Lost a hen tonight...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Rajandura, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Rajandura

    Rajandura Chirping

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    Im new to the chicken business. I was given a dozen eggs to hatch from a friend of mine. Using my wifes antiquated, but proven homemade incubator, i got 3 chicks to hatch. We were raising them to possibly keep, as ive always wanted backyard chickens. I live on 3 acres of rural land, some wooded, mostly grass. My neighbors, who had hens and who we had been getting our eggs from, decided to give me their 9 hens, coop, run, and everything. I set it all up after moving everything over here carefully. My initial concern was predators. I set up the coop and run to be predator proof. I encircled the coop with a chainlink dog run, sealed every crack, made sure it was impenetrable. Our 3 baby chicks were eventually moved to a brooder, and into a coop/run i built for them out of a repurposed kids playhouse and attached it to the existing hen run. That way the older birds would be exposed to the younger ones to help make introductuon easier. After a few weeks i made the transition. I was so scared to put the chicks in with the hens, but it all went well. And wouldnt you know it, our three chicks were all hens!
    Shortly after the intro, i lost my first older hen. I found her on the bottom of the coop one morning. I was heartbroken, as i really enjoyed this hen. I had just started free ranging them, keeping them within close distance to me and only for a brief moment at a time so that i knew they would come in when i wanted them too. She was a really pretty black, orphington i believe. I didnt notice any trauma, and chocked it up to old age.
    I eventually integrated my three baby hens with the big girls, and to my amazement, started using the nesting boxes on their own! My favorited girl, olive, was just beginning to lay. She was a spitfire. I thought for sure she was a rooster, because she would yell at me and come at me any time i tried to hang out with the 3 babies.
    I got myself 4 pekin duck hens from a neighbor, and slowly integrated them with my birds. I kept them enclosed, even though they were free range birds previously, and taught them where their food and shelter was. Olive didnt like them, she would spar with the much larger duck hens in a regular basis. Eventually, i couldnt keep the ducks contained anymore, and every morning they returned to be fed and watered. I also would let the 3 babies out of their coop when i checked on the ducks each morning, as they would be hoopin and hollerin in their coop if i didnt let them out when i was feeding the ducks. This was our routing.
    One morning i came home from work, and found my girl olive dead. She was attacked at some point, probably by a raccoon or bird of prey. I was devestated. How could i be so stupid to leave them out unattended and let this happen?
    I vowed to be better. I kept the chickens contained, unless i was home to observe them. The ducks, they did not want to be contained, so i left them free range. Nothing would bother them. We didnt have coyotes on our land, and they were big, vocal birds...nothing would mess with them.
    A few weeks after i lost olive, i came home one morning from work to find all of my duck hens gone. I found some feather piles in the woods, but no bodies or guts...just vanished. I failed again, i should have kept them in at night, but i didnt. I walked the woods and drove the properties around us for a month...never found a sign of my ducks.
    Later on that fall, i noticed one of my older rir hens holding her foot up alot. I also noticed feather loss. I attributed to molting, but it didnt get better. I looked better at her feet, and realized she had leg mites. I segregated her, and began treating her with vegetable oil and vaseline therapy, along with garlic/cider vinegar water. She stayed in a dog cage in my garage for a couple of weeks. She was doing good.
    I noticed one of my little buff orpington girls was acting kind of odd, lethargic, constantly sticking her head into her festhers, and not associating with the other girls. The other night, i caught her sleeping in a nesting box instead of on her perch where she always slept. I decided to bring her in and put her with my rir, who was doing much better. For a few days, she was eating good and drinking vitamin enriched water i had picked up packets of at our local feed store.
    This morning, i decided to reintroduce the rir to the flock. That didnt go well. Apparantely, the pecking order needed to be reestablished. I ended up secluding her off in the coop so that the other hens could reacclimate to her.
    I went to check on my orpington later tonight, and she was dead in the cage. I took her out and looked her over. I had failed to notice that she was covered in mites. Had i paid closer attention to her, i would have been able to save her, but she must have been ill from the parasitic nature of the mites, and ended up passing.
    So, i checked one of my other birds tonight, one of the babies...and sure enough, she was loaded with mites too. So, now in the midst of winter, i will be taking on this challenge.
    Thanks for reading my experiences. Im having a hard time dealing with my losses, especially since they were all likely preventable. Hopefully, my experiences will help someone else starting out to not make the same mistakes i have.
    Ryan
     
  2. Notaneggspurt

    Notaneggspurt Songster

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    :hugs:hugs:hugs:hugs:hugs
     
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  3. Rajandura

    Rajandura Chirping

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    Thank you.
     
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  4. MissChick@dee

    [email protected] ~ Dreaming Of Springtime ~

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    So sorry for your loss. Good luck with the mites. We all learn... all of us. Keep your chin up. All you can do moving forward is do better than you did in the past.
    Best wishes
     
  5. The Phantom

    The Phantom I love birds!!!

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    :hit:hugs:hugs:hugs
     
  6. Rajandura

    Rajandura Chirping

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    Thank you. I try to take each loss as a lesson learned so that it wasnt in vain. I just wish i could go back to fix my mistakes before they happened.
     
  7. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

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    Ryan I am so sorry for your losses. I know sometimes it’s hard to deal with. It certainly takes the wind out of my sails to lose a bird.
    You are good to come and share here so ther people can learn. That’s what BYC is all about. It’s a collaborative community.
    Here’s a good thread for reading through. The people on it give good and proven advice.
    Tomorrow will be a better day for you I hope.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/treating-flock-for-lice-mites.1247908/#post-20020412
     
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  8. Notaneggspurt

    Notaneggspurt Songster

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    Thank you for sharing your experience. I'd really like to hear how things go. And when you are feeling up to it hearing more about your flock.
     
  9. Kris5902

    Kris5902 Songster

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    So sorry for your losses. :hugs Treat everyone and your coop itself for the mites! Blow those little vampiric predators away with the best chemicals you can get your hands on. It can’t bring your lost girls back, but it can prevent the others from suffering.

    Best wishes for you and your flock :hugs
     
    staceyj likes this.
  10. Saaniya

    Saaniya Crowing

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    Oh this is so sad sorry for ur loss:hugs
     
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