Friday 27 July 2018

Goodby Dillys darling

Dillys died today.

Dillys, and her twin sister Phyllis,  were hatched in 2014 from one of the Welsh Black harem girls and our gorgeous boy Henry.    Unlike all the other black offspring,  they had flat ('normal') combs instead of pea combs.  She was, like her sister,  large, bolshy, inquisitive and friendly.  Always pecking for attention, always tripping us up for treats.

She had been off colour, on and off,  for a little while. We'd seen her a few times (not when it was this hot) with a blue tinge to her comb,  and each time we've thought she was probably going to go, so it's not exactly unexpected.   She looked a bit off colour again on Wednesday, and DH gave her some Nutridrops... but this time,  it was the last.   I don't think it was particularly the heat, although I guess that might have been the last straw.

I can't find many pictures of  her (them).   I found this one, which has both of them in.  I can't tell them apart in the picture... I often couldn't tell them apart unless they were both in front of me at the same time.  In case you can't see the combs, one of them is on the left eating from a fruit bush;  the other is in the foreground looking at the slab.

I guess flat combed chicks are more likely, now that our cockerel is a Vorwerk.They'd have to go some to be as cheeky as Phyllis and Dyllis.

I haven't told Small Person yet.    I'll wait until we are chatting tonight.    I would bet that, after she's interrogated me on the details of what happened and had a bit of a reminisce about Dillys,   she'll ask me whether it means we can keep more girls from this year's hatch.

Poor babies

The chicks are really struggling with the heat. 

CHickens dont sweat.  They lose heat through their combs and wattles.  If it's really hot, and they can't lose enough heat through the combs and wattles,  they pant.  They are coarrying around feather duvets, and they often have to lift their wings up to try and let some air flow in.

Most of the chicks have no combs or wattles yet, so the ONLY way they can lose heat is panting.  Sometimes, this isn't enough... you may remember that we lost one to heatsroke last week.    Our chooks have a gazebo, a tree, and some other shade.  They have an electric fan.  WeThey have waterers which are re-filled twice a day (so the replacement water is cooler). 

Recently we added two shallow troughs (one was a cat litter tray we bought to use as a chick dust bath, the other was a washing up bowl which is usually used when the allotmenteers need a bath).   A small amount of water,  we tried getting them to stand in them initially, but that didn't work.  Now we use them as additional drinkers, with water refreshed seveeral times a day.    We throw in some sunflower seeds (which the chicks love, but which are far too fattening for them), so the chicks have to dunk their faces to get to them.

Yesterday it hit 35 degrees and the chicks were struggling.    Small Person and I ended up giving each chick a quick bath,  just enough to get them damp.     In the aftermath of the bath, none of the chicks were panting, and they all looked quit ecomfortable.    Of course it wore off, so we ended updoing it several times a day.

I tried using a sprinkler on mist (as recommended by FlytesoFancy), but the chicks were too afraid of it.  

Today, I've put bottles of frozen water in the troughs, to try and keep the water cooler for longer.    Of course the chicks didn't like this change... but sunflower seeds in the water meant it wasn't long before they were trying to stand on the bottles to reach in to the water.

We've got a small area of shrub which they don't currently have access to,  and I've been busy pruning the bay tree so we can get some netting round it.     Then they can have that, and hopefully that will be enough for them to withstand today's temperatures without repeated bathing.  I've done them once today so far.

We tried feeding the chicks some tiny cubes of cucumber, but they didn't want to know.   Small Person sat for ages in with the Big Girls feeding them cucumber.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Rest of the week

It continues hot and, apart from a welcome short drizzle last night, no rain.

PinkComb is still with us.  Several times a day I've been picking him up, bringing him in, and giving him a drink from a syringe.  Up until yesterday, he drank every time.   I've also been massaging his crop, as I think he has a bit of a blockage.

Yesterday he didn't want to drink from the syringe, and he seemed quite perky.

I'll keep an eye on him, of course.

It's now easier to tell who is a boy and who is a girl.  If the 6 black chicks,  PinkComb BlackRing and OrangeRing are boys;  purple ring is a girl;  I'm not sure about RedRing and PinkRing.    Of the others,  Brownie is a boy,  Number 6 may be a girl (although that might be wishful thinking),  and Penguin...well, I'm not sure.

Penguin, Number 6 and Purple Ring spend a lot of time together. 

Black Ring, the least hand tame, likes to climb on the coop and then fly out of the run. 

They don't look like chicks now, they all look like tiny chickens.

Back in the Big Girls coop, Poppy has given up being broody.  She has been out for a couple of days, and is being completely vile to Faye.  I'm guessing that Poppy has slipped down the pecking order to fourth, and doesn't want to bottom.     It gave me a tinmely reminder of how difficult it is going to be if I decided to add more girls to their flock.

Poppy can't help it.  She endured torment from monster hen Milly (something I very much regret not dealing with sooner).     She did not tke kindly to the introduction of Faye, Sasha and Fleur,    and I suspect that the nastiness may have affected them too.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Yesterday and this morning

Later on, another bird - PinkComb, a boy - seemed a bit listless.  I picked him up, but he wasn't particularly warm so heatstroke seemed unlikely.  I gave him some yoghurt (laced with AviPro), which he refused to eat,  and I attempted to give him some vitamins.  I ended up wearing the vitamin drops.

I put him back in the run.  He was eating and drinking a bit, but didn't look right.

This morning, he was OK, but not quite himself.  I made up the dog crate for him,  but he's not letting me catch him (which is a good thing I suppose).

I've been scrubbing and disinfecting all drinkers and feeders in both the Chick area and the Big Girls area.    I've bought some Coxoid, just in case we need it.

It's not licensed for poultry, but it used  to be the thing that chicken keepers used.    I'm not sure whether to dose everyone, just in case.

They've all been sitting around this morning.  That's not unusual,  but it is worrying when I'm in a state of anxiety.   

In an attempt to get them to do something, I  refilled the dust bath. Fresh sand, fresh woodash, fresh topsoil.     They all attempted to get in.  At the same time.

PinkComb was in the midst of the dustbath, and he's (mostly) wandering around with the others and is eating and drinking.

Stressful day.

So. Very. Sad.

One of our chicks died yesterday.

I could see that she wasn't right. She was sitting away from the others, and kept moving away when any of them came to keep her company.

It looked like heatstroke,  so I did a cut down version of the usual stuff.  She was very warm. Chicks are very warm, but she seemed warmer than 'normal'.   I thoroughly wetted a towel,  with warmish water, wrapped the chick in it,  then wet a small rag and put it over her head.  I unwrapped her so she would feel the cooling effects, and rewet it.  I put it underneath her.  I checked her over to see if I could see any signs of injury, and I checked her vent in case there was blood.

I was loathe to do anything more dramatic. I wasn't sure she could cope with being more thoroughly wetted.     

I squirted some water in her beak, using my smallest syringe. I mixed some Avipro ith a tiny bit of yoghurt which she ate.and then put her back outside. I put a wet towel next to her so she could lean on it if she wanted. 

An hour later, I got her out again, and repeated it.   

A little later she took herself up to bed.

And then I heard a scuffle from inside the coop, and I knew she had died.

Poor little poppet.

Friday 13 July 2018


We moved the chick bench into the chicks enclosure,  so they'd have something to jump up and down from, and somewhere to congregate off the floor.

We had a discussion about whether to put it in or not.  The reason for the discussion is that Wash had adopted the bench and really liked stretching out on it, and it seemed mean to steal it back from him.

But, steal it back we did.

It's been a great success.

I might see about getting another one for Wash.

Monday 9 July 2018

Photo call

They are starting to turn into young chickens now,


Brownie, PinkComb, and 3 of the other black chicks

Number 6


It's so hot! 

33 degrees Celsius yesterday.

Everywhere is tinder dry.   We've rearranged the Big Girls area so that they have the back fence and shrubs, andthat's where they spend most of the day.  It's pleasant and cool there.     They have a waterer there too, so they don't have to go back in the Run to get a drink.

It was more problematic for the Littlees.  We'd been putting up the table shade, which casts a shadow over part of their run for most of the day.  I'd put some special greenhouse shading on the run, which blocks the heat but lets the air in.

Then I'd had to put a shade shade on the run.

Then I'd added in some pram shades, but they were a bit dangerous. All these things only helped shade the run, not the free range area.

In the end we excavated Myshed to find the gazebo, and it for them.   It's something like 3m square, so it covers a good part of their area.   They also have 3 watering stations.

Can't do much about the grassm though.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Jumpy Uppy

Small Person (I really must come up with a better name for her now) came after school earlier in the week.     She sat in the run and played pick up chicks (holding each one correctly and giving himher a treat as a reward),  and then she decided to try and teach them JumpyUppy.   She wasn't quite clear with her arm, and ended up being mugged by a swarm of small chickens.

Since then, I've neen training them to do jumpy uppy myself.  They are getting the hang of the flying up,  but they have no concept of taking turns,  and the opportunist ones interpret any bit of arm as an invitation.   We've probably got 6 or 7 that are happy to jump up now.

It came in handy today because Penguin escaped.   I brought the treat bowl out,  offered my arm,  and heshe gently landed on my arm and got carried back.    No drama.

My arm is quite badly scratched, because the little ones have such sharp claws.

I've also done pick up chicks as well, to make sure they don't lose that skill.

They really are a lovely bunch.    

Brownie is six weeks old tomorrow, Penguin is 6 weeks on Saturday,  the other 2 earlies are 6 weeks on Sunday.     The rest of the bunch are 5 weeks old now.

Time to stop putting the hen on overnight.

Beddy Byes

It's continued to be unbearably hot.

A few nights ago, we decided to see if the chicks would take themselves to bed.  7 managed it, 3 did not.  The following night, 9 managed it and 1 did not.  It has continued like that for several nights now.

The sleeping positions vary.  Some nights they are all on the floor,  some nights 7 of them pack on to the top of the hen.     I've still been putting the hen on before  I go to bed, because it gets a bit nippy at 4 in the morning.

We've tried teaching the straggler to go up the stairs, but she just isn't getting the hang of it. 

Today, after I mucked out.  I  decided to put the roosting bars in.  I don't want to force them to sleep on roosting bars though, so they also have a flat nest box as an option,   plus the top of the hen.  It will be interesting to see where they choose to sleep.