Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birds of a feather

Fascinating feathers

Yup, it's time for another post on the chickens of Boulderneigh, those hardworkin' (or hardly workin') gals who provide us and a select few customers with beautiful, tasty eggs.

Lucy2 (Lucy) is low hen on the totem pole, as evidenced by her pecked head and comb. I watch to make sure it doesn't escalate into real injury, and she seems to recognize me as her shelter and solace. Almost every morning when I open the henhouse door, everybody runs out to see what there may be to eat in the run. Lucy takes this chance to gobble food and water in the henhouse unmolested, so I shut the door again while I do chores so she can get her fill. One morning at the end of chores I opened the door again and she was quickly chased out by Tawnie. I bent over and talked to her soothingly and she looked me intently in the eye - seriously! After I left the chicken yard I looked back to make sure she was okay, and she looked at me, looked at the top of the chain-link fence, looked at me, looked at the top of the fence - and then tried to fly over the spot closest to me! I went back in and picked her up, stroking her feathers and talking to her. She never struggled to get down, seeming to enjoy the protection and sympathy.I've identified her eggs, now that I've caught her laying one; here are eggs from her (right) and Lucille (left), our two Red sex-link refugees from the neighbor's:
Lucille is still in her "hospital ward," which is desperately in need of cleaning. Her head feathers are growing back, she eats and drinks a LOT and lays our biggest eggs more consistently than any of the others, but her limp hasn't improved. I can't keep her in isolation forever, but if I put a hobbling chicken back with the flock, she will probably be brutalized again. Rick thinks she should be put down if she's not going to be able to integrate, but that seems a senseless waste. Any suggestions?

Whose are you?

Welsie appears to be molting, which could explain her drop in production. None of the others are looking bedraggled, but I am seeing more feathers in the coop and yard so it may just be a matter of time before more look like they are running around in just their undies.

Brian's favorite chicken has always been Morgan, the grey Easter Egger. Here he is trying to give her some grass, and getting frustrated at the other hens for snatching it away. I thought Morgan was a gentle spirit until I saw her attack Lucy a couple times. I suspect she is second to last on the totem pole and is just taking advantage of the fact that there is now a lower-ranking hen.

To end on a different note - or should I say covering:
That's it for now at . . .

11 comments:

Christine said...

Don't you just love their feathers. I could just sit and look at my birds forever. They are so gorgeous.

What exactly is wrong with the limping one and how badly does she limp? I have one that had a bad case of bumblefoot and now walks with a bit of a limp. Nobody bothers her because of it.

Tammy said...

Hi Michelle,
I would check for bumblefoot too, as Christine mentioned. If you look on the fleshy pad of the middle of the foot and toes, and make sure there are no black spots. They can vary in size and are evidently quite painful. Once removed they can recover, but many walk with a slight limp forever. I have one hen who has some real issues with limping and she is not unduly bothered by the others. Also Sue who I put back in with them last summer after Eddie died, had a very hard time for quite some time, but she is now right in there with the rest at feeding time. I guess it just depends on how much time you want to spend with a chicken hospital ward. :-) I'm sure around here, that she wouldn't be put down unless she was truley in pain, not just discomfort.
Good luck! Beautiful hens! Another thing you might try is when you put Lucille back with the others, you might section off a space for her and Lucy2 and put them together as a flock for a week or two, then intro. them back in to the rest of the flock at the same time. But I would make the pen within their regular pen so the others don't 'forget' about them.
Tammy

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Thanks ladies, I will have to check for bumblefoot. Initially she had a broken toe, and have been told she could limp forever from that. Perhaps my relatively small chicken yard contributes to the conflicts?

Rayna said...

In theory, the other hens should eventually accept her back(not without some bloodshed though), even with the limp. I guess being I don't have a coop though, that could make a difference, all our birds are free rangers. I'd at least try to find her a home before you put her down though, I'm sure there's someone out there who has the room for a bum chicken who lays beautiful eggs! :)

The feather pictures are beautiful! I love feathers...always have. Loved to collect 'em when I was a kid. I'd still like to get my hands on some grey peacock pheasant feathers, and some Cape Barren goose feathers :)

Shula said...

What lovely looking chickens. I love looking at the different feathers on my birds. My rooster Annabelle has a bad leg, I think he arrived as a chick with it broken and it never healed. So far we have only had one bad incident when he fell out of the coop and hurt his good foot. But he is back to normally now and everyone is very nice to him. Good luck with Lucille, I hope she is back in the flock peacefully soon.

wendyu said...

I know nothing about hens, sheep or half the things you do but I sure do enjoy reading your blog. It's very interesting. I do have friends that have hens - one friend in particular enjoys getting some very interesting looking hens. I enjoy seeing them every time I go to her home. I had no idea there were so many really cool looking hens!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Why, thank-you, Wendy! I enjoy your blog, too. I've thought about starting a dressage blog for a long time, and the idea has gotten pushy again. Stay tuned for an actual horse-related blog soon, and a chance to weigh in on whether I should.

Kara said...

I have one that limps due to a broken toe and they do hold it against her. She got it caught the first time my DH tried to move their chicken tractor and never fully recovered. I think I told you before, they eat her egg everyday and usually leave all the other eggs alone. I think my tractor is too small even though we move it frequently. I guess I guess I have more building projects for my honey do list. Love all the different feathers.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Sounds like you have your basic and your typical house chicken ;-)

Jody Blue said...

very fun post

Leigh said...

Wonderful photographs. I've had chickens on my mind lately (among other things *LOL)