New chickens and long story - feedback please.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lengel, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2008
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    Hi,

    I'm new here and this is kind of a long story.

    A year ago, we bought four adult Rhode Island Reds from a local farm. We have a coop and a large fenced yard around a big maple tree. They were fantastic producers, came when I called and healthy as can be. Just before the really cold weather, we bought two more from the same farm. They had integration issues but we had separate housing for them so it wasn't a problem. We set up heat lamps and daylight bulbs and were set for the winter.

    Then we had a crisis. Someone two miles away adopted a huge lab mix "problem" dog along with his brother. The dog took off one day, cruised around for about ten miles based on the reports to animal control, ended up at our house and slammed into the fence so violently that he tore out a post then ran over the wire to get to our chickens. He killed the two newbies. The others made it into the coop and were fine. My husband ran out and grabbed the dog.

    New owners gave a sob story about the dog, acknowledged that they couldn't handle it and agreed to rehome him. I used to work with a rescue and was very sad about the death of my hens but wanted to give them a chance to take care of the problem. And, you guessed it, five months later, the dog came back, chewed through the wire fasteners and killed two more chickens. Another was in such a state of shock that she died two days later. The last, most dominant, was hurt but superficially. After four days in the coop, she was OK.

    We told the animal control officer to throw the book at the dog owners (the woman told us that rehoming had never been discussed and we should be prepared for him to come back because he was a "chicken dog" - she actually wanted to make arrangements for when he came back to kill more chickens).

    We bought a new fence system which I call Fort Knox for chickens and called the farm to see if they were wiling to sell us eight more adult chickens. They only had what they described as "older" chickens. Brought them home and released them. Our remaining resident chicken immediately laid down the law and everyone found their place in the system. No pecking, everyone has adequate shelter and in the last week the new guys have clearly gained weight and are happy as clams, scratching around and eating bugs.

    Here's the problem: they look terrible! When I released them from their crates, I was horrified. They all have huge bald patches, mostly on their necks and chests. One has a huge bald bright red spot on her lower abdomen. Half are missing significant feathers on their heads. We named them all Gerry (as in geriatric). I was certain they were on death's door.

    After a week, a little better. Three of them are starting to look a bit more like the chickens we used to have. The one that was frighteningly scrawny is much closer to blending with the others in terms of her weight. Someone told me that they were moulting but geez! Our guys never lost *that* many feathers. In fact, I barely noticed our guys moulting. It was more like, hey, there are feathers on the ground but that was pretty much it.

    What happened to them?? Were they in really crowded conditions and essentially pecked to no end? They are laying three eggs a day for eight chickens which is actually really productive given their change of environment. We're actually getting four eggs a day but I'm assuming that one is from our original chicken.

    I can't very well call the farm and say "hey, did you lock these guys up in really close quarters just because they were older just to see if you could get some eggs out of them before their companions killed them?" but I'm hoping that I can ask you guys here. Is that what happens when chickens aren't so productive any more?

    Should I do anything more for these guys? I work at home and they're visible from my home office window so I know that they're not going after each other. Do I just let them adjust? One of them is already starting to get attitude with me which I think is great. If she wants that spot, she can have it as far as I'm concerned. And former Ms Scrawny follows me everywhere when I'm in the enclosure instead of running away.

    I'll stop babbling now. Thanks for any input.
     
  2. snowydiamonds

    snowydiamonds Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm sure you and they are thankful you now have each other's company to enjoy...and that since they are laying that many eggs with a move and supposedly molting, you shall have even more eggs as they feel even better about living in their new piece of heaven:) I'd leave it alone unless you want to offer to take all or any "old" hens off their hands...? Who knows what others think "old" means, right? And keep an eye out for that dog! A dog like that, so determined, might be wise to buy a whip and begin practicing before he shows up;) Arm's length would definately be a lot longer than he's expecting and if you get good w/crackin it, you'd either catch him w/the whip or snap it so it stung, just the tip so he'd pay attention instead of ignoring all else (I'm a good aim with rocks, myself!)
     
  3. Double-T-Family-Farm

    Double-T-Family-Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my guess would eb that teh older hens were with a bunch of roosters.. teh feathers should grow back..
     
  4. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did they say how old these "older" chickens were? They may have just been in crowded conditions, perhaps with too many roosters. Often what people do is put all the culls in one pen to make slaughter day that much easier(than running different birds down in other coops). So what happens is, this particular pen gets too many birds and too many roosters in it, it doesn't matter to most people because these are the culls, probably due to be eaten soon. I could be wrong, I don't know the people you got them from, it's just my experience.

    Do you have pictures of the new birds? Pictures would greatly help, identify the severity of the issue and what needs to be done.

    It may just have been overcrowding and depending on how bad it is, the feathers may or may not grow back. Usually they do, unless they were pecked clean to the bone. Just give them time and plenty of good food and water, maybe some yogurt to help digestion, and I think they'll recover.

    -Kim
     
  5. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Forgive my ignorance. Were they breeders?

    Edit: I think that's my answer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2008
  6. yellowdragon

    yellowdragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see it all the time at an auction I go to. My guess is too many roos and not enough space to get away from them. I have bought some that look awful just to give them a good last home, they usally last forever( or untill we get our neiborhood dogs around) I hate when people can't except responsablity for their pets. I mean it torn through your fence. geezz. :mad:
     
  7. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The creepy thing is that the fencing was at about a thirty degree angle at its lowest point and the dog had to run over six feet of that. What dog does that? We have four big dogs and I can't think of one of ours that would even make the attempt.

    That dog *will* be rehomed. The owners are about to get slapped with a really big bill - the ACO is trying to charge them for our new fence. Between the chicken replacement and the fence, they're looking at $1300.
     
  8. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thanks Kim. We feed our dogs yogurt so we have plenty on hand.

    I'll get some pics tomorrow.
     
  9. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    First, I'm so sorry about your chickens. Once was bad enough but two raids is just awful.

    I do have to say it's refreshing to hear a case where finally animal control/police are on the side of the VICTIM in the case - the chicken owner. Hope they can make them pay up good, and with AC on your side you can take the dog owner to small claims if you have to and get a judgement against them. Maybe THAT will get their attention.
     
  10. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:ACO is about to release her six carefully raised and very pampered guinea hens which I think makes her sympathetic [​IMG]. She's also very very good at her job. The ACO from a year and a half ago was an idiot. He didn't even keep records.

    We're in a fairly rural area which used to be a farming community so there are still some laws on the books.
     

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