Thursday, March 31, 2011

What to Do about Boo-Boos

 In yesterday's comments, Cindy mentioned they have used Mentholatum as a topical treatment for small "boo-boos" with her poultry.  Old Timer's have used that for years with good success!  I use Scarlet Oil over any wounds, or have used Furazone Spray too, if it is handy.  Scarlet Oil covers the scent of blood and has worked well for me, but hens with dripping blood should be kept in isolation until they heal.  Minor scrapes or small pecks can be treated with any of these topicals, but keep a watchful eye out for any aggressive birds that might have it in their minds to pursue other poultry with minor cuts.  The idea is to catch it before it becomes a bigger problem!
I once had a beloved hen ("Tina" - may she rest in peace!) that got torn up by a Pitbull that wandered into our woods.  I scared the dog away, but my hens' skin and feathers on her back were pulled away to the point where I could see a large square of muscle (about 6 x 6), and one of her arteries was pulsing out blood in HUGE spurts!  I did believe we would have to put her out of her misery, but the Hubbs pulled out the Furazone Spray and sprayed her very well.  We set her up in a private and enclosed area with a nice little house she could get in and out of easily.  Amazingly to me, she healed up just fine when she was treated daily with the Furazone for a couple weeks, and  after applying the Furazone the first time, we were able to pull that flap of skin back up over her muscles, and spray on top of it too!  No bandaging needed, as the skin flap served that purpose!  She lived another 3 years!

Thanks for reminding me about the Mentholatum, Cindy!  I'm sure others will be happy to add that item to their Poultry Medicine Chest!
the ChickenWrangler

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hens Need No Introductions - - - - Or DO They?!? Letters to Lizzy

Dear Miss Lizzy,
Springtime makes us Farm Girls think of Baby Peeps, and I did so enjoy seeing those photos on the previous post!  I would like to know when (and how) to introduce new chicks or hens to the flock of my older Biddies!  It seems that since hens have hatched out their own peeps since the beginning of time, this would not be a problem at any life stage of poultry!  Perhaps I'm just being overly cautions, but I worry that that there might be some injury caused to the new birds OR the older hens.  Advice, please!
Signed: Bewildered Betty
Click to enlarge - Chick Sorting done in 1950's
Dear Bewildered,
Rest assured - there is DEFINITELY cause for concern when introducing new members to an established flock!  Caution must always prevail!  Things are done so differently these days.  Broodiness is being bred out of hens.  Folks now-a-days want hens to PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE, and SO - - eggs are laid and hens go about their daily business, for the most part, unless they are classified as "broody", and some ORNERY CUSS will fight till the bitter end if she even THINKS someone is out to remove an egg from beneath her fluffy bottom!
 Never, NEVER put a young peep in with the older hens or pullets!  Miss Lizzy always says, "Same Size keeps em ALIVE.  Wantum DEAD? Mix sizes INSTEAD!"  The best plan is to keep the peeps in a separate pen until they are near the size of the birds you wish to keep them with!  Depending on the breed of pullets you have, this could be for 5-6 months of age, for medium size hens like Wyandotts such as myself.
  As the new pullets approach appropriate introduction size, move their location quite near the location of the Working Girls, so they can get accustomed to the sight  and smell and sound of each other.  If one does not have large pens available, place the pullets in a large rabbit cage close to the hens, or, divide the large run with chicken wire, but be sure no pullet can squeeze through underneath or around or over TOP of the wire (mayhapst to cover the top of the smaller pen with chicken wire as preventative measure....).  Do this for about a week, but if you have an agressive breed, you may wish to wait 2 weeks.
Forewarned is Forearmed - - best ye put the new-bees in the coop when the OLD-Bees are quieted down and roosting for the NIGHT.  Likely the OLD-Bees won't take much notice in the morning as they go about searching for feed to fill their crops.  If they do take notice, then they might take a quick snap at a new fluffy butt, out of curiosity, doing no serious harm.  If a human can supervise for a while, this would be safest.  For once blood is drawn, there can begin the bloodbath of the century, right before your very wary eyes! 

And now a final word of CAUTION to avoid IMMEDIATE AND CERTAIN DEATH IN THE HEN HOUSE - Miss Lizzy will add that to mix Bantams with full size layers is not advisable!  This is not to say it has not been done with success before upon such occasion under watchful wary eyes!  Remember, "Same Size keeps em alive!"  And, a WORD TO THE WISE:  if someone offers a free Polish hen, "JUST SAY NO" unless there are already Polish in a separate pen.  They are remarkably stylish birds, but unless you wish to chance bloodshed or a special needs hen, avoid mixing at all costs!  For the most part, hens will feel the need to remove that lovely cap of feathers atop a Polish head - PURE JEALOUSY!  That's how we are!

Wishing you the UTMOST of good fortune,
Miss Lizzy

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


 The local farm supply store in the big city finally got in some nice pullets, and as I wandered by each bright and clean pen, there was quite a selection to choose from.  A woman approached and remarked that her granddaughter has been begging for baby chicks for her birthday, but GRANDMA was the one who lived in the COUNTRY!  After she realized that I might know a few things about poultry (laying hens to be exact!), she peppered me with questions.  Not a challenge to me - I'm always willing to help someone new to poultry keeping.
 After giving her some chick picking tips and showing her some items to help get her started, I finally was able to select the peeps I had decided upon - 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Buff Orpingtons, Silver and Golden Laced Wyandotts (one of each).  6 total!  So fuzzy and cute!  Hubbs would surly be charmed and not alarmed when I brought them in the door!
I lifted each peep from their traveling crate, and they were immediately given the "once over" by my Aussie Customs Inspector....He is using his soft "red eye", so as not to blind the Peeps!  (yep, poor excuse for rotten photography!)
They huddled together for a bit, and then found the chick feed....
and then they all layed flat out on top for a snooze!
And I was right - Hubby was charmed....He's thinking he's ready for ANYTHING in his funny Tee Shirt!  Woe is me for purchasing that one for him!

the ChickenWrangler

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Happy St. Paddy's Day!
the ChickenWrangler

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Recently I made the round of the local feed stores.  CHICK DAYS have started, and I love to see the new baby PEEPS!  In one store there were several people gathered around some metal troughs that contained different breeds of chicks, and as I got closer I could hear comments like, "...Oh - the poor little things!  Just look - their bottoms are all ...DIRTY!....Do you think they're sick?  No, they are moving, but this one is just laying there with its head in the shavings....oooooh, I wonder why no one is taking care of them...."
  I looked into the troughs to see what the folks were talking about - and sure enough, every last trough contained chicks and ducks with manure covering their vent areas!  One lady found a tissue and was helping one of the chicks to get clean - but she was also pulling loose some of the down on the chick's bottom.  When they asked what was wrong, I offered that the chicks were "stressed"  from shipping, and should be cleaned by wetting their butts so the excretement could be removed.  With blocked vents, they would not be able to eliminate waste and could die.  Of course I approached the workers who were standing around in a customer service station, talking.  After briefly explaining the concerns of the customers to the men, one remarked - "....uh, well, we're expecting a new shipment either tomorrow or the next day....".   That comment made me realize that the chicks were "expendable".  I felt badly for the waste of those young lives.

With Spring rapidly approaching so many stores are offering bunnies and chicks for purchase as pets or for starting 4-H projects.  If you are looking to buy chicks to start a flock for eggs, meat, or just entertainment, don't buy unhealthy chicks. It may be possible to cure them, but there is also a good chance that you'll be caring for a special needs flock that may never regain the health they should have had from the very beginning.

Look for chicks with bright, clear eyes, clean vent areas, and chicks with interest in food and drink.  Water should be clean, food should be readily available.  The babies will be wanting to nap alot, but some will be walking about, eating or drinking, and a peep now and then will be normal.

Never purchase chicks with twisted beaks, bent legs, dirty vent areas, or one with dull eyes.  Droopy and hunched over chicks are not healthy.  If you touch a sleepy chick it should respond and move away, but calm down quickly.  If the chicks are very noisy, something is wrong - they may be cold, thirsty, or hungry, or worse!  There should be no blood, raw or sore looking areas on the chicks, no missing fluff on the birds.

Enjoy Chick Days, but be sure to choose chicks wisely.  Healthy flocks produce healthy products for you and your family.

Signed - the ChickenWrangler

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Have Mercy - Jumpers for Battery Hens??

Rescued Battery Hens in the UK (not my photo)
 There has been much in the news during the past couple of years concerning the life of hens in the "Battery Farms".  Battery farms, if you are new to the term, are the commercial farms that house the hens producing the gazillions of eggs purchased in grocery stores by consumers like you and me. The horrible housing for hens have been reported on, and much info can be obtained by searching the internet using various key words, so I won't Grand-Stand on proper humane care for poultry here and now.  My readers already know how strongly I feel when it comes to the care of all animals, and my "girls" are no exception!
Battery Hen (photo from Little Hen Rescue)
Many rescue organizations in the USA and abroad have helped remove battery hens from deplorable conditions; the rescued birds are given proper feed and better housing, but some have had feathers plucked by their cell occupants, and are bloodied and bare because of this, or are naked because of "forced molting".  The Rescues have put out an SOS to their members and anyone else who might care to help.  Items needed?  Chicken Jumpers!

Have MERCY!  Can you knit?  More jumpers are needed!  Please click on Little Hen Rescue to read more.  Here's a pattern if you care to help:
Pattern for Knitted Hen Jacket


Double knitting yarn (100g makes approximately 3 jumpers)
2 buttons or 10cm Velcro
1 pair of number 8 (4mm) knitting needles
4mm crochet hook

Knitted in stocking stitch with garter stitch borders

Cast on 41 sts,
Work 4 rows K
Increase for tabs;
Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 4 sts, k4.
Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 14sts, k14.
Work buttonholes; (work these 2 rows straight if using Velcro).
(K2, yf k2tog) 3 times, work to end keeping edges in garter st.
Repeat this row for buttonholes on the other tab.
Cast off 10 sts at beginning of next row.
Next row – cast off 10 sts, k4, p2 tog, p to last 6 sts, p2tog, k4.
Dec 1 st at each end on every fol 6th row until 25 sts remain.

Divide for neck;
Work 11 sts, cast off 3, work to end – complete this half first.
1)     k4, p to end
2)     cast off 2, k to end
3)     k4, p to end
4)     k2tog, k to end
5)     k4, p2tog, p to end
Work 4 rows straight
  10) K to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.
  11) K4, p to last st, inc in next st.
  12) Cast on 2 sts, k to end, (11sts)
  13) K4, p to end
  14) K
Break yarn and rejoin to the other side of neck. 
Work to match, reversing shaping’s and ending at winghole edge.
Next row – k, cast on 3, k across sts from other side of neck.
Next row , k4 inc in next st, p to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.
Inc 1 st at each end of every fol 6th row until there are 41 sts on the needle.
Work 6 rows straight.
Change to gst and knit 4 rows.
Cast off.

Sew on buttons or Velcro as desired.
Work double crochet around neck. 

I don't knit, but I'd sure love to have one of those jumpers for Miss Lizzy!  Isn't the striped one in the above photo just the "Chick's Pajamas"?!?  I adore that bow - what a stylish addition!
Have a great day!
the ChickenWrangler