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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: parasites

We noticed some mites on a hen that was getting her injured leg wrapped. They are extremely tiny and easy to miss, but when you see them on your poultry, it is best to deal with the situation as soon as possible. Within the next day or two, one by one, I pulled our birds out of the coops. Each chicken was treated for these nuisance pests.

Our injured bantam Ameraucana hen

Wild birds and newly purchased poultry are the main sources of chicken mites and lice. It is part of the deal if you choose to keep chickens, but merely requires periodic checks and attention. Bird mites/lice are species specific. You may get a few on you when working with your chickens, and they may bite you. But, they will not take up residence on humans.

With our poultry now held in smaller, stronger coops due to predatory loss, parasite proliferation and disease can occur more easily. Free ranging chickens are usually very healthy since they have the freedom to take care of their own hygiene and balance their own nutrition.

Our main coop is a tractor type and allows you to move your chickens to a fresh patch of grass. It is the best compromise for caged v. loose. We need to build more of these.

Chickens normally clean themselves off by taking dirt/sand baths. They enjoy dusting themselves as much as they like to scratch and peck at the ground. I sometimes let a group out towards the evening to frolic about so that if any of them elude re-capture, they’ll roost shortly as the sky darkens. When they are in “zombie sleep mode” I can grab up any of the strays.

When I was taking this closer look at our fowl, I noticed how glossy our red bantam Cochin rooster had become. The feathers of a rooster are so beautiful. The older a male chicken gets, the more magnificent the plumage becomes. So, after completing my farmette chores, I took some new pics:

“Mozart” (bantam Polish rooster) unhappy about picture day

Black & White feathers

“Big Red” – Red bantam Cochin roo

Red feathers

Black & Red bantam cockerel

Black & Red feathers

Splash bantam Cochin cockerel

Splash feathers

Blue Showgirl Silkie roo

Blue feathers

White bantam Polish x Showgirl Silkie “Ugly Project” cockerel

I am not sure if any iridescence will show up in this little guy’s tail feathers, but we will know by the Spring. Either way, he is handsome
– in a strange and bizarre kind of way.

White feathers

Hens can have great feathers too.

Splash bantam Ameraucana hen’s feathers

Mille Fleur bantam Cochin hen

Mille Fleur (“Thousand Flowers”) feathers

Pictures do not do justice to the color, shine and detail of chicken feathers. In order to see how truly gorgeous they are, you must see them in person – or raise your own personal  flock!

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It is hard to write about the hard times on the Farmette. But it is important that everyone know that it is not all fun and games. Sometimes you lose livestock – and not to old age.

Parasites, illness and predators are a constant threat. The last chicken purchases may have brought in an illness. It could have been mice sneaking in to salvage any uneaten grain. It could have been carried on the wind from other birds. We lost several birds to sickness recently.

It is difficult when you are attempting to keep your Farmette natural and organic. I try to hold back as much as possible before treating birds with chemical based solutions. There are two little hens in a crate in the garage right now. Since they have both had the eye/sinus infections twice, I finally let go and am treating them with store bought antibiotics in their water.

This illness seemed to be compounded by some type of internal parasites, even though everyone was recently de-wormed. A couple of them just did not put on adequate weight as they were maturing. They were the ones became sick and did not recover.

One of the young guineas caught his head in the fence when poking it in the turkey coop. Fowl are very territorial. The turkeys pecked him to death in his vulnerable position. Our lovely little bantam hen, Pumpkin, ventured into the back fenced area with the dogs. The pack instinct set in and she did not make it back out.

Then there was the pen massacre. Something (weasel, cat, racoon…?) discovered an easy way to get a meal. The really nasty part about that was that it must think that bird heads are a delicacy, since it left the remainder of some of my little birds for the gruesome discovery.

There are no pictures for this blog. I’d really like to get all of those images out of my head.

So, now only the bantam chicken group is allowed to free range and only during the day. They get locked up at night now. Actually, the pigeon and 2 remaining guineas join them for sleepovers. They roost high off the ground, so they are the super free rangers, but they must feel safer still in the main coop.

The main coop needs work. If the funds can ever be raised, we would love to have a big barn to shelter the whole crew. But, for now, the coop seems to be keeping Jack the Ripper out.

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