Problems, problems, problems...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cheekydog, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. cheekydog

    cheekydog Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello! I'm new here but have been a chicken keeper since June. All was going so well until recently :(. Can anyone offer any advice?

    First one chicken of three died. She's been sad for a few days then just dropped down dead. No matter, it was sad but the other two seemed fine so we stuck with them. Then I started pushing it with the free ranging. I let them out on Tuesday, went to work and the fox came at 11am. One down and one on its last legs. Well she pulled through but seemed so lonely. She hasn't laid eggs since. We got two extra yesterday which were free. I now realise that they were free as one is perpetually broody. Splitting the run into two we made a makeshift house for our first chicken but she won't go in it and is sleeping outside now. She still is not herself, looks totally bedraggled and missing loads of feathers and moreover is now walking with her legs really high? The new broody one just sits on the floor of the coop puffed up to about four times it's size! I'm really unsure how our original one will cope when they are integrated. She just stands around now looking forlorn and I don't know what the kindest thing to do is? Also I'm now too nervous to let any of them out and the run is so muddy they are just going to get miserable stuck in there aren't they? Any advice appreciated. Clare x
     
  2. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    What it sounds like is you have is an uncomfortable hen that is moulting. Is your coop for her draft free, and not leaking? It is important for birds to be protected from the weather. Put her in the coop at night. She'll get used to the routine and will eventually go in on her own. A comfortable roost is important. Most people use a 2x4 with the 2" side up, sanded smooth on the sides and corners. Did you keep the new birds separate for at least a month before allowing them to be housed with your hen that is moulting?

    In regard to her behavior, moulting is an uncomfortable time for birds. All of their energy goes into producing new feathers, so a balanced feed, and vitamin-mineral powder supplemented in water at least 3 days a week should be a routine during this time. Layer pellets/crumbles mixed half with a 20+% gamebird or grower ration will add extra protein for feather production. You can even offer some no salt tuna a couple days a week. Clean, dry feed that isn't allowed to get wet rancid is important to the bird's health also.

    Check the hen for lice or mites. Look between the feathers around the vent, belly, along the back, and under wings. Coccidiosis is a common problem in poultry and methods of immunity are usually practiced as chicks grow. starting at 2-3 weeks of age. Some people use medicated feed for the first 16-18 weeks, or they use a product called Corid (Amprolium) as a preventative in the water for 5 days, every 3 weeks until they are about 9 months old. The first 9 months are, in my opinion, the most important time in a chicken's life. They develop immunity during that time into maturity.

    Yards will get wet in Winter, but good drainage is important in the yard. This is often achieved by location, adding sand to the run, using drainage pipe in strategic areas, or digging ditches for runoff. A secure yard is important and if predators are a problem, range time must be monitored, baited traps set, and predators culled to keep populations down.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  3. Suzierd

    Suzierd Overrun With Chickens

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    :welcome sorry your having a hard time with your peeps poor girls, was the remaining chicken injured by the fox? I don't let my girls out unless I'm standing right with them watching for fox and hawks. Some would say I'm a bit over protective but I watched my neighbors chickens get wiped out down to a hand full I'm not sure if the remaining where moved or killed. And they had about two hundred. They didn't care enough to protect them. When the smorgasbord was done over there they thought they would try here. They didn't get any of mine and I saved one of theirs because it ran away and came lived with me. I just love her she a very smart girl and queen of the flock now.
    You got excellent advice from Michael, best of luck glad you found us.
     
  4. cheekydog

    cheekydog Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the replies. I hadn't thought about moulting, I assumed the missing feathers were from being attacked by the fox as they are missing round her neck. It looks truly gruesome when she bends down. I will keep trying to put her in her new cage (all waterproofed) and sort out the perch so it's better. She's slightly more animated today but looks really isolated and no eggs still. As for the other two I had an egg this morning (in the nest box) and I couldn't resist letting them out for a bit which they loved. Broody chicken went out too :)

    We only got the new ones yesterday. I was going to leave them separated for a week or until the original chicken started laying again (if she does). Is it really a whole month that they are usually separated? Seems really long!
     
  5. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    A month goes by quickly. It must be done for their own good. You'd be surprised how many people bring new birds into the flock immediately and then have an outbreak of MG or Coryza. You don't want that to happen. Observe them daily during that month and look for signs of respiratory problems, worms, and condition of droppings (watery, mucous, light green, or excessively white). Make sure they have a good appetite. Birds that are moulting are also more stressed and susceptible to diseases from new birds.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    If your chickens are already sharing a run, only separated by a fence or chicken wire, you may as well put them together whenever you think they're ready. It is recommended to quarantine for a month, but that means keeping them separated in pens and runs that are quite some distance apart. The missing feathers could be from the attack. If they're all from around her neck, that would be my guess. I would not put your first chicken in with the other two until she's feeling better. There will be squabbling to establish their pecking order, and if she's already weak or stressed, she could be injured further. She would definitely end up at the bottom of the pecking order. Did the people you got the other birds from tell you that the one is "perpetually broody"? It just seems to me that one day is not enough time to make that determination. There could be other reasons for her to be just sitting on the floor, such as an illness of some sort. You mentioned that your hen hasn't laid an egg since the attack - that's perfectly normal. Stress of any kind will affect egg production and can take several weeks to resume. If she has any injuries, she may not lay until she's healed as her body will put energy towards healing first.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. cheekydog

    cheekydog Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    They first said she had gone broody 'for a bit a while ago' then admitted when I turned up that she was broody. All the signs are there but she did go out for a bit yesterday. Now been back in best box since yesterday evening. I wouldn't mind so much but the other new one insists on getting in with her and now there's poo in there. Nobody is blimmin sleeping where they are meant to! The first three I got slept in the coop on the perches from night one (tsk). Does it really matter about original chicken sleeping on top of the makeshift coop? She won't go in it! We have had really bad wind and rain tonight and she's looking mighty hacked off and soggy now as well as injured but seems sort of content to sit there...? I wonder if I should have let her keep her original coop and put the other two in the makeshift seeing as they don't want to perch anyway!!!! Argh!!!!!!
     
  8. cheekydog

    cheekydog Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    *nest box, not best box!
     
  9. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Please go back and read posts 2,3,5, and 6. Chickens must have a secure shelter at night to protect them from the weather and predators.
     
  10. cheekydog

    cheekydog Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2013
    The coop is within an enclosed run so should be predator proof. Not so much weather proof. We have closed her into the makeshift coop tonight. The other two insist on sleeping with each other in the egg box.

    Thanks for all your help.
     

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