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Everything posted by dislaney

  1. Bottoms are lovely and fluffy and no sign of pecking! Ditto shoulder blades, and backs of heads although Maisie had a few new feathers coming through right near her comb, but not covering any bald patch at all. I have a little bantam Amanda with a bald patch from coming to us from an over-enthusiastic cockerel, so I already know what that looks like! Both girls have a good layers pellet diet and plenty of mealworms every day already. I'll start putting a tonic in their water too, and perhaps put them in with the last two ex-bats who haven't fully refeathered if they need a little boost in a week's time. My money now would be on the cockerel damage because of where the missing feathers are, and because there is no other sign of pecking. Could be wrong - but will keep you posted! Thank you.
  2. I think she did have a cockerel! And having Googled 'cockerel feather damage hens', a lot of the photos look very similar to poor Maisie and Daisy ... But some of the feather loss looks more recent, and I've read that some hens can aggressively mount other hens, so I'll keep an eye on the situation and perhaps separate them for a bit if necessary. I've got some ex-bats refeathering in the garden and didn't want to put Maisie and Daisy in with them if they were feather-pluckers (for obvious reasons!), but it might make sense to put them in with them so they can get the benefits of the ex-bat feed and drink supplements for a bit ... Hmmm! Thanks for your help.
  3. Could they be pecking each other then? Because they came to me like this, and I don't think I have another feather pecker in the group otherwise more hens would be damaged. Or perhaps they were in with a feather pecker before they came to me, and it's just taking time for the damaged feathers to grow out?
  4. Hi all - I recently added two Copper Black Marans Maisie and Daisy to my ever expanding flock of 24 girls. The breeder said that they were around 6 months old and both were laying. They settled in really well with the group, and starting laying little dark eggs straight away. I noticed on arrival that they appeared to have some broken or missing feathers in the 'small of their back', just before the tail feathers which were more fanlike than on my other Cuckoo Marans. I didn't think that this was a problem, and they had been sprayed for 'critters' like all my new girls before adding to the flock. They've now been with me for about 8 weeks, and the feather damage is quite strange. It looks as if all the feathers at the base of the tail along the back are broken off close to the skin, and a few more of the tail feathers are also snapped half way down. Maisie has a damaged wing feather too - it's easy to spot the broken ones as the white of the quill stands out immediately against their lovely black plumage. I can't spot any crawlies on them, there are no missing feathers elsewhere on either of them and the rest of the flock don't have any missing or damaged feathers anywhere. They aren't scratching themselves, or overly attentive on the grooming front. They are in good health, still in lay, and not being bullied as far as I can tell. The flock is in a huge enclosed grass run out in our field. Having said all of that, it also looks as if there is some new feather growth coming through too - fluffy down feathers around the base of the tail, and longer glossy feathers on the middle of the back starting to grow down towards the tail. They are also growing some new feathers on their heads. So I'm really puzzled - they seem too young to be moulting, and the feathers are damaged anyway rather than falling out. Any clues please? Is it a health or breed related issue? Thanks in advance!
  5. Hi all - I've got an eccentric Black Star called Pippa who has the habit of jumping up at my mouth when I least expect it. This morning when bending down to pick up a rogue egg, she launched herself upwards and pecked through my lip which is now fat and bleeding. I'm assuming this isn't malicious as she's a lovely friendly hen who is easy to handle and good in every other way. I wondered if she was attracted to my shiny teeth, as she loves to peck anything bright and sparkly - in which case, I just need to keep my mouth shut when bending down! Or is there something else going on?? Curious, and sore, of Nottinghamshire!
  6. Hi all - a belated update: sadly Angela died at the weekend, despite a further course of antibiotics. Was just about to start her on a course of probiotics but she had a little seizure in the middle of eating her treats on Sunday, then just died. Thanks for your advice - and well done to those of you with older birds still going strong! Pleased to report that my other older bird Claire has come back into lay today though, so hopefully we've managed to turn things round for her with the probiotic ... fingers crossed.
  7. Thanks folks - sounds like Angela is just suffering the ageing process (as are we all!) and perhaps will just take a steady, graceful decline to match the lovely, gentle Bluebelle character that she is. Hope that Claire manages to stay perky now - she was on tremendous form today, although despite all the noise there wasn't an egg again. Maybe tomorrow! Really good to know the life expectancy of hybrids v. pure breeds, Egluntyne - thanks for that.
  8. Morning! Well, Claire is back to normal this morning, strutting her stuff around the hen houses and making lots of 'egg on its way' noises ... what a relief! Angela is still a bit subdued but following the others around and showing interest in everything. The changes in her are more marked as she used to be the lead hen, but seems to have gradually lost status since she stopped laying. She now just seems to keep out of the way of trouble, and doesn't deal very well with being chased by the younger girls. You're right that they're getting on a bit now, Egluntyne - what would be a reasonable life expectancy for a hybrid? And does it differ for pure breeds, as 4 of my other girls are Cuckoo Marans and they seem remarkably vigorous? I'll pop a tonic in the drinker though, it won't hurt.
  9. Hi all - I've now got a mixed flock of 11 hens, and my two oldest birds are Angela (4) and Claire (3). The whole flock has recently had a bacterial infection which was apparently caused (in part) by vermin, so they've been dosed twice with Denaguard as advised by the vet. The 3 younger girls who were visibly affected by the infection are now all fine, but my 2 older ladies seem to be struggling. Angela (no longer laying) looks very subdued, and is half-heartedly pecking at her food. She has ever so slightly mucky knickers still. She goes to bed about 2 hours before the rest. Claire was looking really perky until a couple of days ago, when she passed a soft shelled egg and hasn't laid since. Today she became quieter and quieter, again putting herself to bed really early and looking sorry for herself. I had a feel around and there didn't appear to be an egg stuck anywhere. She has clean knickers. The whole flock has just been moved to a large new free range area in our field, out of the garden enclosure where they've spent the past 3 years. Although they all looked ecstatic when they moved in, I don't know if the stress of the move might have contributed to the older girls' declining health. Your advice would be greatly appreciated - happy to try anything to perk them up. Thanks in advance!
  10. Thanks folks! Following your advice - and after reading other feather pecking threads on this forum - I've ordered absolutely everything: anti-peck sprays, flowers of sulphur etc. Nothing has arrived yet, but meanwhile in desperation I found a pot of Exmarid for dogs that seemed to have many of the ingredients of the other items, particularly sulphur, and it smells like tar, so have smeared that on Karen as an interim measure. Happy to say after 2 days of Exmarid, the feathers are starting to poke through unmolested, and it's very noticeable that the other birds are giving her wing a wide berth. On the not so good side, they're still pecking the back of her neck as more feathers have disappeared, so as soon as the product medley arrives in the post on Monday, will try the different anti-peck sprays and see if that does the trick. Will keep you posted - thanks again!
  11. Hi all - apologies to those of you who have just been through the abscess on the beak saga with me! Another bullying related problem below ... My Warren Karen is bottom of the pecking order in a mixed group of 6 hybrids. She is pecked and bullied by all, rather than any one individual hen. Despite this, she is a lively and relentless bird, making sure she gets plenty of everything that's going, and doesn't back off easily despite the pecking - perhaps one of the reasons why she's a target? She is a good weight, very bright in herself, and is the best layer of enormous pale brown eggs. Anyway, a little while ago I noticed that she had a bit of a bald patch appearing on her right wing, and after inspection found some crawlies that I now know to be lice. Several treatments later, the crawlies have gone but the bald patch on her wing is now about 3 inches in length. The vet told me to purple spray the patch to keep the others off it (done!), put her on Feathersure (done!) and rub Fuciderm cream into the area to encourage the feathers to grow back (done!). I thought at first that Karen was removing her own feathers because of irritation from the lice, but having observed what's going on and see the broken feathers on the back of her neck as well, it's pretty obvious that the cause is the other girls. New feathers start to appear and then the next day they're gone, with the skin look a bit pink and sore. Is separation the only answer now, to give her feathers chance to be restored? I've tried anti-pek spray but none of them seem to realise what it's for ... All advice very gratefully received, as always. Thanks in advance.
  12. Hmmm - that's interesting. I guess it depends on the type of bird then? I have 2 Cuckoo Marans who, quite frankly, can't be bothered to fit through anything, and just like generally dawdling around if they can actually be stirred to get out of bed. I have a separate flock of 6 hybrids comprising a Bluebelle, a Warren, a Light Sussex Hybrid, a Speckledy and 2 Columbines. All much livelier and pretty much into everything - the Warren shot through the large holes in the black Omlet netting at one point, but she was quite a bit smaller then. All the hybrids are quite big girls, but as a I say, into everything. Sounds like the Marans would be the safer bet with the stock fencing, but it's actually the hybrids who could do with room to roam. Dilemma time ...
  13. Thanks both - having a rethink now! Will investigate all things electric - really appreciate your help.
  14. Hi all - how secure is stock fencing to keep chickens contained within a 2 acre paddock? Reason for asking is that I'm thinking of moving our girls out of our garden and into an area of our field, and wondered what the best method of containment would be, given that I'd like them to free range as much as possible. The top part of our field backs on to neighbours gardens, and the bottom to a lane, and I'd like to keep them out of both if I can! At the moment the field boundary is set up to contain donkeys and goats, with a top strand of electric wire attached to stock fencing all around the perimeter. Our barn cats need to be able to exit and enter relatively easily, as they currently just pop through the larger holes of the stock fence about 1/3 of the way up. Am just waiting for a quote back from our fencing chap to look at a couple of options for us: 1. Popping a short chicken wire 'skirt' (say about 15cm) to the bottom of the stock fence, to keep the girls from going through at eye level but enabling the cats to still get in and out; 2. Putting another hot wire down at ground level to deter the hens from approaching the fencing, and still letting kitties etc etc. This would have the added benefit of keep the goats contained if we ever moved them to this bit of the field. What do you think? And are there any other options we could consider? Thanks for your help! P.S. Thought about a separate electric netting system to keep them in an area within the field, but a bit worried that the donks will interfere with it ... but that's another option, I guess?
  15. Very sad news I'm afraid, folks - Louise had to be put to sleep today. It followed a fortnight of ups and downs, where she was eating well and had actually put on weight, but the beak continued to deteriorate every time the scab fell off. I'd arranged for my dentist to get involved in proceedings, following your advice about prosthetics - he's such a nice man, and was very happy to help with the mercy mission, in tandem with our vet. His dental technician came out to the vet surgery this lunchtime today, to take an impression of the beak to build a mould, but when Charlotte the vet excavated the beak from under the scab debris, there was very little left to attach a prosthesis to, and what was left was soft. As Louise was already under the ether, it was the kindest thing to do to put her to sleep. Thanks all for your help, support and advice over the past many weeks - it's meant an awful lot.
  16. Just to say that Louise has had an early evening fix of Baytril/Nutridrops/Metacam/Hibiscrub and Manuka as my husband (who holds her tightly while all this is going on) is away for the night. She'd perked up considerably after about 30 mins, so after a little flash of inspiration I did her some scrambled egg with poultry spice - which she LOVED! Fingers crossed for the morning.
  17. Hello again crazy peeps on the forum! So - Charlotte the vet came yesterday, and Louise was having a good day, having miraculously rallied from the depths on Friday. Still struggling to eat, but much more lively, and enjoying the sunshiny day after the rain. The vet thought it was worth persevering for a little longer, given that we've come so far - she thought that the Metacam would be helping with the pain so we're continuing with that, and she's gone away to talk to colleagues about some kind of wound patch (rather than a prosthetic attachment) that might help Louise to eat without too much discomfort. Louise hasn't lost too much weight, which is amazing given how little she's eaten in comparison to thunderbird Kelly, her roomie. The vet was concerned about the underneath of the beak though, as it looks as though there's some damage under there now. She said that if the beak goes soft then it really is time to say goodbye. So we're sticking with the nighttime cocktail regime for now, and see how it goes for the next couple of days. Today because it's colder and greyer again, Louise has been reluctant to leave her bed and seems a bit more subdued, but she has been pecking away at the tuck box of morning goodies, which can't be a bad thing. Will let you know how we do over the next 48 hours, and also what suggestions come back about wound patching ...
  18. I'd wondered about prosthetics myself, but didn't think it was appropriate to ask! On a bit of a downward spiral again I'm afraid Not sure if it's the colder, wet weather but Louise has been very miserable the past few days, needing a lot of encouragement to eat and struggling to get food into her beak. Was a bit horrified to find a big yellowy/white patch inside the front of her mouth this morning but then realised it didn't smell and was actually a very stuck bit of bread! Think my nerves are shot to pieces ... Charlotte the nice vet is going to visit tomorrow and take a view on whether Louise's quality of life is now so diminished it would be kinder to PTS. I do hope not, but can't stand to see her struggling all the time - albeit with great vigour and determination. Meanwhile I'm adding dog Metcam to her evening cocktail of Baytril and Nutridrops to see if some pain relief makes a difference to her appetite. Will let you know how we get on - thanks for sticking with the saga!
  19. Sadly she'll always have a massive hole on the left side of her beak, as the vet had to remove the portion from her cheek to half way down the beak itself to cut out the abscess. The poultry equivalent of cleft palate, I guess. The front portion of the beak appears to be firmly anchored by the skin and tissue underneath though, so she can still peck and grab, although because the beak is now twisted and deformed, it's a far less accurate instrument than it was before. That's why it's important to keep the front of the beak free from harm, because she wouldn't be able to survive without it. I've been dying to try to pick out some gunk residue that's dried in the front of the beak and built up on one side, but I can't do it in case I cause any more damage, or hurt her. Drinking will always be a challenge because the side of her beak is permanently open, so the full immersion route is the only way to go - big dunks and head right back mean that she gets the majority of water down her throat, although her 'bib' is always soaked as a result! Hence the special needs status, and the necessity of having a very kind companion. Have been very relieved that Kelly isn't too dominant with her, although she gets impatient when Louise can't get a big piece of bread or grape down into her crop and 'helps out' by pinching it off her!
  20. No I haven't - but that's a great idea! Thank you. Been squirting Nutridrops down her for the past couple of nights, to wash away the taste of Baytril, and she seems to really enjoy that. Another bit of scab came away tonight (much smaller this time) and what's underneath is pink and clean and healthy. Just hope that we can get it to be a bit less sore, so she can eat better ... Will try the Manuka and report back!
  21. Hi everyone - just reporting in to let you know how Louise is doing. She's still with us, but oh my word - what an emotional rollercoaster! Just when things were looking up, and her last really big scab dropped off, she decided to give up eating as it hurt her too much. Ironically the scab had been enabling her to eat reasonably normally, and as soon as the still raw wound was exposed, she went on strike. Much coaxing with soft bread and shredded grapes has therefore ensued - not the most balanced diet, but it was a choice of that or watching her fade away. I also popped big Cuckoo Maran Kelly in the isolation wing with her, to see if it would perk up her spirits as Louise was clearly depressed. Had my fingers tightly crossed that she wouldn't get bullied again, but Kelly has been really good with her, and a bit of competition for the grapes and bread has been beneficial in encouraging Louise to eat. Kelly has now decided to moult in a hurry, so they look a great pair of misfits in there together! Louise's wound now looks the best it's ever been - just a teeny tiny bit of infection left at the corner of her mouth, nothing down her throat or what's left of her beak. The vet visited last Friday and said just to carry on doing what we've been doing - Baytril and bathing every evening to keep it clean, because if the lower part of her beak goes bad then that's it. So apologies for the long silence - have felt very weary and low at some points in all of this, particularly when it's looked like PTS was going to be the best option, but have felt very encouraged by your support, and also by Louise's miraculous ability to keep coming back from the brink. As a cat, she'd definitely be on her last life ...
  22. Thanks for the Hibiscrub ratio, Dogmother - applied it tonight so let's see how she does tomorrow. Had come to the Option 1 result myself this evening, Tweety - having spent the majority of tonight in the field in the rain trying to coax our new rescue goat into one of the shelters with the others, who were having none of it! Decided that I might end up in an early grave if I'm having to chase/catch/medicate naughty hens in the field in winter too - much better to have them closer to hand, and in my eyeline, in the garden. And as you say, less disruptive all round for my existing ladies. Visions of them riding goats floated past my eyes at one point ... Perhaps next year for more free range hen adventures, when I've recovered from the stresses and strains of this year's events! One of our other rescue pygmy goats might be pregnant, so am holding my breath on that for the time being
  23. I've been thinking that this egg has come from Karen, my only Warren - and she's had some kind of viral sniffling thing (no nasal discharge though) for a while, so that would fit with the article findings. The vet said if it didn't clear up then she'd prescribe Tylan for her. But the egg could possibly be from one of my new birds Kelly, a Cuckoo Maran, who I thought hadn't laid at all yet owing to the poor state she was in when she arrived ... haven't yet found her in or emerging from the nest box, although that doesn't mean she hasn't sneaked in there when I'm not looking! It's definitely not a pigment loss though - the egg is still solidly brown underneath, it's just got this cloudy/chalky film evenly applied on top. Curious! Thanks folks.
  24. One of our girls keeps laying a dark-ish brown egg with what looks like a sealed white coating over the top, with the finished effect being a dusky plum colour. If I wet the egg, the brown shows through and looks perfectly normal, but as soon as the egg dries, it goes back to the white coating again. Not a problem, but just curious what might be causing this? Thanks!

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