So much has happened here in the past few days. The chicks we hatched are now 3+ weeks old. They are feathering out nicely and I am starting to see signs on some of the cockerels. Their combs are getting bigger and are just starting to have some pinkish color. Time will tell for sure, and in another few weeks I should be able to easily sort out who is roo and who is hen.
I was hungering for some more pullets (girls) so last week I went to Tractor Supply and got six more chicks. The woman there claimed to know how to sex them, and since I didn’t know how to do it, I trusted her. Again, time will tell. I purchased four Dark Brahmas and two Silkie Bantams. The Brahmas will be darker versions of Mary and Laura (really just Mary, as Laura died last year). The silkies are for fun. As I stood in the store looking up Brahmas on my iPhone, I came across an article written by my late grandfather Fred Jeffrey that referenced a sure-fire way to sex day old buff Brahmas. I wish I could have called him and asked him if it worked for dark Brahmas too. Well, that ship has sailed.
Laura, our deceased Buff Brahma:
After I put the new chicks in the brooder coop, chaos ensued. It wasn’t unexpected, as chickens are well known for pecking at newcomers. Some aggressive chickens will even peck the newcomers to death. One of our chicks, who is inappropriately named “Sunshine” as she is a terror with all other chickens, started pecking the silkies and wouldn’t stop. Another chick stepped in to defend them. The next thing I knew, the protective chick had an injured leg.
The injured leg was twisted out to the side. She was not putting any weight on it. Her hock was swollen. The first thing I did was put her in a box in the house to keep her safe from the other chicks. I added the two silkies to the box, partly because they needed some time away from Sunshine, partly because the injured chick needed company. Then I thought about how hard it would be to reintroduce the three of them to the group again, and I added a rooster to the box. Roosters are pains in the you-know-what as they get older, but as chicks, roosters are great. They keep the peace, they guard the front door of the coop, and they tell everyone what to do. I love having roosters in the brooder coop. It means I can sleep at night.
As all things go around here, I had a situation to deal with and I was going to do it thoroughly and in the correct manner. The next morning we all woke up and I announced to Jeff that we would be building a little cage to fit inside the brooder coop for the injured chick. I was concerned that keeping the chicks in the house carried too many issues such as 1) it is messy and dusty; and 2) re-integration would be very difficult, even with the rooster around to help them. Of course it was Jeff’s birthday, but being the great guy he is, he built me a cage that fit inside the coop. The sides are made of chicken wire, and the top has a lid so I can lift the chick in and out as needed. All the other chicks can look in and see her. They can even stick their heads in, and she can stick her head out. I feel like it works well for all of them. She gets to see them and have some company, and they feel as though she is still a part of the family.
The injury happened over the weekend. By Monday she was still limping, still swollen, and not any better. I did my online research, as well as my usual phone calls to as many people I knew, and I asked everyone I saw on Sunday if they could help. No one could. I awoke on Monday feeling that I needed some professional guidance. I contacted an avian veterinarian and brought her in to be seen. The vet gave me antibiotics and anti inflammatory meds, and wrapped the leg. She didn’t know if it was broken or not, only that there was a lot of swelling. An x-ray would shed some light on it, but I wasn’t consenting to an x-ray for my chicken. I’m a softie, but I’m not that bad. These are livestock.
Fast forward to today. The chick now has a name (thank you mom for suggesting it!). We’ll call her Peg when we speak of her, and I’m sure when we speak to her, her name will morph into something multi-syllabic like Peggy Leggy. All of our animals have short names when we refer to them, but if you listen in on our conversations with them (and we do carry on a number of conversations with our animals every day), you’ll hear us call them Coco Loco, Gracie Wacie, Ticky Licky, Blue Blue, Fae Fae, Fuzzy Wuzzy… and the list goes on.
Peg woke up this morning with a swollen foot, so I removed the bandage. I know nothing about medical care, but my gut said that the swollen foot meant the wound was still too swollen to be wrapped. And if the wound is swollen, it’s happening for a reason. Her foot was a darker color than the other, telling me that it has some extra blood/fluid in it. I left the leg unbandaged for the day and will re-bandage if warranted tomorrow.
I will keep you posted!
Here are photos of the new coop. It will have wheels and a detachable run so the chicks can go outside. This coop is meant to be used as a chick brooder, an infirmary for sick chickens, and as an agricultural tool when we want to concentrate the chicken activity in one area.
I have learned so much about chicken coop design in the past few years. You will notice that this one has a few nice features. Most importantly, the ramp leading up to the nest boxes does not require chickens to walk through the roosting area. This means they don’t step in poop and get the eggs dirty in the nest box. Also, the food and water are going to go on the left side, where the emergency cage is currently sitting. That side will be near the outside door for the chickens, as well as near the ramp to the nest boxes. The roosts are low to the ground, which means they can be easily reached by chicks and sick chickens. The roof is made of a clear material, allowing sunshine to penetrate, which I think makes for happier, healthier chickens. And the big doors on the side allow me to get in and reach all corners of the coop.
I will keep you updated on Peg’s progress. Have a great night!