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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: poultry

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About a third of our flock is now sneezing and/or coughing a bit. That makes it the 4th pet/livestock issue in a week. All four separate problems. And, there is another tropical storm coming (from the South West not the South East this time).

That tub has Poultry Cell Rooster Booster in it. It has vitamins, minerals and more. The current issue was starting up yesterday (or the day before – it’s all a blur), so they all had access to a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt. You shouldn’t give them this too often, so yesterday they got a bowl of coconut oil to help boost their immune response. It also adds calories to birds that may be losing weight from illness. Now that I am writing this I realize that it must have been Monday that this problem began.

See those hanging soda bottle drinkers? One has poultry cell solution and one has organic apple cider vinegar in it. I’ll probably put out a bowl of coconut oil again today, since it is not too soon to give them that again.

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In the meantime, our beloved old dog Deirdre can now stay on her feet for 10-15 minutes at a time post-surgery. She is drinking and eating and trying to spit out pain pills. But she likes the peanut butter I smear on her lips before popping the pills into the back of her mouth.

I keep chants ready in the back of my mind for challenging situations. Sometimes it is “It’s not about me”, sometimes it is ” I don’t give a f@@k”, sometimes it is “Relax your body starting with your toes, then your ankles and all the way up to your head”, sometimes it is “Keep practicing kindness not matter how horrible someone is acting towards you”…

The one in my brain now, as I am making my morning rounds filling water & food containers and checking in on everybody is: “Thank you for not being dead”.

 

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We had a surprise visitor this week on the Farmette – a falcon graced us with her presence. Luckily she was smaller than our free-ranging rooster. He made it safely to the cover of the bushes. Our other chickens, after screeching up a storm, huddled in the nesting boxes of their coops.

I took this pic through the window of our master bedroom;

Hungry falcon on main chicken coop

After flying to the maple tree

Peregrine Falcons are part of the wildlife of North Carolina and help keep nature in balance. If they are persistent and you need to scare them away from a free-ranging flock, firing with a shot gun works. Don’t aim at them. They are protected birds of prey. The noise will be enough. And who would want to harm this magnificent creature?

Surprisingly, the falcon did not attempt to pull our injured chicken from her pen on the ground. It was likely just too close to the house. After the falcon left, I thought of that hen and checked in. She was managing to eat and drink. Mostly, she remained slumped in the corner.

When a chicken damages a leg (especially in two spots), its fate is decided just as that of a horse. If it cannot hold itself off the ground, the earth reaches out to take it back. Splints and wraps did not work.

We had kept her in the garage in a box of pine shavings for a while, but she complained a lot and often called to her buddys outside. She was moved out front and seemed more content, but the inability to roost & groom took its toll. It was time to make a decision.

Euthanasia is an unpleasant but necessary option when injury or disease overpower us. It ends the suffering of a lost cause where the will to survive has managed to lengthen the dying process.

I talked to our son about it. “We need to kill this chicken in order to end her suffering.” Not thinking of my selfish avoidance of being the one to kill her, I continued and said. “Or, should we let the falcon take her for a meal?” He said “NO!” – not wanting to see feathers/leftovers strewn about our property. This also was the smart response, since the falcon would likely come back for more – and more.

After witnessing the botched injection of “eternal sleep potion” for a deathly ill pet at the vet’s office, humane euthanasia, in my mind,  has become “the quickest lethal method”. Blunt force, neck snapping and shooting are all fast and painless when done correctly.

I was still feeling selfish and managed to wrangle my husband into carrying out the unhappy task. I have been the poultry’s grim reaper before and will be again, just not today.

We told her that she was a good, strong girl and stroked her feathers. We told her that her pain would soon be gone.

On a farm, animals are keep in herd or flock form. Cost/practicality are crucial to the survival of a homestead that keeps livestock. Many would argue that a farmer’s methods of destroying livestock is not humane. It is an obvious subject of ethical debate.

My own take is that you do your best to make a choice and live with your decision. We wondered if her death was truly instant. We had to watch our son cry. We must look at the empty cage. And now we go back out to feed and water our beautiful flock.



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This boy was finally caught on his evening roost. I managed to get a few good pics of him this am. Aside from his battle wounds (still healing from his territorial fight), he is a very good looking bird.

The nice thing about Cochins is their mild mannered nature. This guy never tries to skewer (with his spurs) or bite people. Once you catch him, he is a cooperative model.

Bantam Birchen Cochin Roo:

His imitation of a Bald Eagle.

SG Silkie x Bantam Polish Cockerel
(just plain missed getting his pic yesterday)

This young roo has not been plucked nor is he molting. He is actually part of our ugly breeding project.

Chick Magnet!

This growing adolescent is actually quite full of himself. Our lady’s man proclaims to be quite a stud.

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More 2012 Breeders (& Upcoming Stock)

Bantam Ameraucana (Blue Egg) Breeders:

Splash Ameraucana Roo

Splash Ameraucana Pullet:

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FARMETTE 1769 – JUNE 2012
Chicken Pic Parade

Our Bantam Cochin Breeders:

Red Cochin Cockerel:

White Cochin Hen:

Blue Laced Cochin Pullet:

Mille Fleur Cochin Hens:

Birchen Cochin Roo – Who would not be caught for a good pic, so please excuse my photography. Also, this roo is recovering from a run-in with another too. He lost!:

Our Silkie Breeders:

SQ Blue Splash Silkie Roo:

SQ Blue Splash Silkie Hen:

Black Silkie/Polish “Ugly” Hen:

SG Blue Frizzle Silkie Roo:

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This is the first deformed chick that has hatched here on the farmette. I really should not joke and call him a freak. His name will be Chance II since his survival will hang in the balance where eating and drinking are concerned.

The story can be told mostly in pictures. As much as his beak is twisted, he is able to drink. That is good. Food will be a challenge. Instead of having a shallow food bowl, I am going to try one that is deep. It will be filled with chick starter food (fine crumbles).

Chance II is an amazing chick so far. He cracked his way out of his shell with that crossed bill. Maybe it was an advantage and worked like scissors (I really should not joke).

Surprisingly, despite this baby’s special physique, he is strong and healthy. He peeps and runs around behaving just like the other chicks. If you look down in the brooder bin, you really can’t tell that anything is wrong.


I saved the best view for last. This angle shows the left side of his face as normal, but he right side gone a-rye in development. He can see fine out of his left eye. The right one did not form into something usable. I am glad that he is not completely blind.

It was hard to get Chance II to keep still for photos. This is a good thing. Maybe our oddball chick will not only drink, but eat some chick starter food soon. 🙂

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We have tried many different ways to provide fresh water to our fowl. Containers have been purchased at the farm supply stores. Bowls have been made from old pots and buckets.

Either way, there has always been quite a problem with the birds getting their drinking supply dirty. I have been trying to come up with a good, low cost solution that is not too difficult to set up.

I recently discovered that you need to put a little money into a specialized part. Then you can recycle household items (2 liter soda containers, wire/twine) for the rest of the project.

The part was probably, originally designed for use in higher volume PVC pipe type watering systems. If you poke around the net, you will find some information about their use for back yard flock waterers. I purchased a dozen push in watering nipples from Meyer Hatchery’s web site (McMurray Hatchery – similar name but no drinkers for sale).

Large Soda Bottle with Nipple

Getting this together is a bit harder than it looks. You must have a good drill and a bit that is about 23/64″. The hole that you drill needs to be as small as possible so that the nipple fits tightly and does not leak.

The crucial pivot point of my neck is damaged, so I have to commandeer my husband for tasks that require arm strength and pressure derived from the upper body. Even as a really big guy, he struggled to push the nipple (including 1/2 of the rubber washer) through the hole. I may try to find a drill bit that is just a touch wider.

Drilling can be a challenge since the soda bottle cap wants to spin with the drill bit. I have a solution in my head that would make the task easier if one were to make a lot of these drinkers. You need to use a 2″ x 4″ board under the cap to drill through it and not into the floor. But, I think if you were to attach two pieces of wood to this board in a V-like shape, you could slid the cap into the spot where it was snug for drilling.

The next step is to construct something in order to to hang the bottle up at bird head level – so that they can drink comfortably. We drilled a small hole on either side towards the base of each bottle. Wire or rope slides right through the middle and creates a handy hanger when tied or twisted at the ends.

Hanger and Filler Door

You also need a way to fill the bottle up with water. I wanted the watering system to be EASY to manage. Not wanting to have to take the bottles out of the coop, take off the cap, fill and put back, I decided on a hole at the base near the holes for the hanger.

After several tries, I came up with a good solution. A “Fish Mouth” shape was the winner. So that the least amount of contaminants would enter the bottle, a flap was a necessity. It was also important that an average size hose would fit in for filling. I followed the contour of one of the 5 bubbles in the bottle design that make up the standing base. PERFECT!

These were tested before I wrote this Blog entry. They work great! So far, the new drinkers are in the standard chicken, guinea, bantam chicken and quail pens. A few drops of water and shiny steel parts attracted the birds to the nipples. By the next day they were all drinking readily from the hanging pop bottles.

Water in the drinkers lasts several days. You can add a little apple cider vinegar or a drop of bleach to help keep them clean. I am guessing that periodically, the bottles will have to be replaced. The caps with nipples can be re-used over and over again.

Final Product

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