Chickens in the Snow

As you can see, the chickens finally went outside this weekend! It was about time - they'd been cooped up since the beginning of December when we got our first snow. They seemed to be deathly afraid of it even though I shoveled out a section of their run.

I got them to go outside by dumping a bag of bedding on top of the snow and sprinkling black oil sunflower seeds on top. That got them out quick They just love sifting through pine shavings looking for the seeds. They're like chicken candy!

On Friday I noticed the Welsummer's tail was a little scraggly. On closer inspection I could see a patch of bare skin. In the next few days I noticed my other hens were getting torn up around the base of their tails. My first thought was that they were getting claustrophobic and pecking each other. I posted some questions on the message board at Backyardchickens.com asking what to do about pecking, and someone mentioned that perhaps they have mites...... I hadn't thought of that. I tried to find pictures of mite damage online and convinced myself that they had a bad case of the mites.

I went out on Sunday morning to find my favorite hen (the red Sussex affectionately named Red Hen) bloody by her tail. Whatever the case, something had to be done! I put her in the basement with some food and water so that none of the hens could peck at her and went to get some supplies.

For the coop I got an all natural enzyme spray called "Poultry Protector". It's supposed to get rid of mites. I cleaned out all the bedding from the coop (so much for the deep litter method!), sprayed everything down, sprinkled diatamacious earth everywhere, and put new bedding down. The hens disliked the process, but they were really happy with their new digs when it was all done.

For Red Hen I got some Blue Kote - a gooey blue substance that helps clean and seal wounds. It dyed her hind-feathers a very becoming shade of purple!

I also got this 3 gallon feed trough and filled it with sand, a little potting soil, and more diatamacious earth. Right away, they started vying for dust baths. Perfect!

Today they seemed really happy to be outside but it was impossible to tell whether their feathers were growing back. These three are the worst off. Red Hen is on the right, one of the black Copper Marans is in the middle, and the Welsummer on the left.

This is the better off of the Black Coppers. Her tail doesn't have any bare spots, but it's still pretty mussed.

The other Black Copper is a little worse off.

The only one not affected is the Wheaten Marans.

The Welsummer is the first one I noticed, and seems to be worst of them all.

She's got a pretty large bald spot, although she manages to hide it pretty well with her wings and tail.

Once again, the perfect Wheaten. Not a feather out of place!

Notice anything fishy in this picture? The Wheaten is the closest to the camera and is in the act of pecking Red Hen's hindquarters! This afternoon I witnessed her making the rounds and pecking all of the hens on their butts - right where the feather damage is. It was the first time I'd seen this behavior, but it certainly was incriminating!

Not mites? I'm not positive, but it's seeming likely that it's a bully chicken instead. I'll have to watch carefully in the next few days to see how things develop. Diagnosing chicken problems is hard!

The Wheaten is quite a bird. She's the biggest, healthiest, and lays the most beautiful eggs. If I didn't know better I'd say she has an ego problem! If she really is the bully, I'm hoping that access to the outdoors will help things, and I'll try giving them some other chicken "toys" to distract her. If that doesn't help, she may have to spend some time in chicken jail (aka. a large cardboard box in my basement).

Here's the egg she layed today. One of the most lavender I've had from her yet. You can see how big it is - the others are a nice large size, but hers dwarf them.

The lavender stain on her eggs is really neat - this is what it looks like when it gets wet. The lavender comes right off and you can see the dark mahogany egg underneath. The lightly speckled egg is from one of the Black Copper Marans, the brown one underneath is from the Welsummer, and the light one belongs to the Buff Sussex.
share on: Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.