(1) Are you new to chickens / when did you first get chickens?

I got my first chicks last Wednesday (the 18th of May), but I've been dreaming about someday owning my own chickens since I was old enough to read the Edmund Scientific catalogue. There was a little 3-egg incubator for sale for classrooms and science projects, but it just never worked out (what with living in the middle of the city and all). I go to school in Alpine, Texas, and am moving to a place with a yard in June, so I'm thrilled to finally be able to have my own chickens!

(2) How many chickens do you have right now? (&) (3) What breeds do you have?

Right now, I have 7:
- 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte (pullets)
- 1 Polish (straight run)
- 1 Blue Cochin (pullet)
- 2 Easter Eggers (pullets - sold as Americaunas, but I get the impression this is sort of a catch-all for egger mutts, and I doubt they are pure pure-bred)
- 1 Barred Rock (pullet)

All are between 1 and 4 weeks old - the Cochin is the oldest, but they're a reasonably slow growing breed, so they are all in an incubator together. There's plenty of room to move in or out of the heat, though! Also, the pullets were sexed as day-olds, so I understand there is a 5-10% chance of error.

I had a second Polish who passed away this afternoon. I know that chickens are livestock and that with any chick purchase, you should expect a certain proportion of mortality, but it still hurt. It seemed to be some sort of trauma or spinal injury, as I found the little bugger ataxic and lethargic with his neck at an odd angle. From reading, I get the impression/terror that it could be Marek's, but he was only 2-3 weeks old. I didn't have the stomach to do a necropsy, especially as (a) it really did seem like a traumatic injury, and (b) if it was a contagious pathogen, a necropsy would just spread cooties around. I feel I should mention I studied Animal Science for a while at Sul Ross before switching to a Masters in Biology, but I'm still pre-med and hang out with the pre-vets all the time. I'm a major pathology geek, just relatively inexperienced with chicken pathology. There is a group of us at school that do necropsies on any and all livestock owned by the school, under the direction of the attending vet, but I've never done a chicken before. It can be tough to balance my maternal chicken-husbandry with my scientific curiosity, but if I get more mortalities, it may be necropsy time

(4) How did you find out about

When I noticed Ziggy was ADR, I googled as much as possible to see if there was any 1st aid available. He died anyways, but some of the things I've learned at this site may help prevent any future mortality. Fingers crossed!

(5) What are some of your other hobbies?

Well, I already mentioned I'm a pathology-obsessed pre-med. I thought I wanted to go to vet school for years, but I think I'd rather keep animals as my comforts and friends and focus on human medicine instead. As my dad likes to say, critters are far too important to take seriously. I'm a grad student in biology, though, so critters and school are basically my life these days.

(6) Tell us about your family, your other pets, your occupation, or anything else you'd like to share.

I'm a graduate student in Biology with plans to go on to medical school, next. I got my bachelor's in neuroscience (technically, in "Brain and Cognitive Sciences," but that just sounds pretentious) from MIT, which was all theoretical and not much hands-on; I'm loving that interacting with my critters is all hands-on. I have two kitties, a senior Siamese named Dorothy and a Russian Blue named Annie, but her typical nickname isn't something to be repeated in polite company! (Hint: profane and rhymes with Kitten, and describes her behavior perfectly well.) She likes to break everything! I figure if I can keep my chickens Annie-proof, they'll be safe from any 'coons or hawks. I also have a 20 gallon freshwater fish tank, and like to garden. (I'm *very* excited about having space for a compost heap, and having chicken labor to turn it for me!)

I teach the Zoology lab at my school, so I also have pets that live in my lab: several mice, a rat, a king snake named Beau, and part-time Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. I think it's fair to say I love critters of all sorts. Besides teaching, I'm working on a thesis in decomposition ecology with an emphasis on forensic applications (that is, I'm leaving dead feral hogs in a field and watching what happens).

I'm really excited to be a member of this community now! I'm going to go spend the next way-too-many hours reading old posts


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