Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Rock bottom

One of my least favourite (yet curiously satisfying) chicken keeping job is "bottom cleaning".

Usually the Girls manage to keep their nether regions clean, but if they have a bit of a runny poo this can catch on their fluffy knickers and dry to a little rock... and then the next poo fails to clear the little rock and so it becomes a bigger rock and so on.

Left unsorted, this can degrade until the poor hen has a whole load of little rocks (or several large ones) hanging around her vent, which then become attractive to flies. Flies lay their eggs, the eggs hatch.... you get the picture I'm sure.

One of the allotment Girls, Mrs Roo, is very brick shaped, and seems to have a claggy bottom more often than most.  Being on the allotment, it's tricky to deal with it. I usually end up taking a flask of hot water down with me, and then sit her on my lap and attempt to clean her up.    It needs to be a warm day, as I can't use a hairdryer on her (no Electric) and I can't risk her getting a chill.

I did her at the weekend.

Today I noticed that Delilah, my oldest and most beautiful Garden Girl, had a bit of an, ahem, accumulation, so I decided I'd bath her undercarriage.  I cleared the area around our double sink,  filled it with warm water, and went out to get her.    She knew Something was Up, and hid under the bay tree.  Milly rushed past, and I thought I saw a bit of a pebble on her botty, so I caught her instead.

Chickens seem to quite like bathing, as long as you're calm and gentle.  I stood her in the sink, the water came up to her knees... or, rather, where her knees would be if she had any.  And then she lowered herself into the water!

She was quick and easy to do, as there wasn't much there. I probably could have dealt wit hit with a bit of damp cotton wool.  Towelled her off, and took her back outside, riding on my arm.  Quite a touching moment really, as she hasn't done that since she was 14 weeks old.

Sink emptied, rinsed, refilled. Out to get Delilah.  

Delilah also really seemed to like the warm water.  She liked the dish of corn even more.  Delilah is a big, old, bird;  she rarely lays an egg, occasionally we get a softee. She wheezes a bit, like she's out of breath. She doesn't like to be picked up or carried.  She will put up with sitting on my lap if I sit on the swing as the motion seems to settle her.    Sorry, I'm digressing.  

Delilah didn't want to get out.  Not sure if it was the soothing warm water, or the dish of corn that made my sink The Place To Be,  but The Place To Be it was.  Eventually I prised her out of the sink and onto the towel to dry her.  Then she had her cranky pants back on, and whinged all the way back to the Hen Pen.  

It was so much easier than a flask of water and a dish. down at the Allotment.  I might  find a washing up bowl and take a lot of hot water down next time and try giving Mrs R a bath that way.

Oh, and yes, of course I disinfected the sink and surrounding area afterwards.  Hmm. I wonder if I can make room for a Butler sink in my utility room....


  1. I use a big plastic baby bath for this...it used to be compostgirl's baby bath!