Our introduction to keeping chickens, the high's, the lows and pics of our journey.

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by Bens-Hens, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi all,

    My name is Ben. As a family we decided we would make a few changes around home and make a bit more effort to be 'green' We planned for chooks, but also started a worm farm, veggie patch, herb garden, composting and working the natural path over the enhanced path.

    Please, if your interested, sit back and enjoy a read, it most likely won't be short, we have learned much, and after learning so much from this forum, I thought I would share our experience.

    I should warn, many experience owners will see our mistakes and think "that was not a good idea" or "I would not have done it that way" We are very new to this and only got our first chickens in October 2012.

    Starting green also meant starting cheap hahaha, I didn't want to spend large amounts of money, so everything below is home made, and most of it is from free material I either had or was given. Well, it was up to a certain point, but I will get to that later.

    We started with a coupe, a old trailer frame from a paddock. 1200mmx2400mm

    [​IMG]


    I had some old tin at home. I wanted something suitable for about 4 chickens. We can have 6 (no roosters) but we didn't want to cram them in there. I wanted to be able to close them up at night, but open a door and let them roam during the day. This is some progress shots of what I cobbled together.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The floor was salvaged from two old pallets.
    [​IMG]

    Then inside, the nesting box was made by a friend as a trade for some old Army gear I had that I no longer needed after leaving the Australian Army. Fair trade! We have since put a lid on top with a cut out in the rear.
    [​IMG]

    That was phase one, so we then had to go pick up our chickens. We bought/rescued four Isa Browns from a local egg farm here in Perth. Compared to cage birds they were in good condition, but certainly not ideal. We were on our way!

    Each of our family members named one, meet Rhonda, Olivia, Noodles and Nugget.
    [​IMG]

    This was Noodles, day 2.
    [​IMG]

    Of the four birds, we got three eggs in the first couple of days, the first normal, and then two 'rough' ones, then no more. We were told they were in moult and would be off laying, as well as a change in food and environment.

    It took until December until we had another one. Very happy to see a nice brown smooth egg, 69g! The kids were over the moon! Even layed it in the nest :)
    [​IMG]

    One day, Nugget didn't look too good, so we left her in the shade with some food and water, but by the afternoon one of the boys ran up to tell us there was an emergency. Nugget had died. We were not sure of the cause, we had her for about a month or two. We had been told these high intensity type birds can be prone to this so we never had a necropsy done. Just buried her in our front garden. Our boys introduction to loosing a pet. We later suspect what she died of.

    After about a week, we found a local lady selling some wonderful coloured birds, we ended up buying;
    1x Caramel Rhode Island Red x Blue Austrolorpe called Latte', (approx 17 weeks)
    1x Golden Laced Wynadotte we called Mocha, (approx 17 weeks)
    1x Silver Laced Wynadotte we called Pepper. (approx 14 weeks)

    After much reading on here we made a secondary temporary pen, and brought the little pullets in there with all the creature comforts. The older birds free ranged around the pen and all seemed well.

    Latte'
    [​IMG]


    Mocha
    [​IMG]


    and little Pepper the day we got her
    [​IMG]


    Day 2 digging into some grower crumble. We were very proud!
    [​IMG]


    While the younger birds were in their pen, I decided to upgrade the run, some the renovation began.
    We made a fence to contain them when we had visitors, added some wire and planted two Passionfruit vines. Also posted in some coppers logs and hung a 3m shade sail, then topped it off with a little gate.

    We still let them roam the yard, but had more control of it. We would let the little birds roam in the morning while the older ones were closed up and slowly introduced the two groups. Worked well with no unexpected fuss.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Also made some internal changes, adding a bigger roost (which I had to train the birds to use), concrete floor to make cleaning easier.
    [​IMG]

    Life was good, and Sunday morning had never been better.Getting one egg a day.
    [​IMG]

    Then we spotted a cat in the yard, stalking the younger chooks while on free range. After a watchful few days, we actually had 4 cats now visiting our yard...and non cat proof chicken run. After much deliberation, we decided to enclose our run. I didn't have the needed materials, so we had to buy it. There goes the 'free' theory!

    We have decked it out as best we know, and keep them in there most of the day unless we are outside to keep an eye on them. Here is a few shots of the current run as of this morning. Notice the chickens like Passionfruit hahahaha we have gone through a few protective measures to try keep those vines alive long enough for them to stand a chance!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The outside entertainment area!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Extra shade
    [​IMG]

    Here is Rhonda and Noodles, full of feathers and looking healthy, but still not laying.
    [​IMG]

    and here is Latte' and Mocha, nearly full sized.
    [​IMG]

    Here unfortunately, it all takes a turn for the worse.

    Little Pepper began to shows the same signs as Nugget did about two weeks after worming. My wife loves her so much this time we decided to take her to the Avian vet on the second day.

    We showed him the photo's, he had a look at her and says that he is almost 100% confident the little SLW has a disease called Marek's Disease. He gives us some information and we come straight home to make her comfortable and hit google.

    We are devastated to learn about this, and how our flock most defiantly all have it and that the ground we have is most certainly infected with it and that there is little hope for Pepper, or any other bird that shows symptoms.

    We believe the rescue birds had been vaccinated, but the new pullets were not (see, you experienced people were right further up the page!

    Pepper showed the classic signs, after all the research I had done, I had never heard of it, and honestly it really has put a damper on our experience.

    I took photo's to share with the vet, but I will also put them here for those un-knowing, like we were.

    She was very reluctant to leave the coupe, so we separated her from the others, she would put her head up, gasp and close her eyes
    [​IMG]

    She also began to walk on the top of her left foot, as we learned, the paralysis was setting in. This got worse over the next day.
    [​IMG]

    I will spare the image of her poop, but the uriates (?) was a yellow and not white, which the vet said was liver issues.

    We had very little hope, we tried to find everything we could on helping her, even though it was and still is grim.

    We found the St Johns Wort theory, and for the sake of a few dollars we tried it, with no improvement what so ever. We called the vet today with some questions.
    Can she recover or are we prolonging the inevitable? He said that in some cases, their immune system can fight the virus, and they can recover to some degree. How much depends on what nerve damage is done and how long it has been. His words were "if she does not turn the corner in the next day or so you need to consider culling it" SO there was some hope, but it was slim.

    If she does go into remission, will her leg get better? He said "Yes, but better is a scale of varying degree's, if the swelling in her nervous system goes down fast enough, she could gain, some or much of her leg use back, but the longer the damage is there, the less likely she will be able to use her leg again." The later, "if she is still fighting it, and you want to spend the time nursing her, go for it, all is not lost yet, but be prepared that a full recovery is very rare"

    We have her in a little ICU at home and are going to give her another day or so before considering culling her.

    As for the future, we want to keep chickens for sure, but how we go about cleaning our land (if it's even possible) before starting again once this flock has lived it life, or if we can still add to the flock and accept the loss rate I don't know. It is still early days and I am still reading all I can about how manage a flock and land with this history.

    Thanks for reading, I will be sure to keep this updated, firstly with Peppers progress and secondly with how we look after our flock.

    Cheers, Ben and family.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
    4 people like this.
  2. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know the last one was long, but if anyone could tell me why the IMG tags don't work that would be great too! As far as I can tell, they should be embedding the images?!

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    You need to have a certain number of posts to your history (you posting, replying to posts, etc.) before BYC allows image display. It's an automatic anti-spam thing.

    I have Mareks in my flock. I have moved from where it first appeared in one of my hens, but I have several of the first chicks I bought in 2009 now holding senior hen(s) and dominant rooster status. I keep about 50 chickens.... In the past 3 years, I've lost five to the disease. The flock has suffered more from outbreaks of cocci than from Mareks.

    I do know others who would have culled their entire flocks for this, but these are my pets. I shan't be eating them, selling them or showing them.

    Sufferers in my flock have been provided supportive care for as long as they showed interest and enthusiasm for food and company.

    It IS a terrible disease, but it hasn't wiped out my flock. I have read of remission in Mareks and keep that in mind whenever I suspect a case, although none of my five pulled out of the paralysis.

    I'm sorry this is happening to you. I did want to chime in with at least my informed response.
     
  4. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks Gryeyes,

    All input is welcome, as we just want to know how to move forward. Hearing 'there's not much you can do' is hard to take. So we take it on board, learn and move forward.

    Little Pepper is still with us, still seems to be fighting. She has not taken on much water on her own, only by syringe, BUT, she has enjoyed a few grapes, some grower crumble made into a mash and as I write this is pecking away at some dry crumble and sun flower seeds. She did stand earlier too, but her foot was still curled over.

    I understand the post quota, just did not know it was here. Any idea how many is needed?

    Sincerely, Ben
     
  5. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok, I had to change the way I loaded the images, but alas! I can share :)
     
  6. DDNONIN2016

    DDNONIN2016 Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,854
    107
    218
    Jan 27, 2012
    SW Ohio
    Loved your coop story and pics Ben. You have a very nice setup :)
    Praying some chickens prayers for Peppers recovery [​IMG]
    I lost a couple of silkies years ago to Mareks but have since added 30 (un-vaccinated) chickens and have never had another case (fingers crossed).
    Also have read a few stories here on BYC about chickens that have recovered and lived long lives.
    Hope she gets better. She is very pretty. Best wishes for her
     
  7. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you very much.

    Pepper is still with us this morning, she is eating mash and dry food on her own, but her leg has not shown any improvement over last night just yet. She did seem more perky yesterday evening which was a good sign, even tried to escape the ICU (aka an old coffee machine box) but her leg function is letting her down.
     
  8. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    28,741
    5,363
    576
    May 11, 2010
    Enjoyed the photos and the story. Your setup is wonderful. I hope Pepper gets well soon!
     
  9. DDNONIN2016

    DDNONIN2016 Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,854
    107
    218
    Jan 27, 2012
    SW Ohio
    I dont know much about it but maybe a little excercise would do her some good. Since the disease attacks the muscles maybe excercise would keep them stronger. Just my thoughts tho. That certainly may not be the proper thing to do. Hope she is feeling better today
     
  10. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have taken her outside into the shade for some grass time, and we have actioned her legs is some 'unskilled' physio.

    I like to think if it has not helped her in some sort of recovery at least it was nice to get out of the box.

    Her leg is worse I think, and the other one also seems affected. As of this afternoon she had one foot forward, and the other back. Any hope of some form of recovery is fading.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by