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Posts posted by sarkymite

  1. ... when surveyed... hahaha :lol:


    No seriously though, bit of a breakthrough here tonight! Ive been "running" bestime like an army sargeant in the coop, caredullt marshling chickens so that the newbies go to bed first (and theyve had freedom to do so wothout getting hen pecked etc)and the oldies have no choice but to quietly join them when I allow it. This was because the big girls were being very over-possessive about the Eglu. Its worked really well.


    Tonight however I have, ahem, had that Friday feeling and might have got rather sidetracked in front of Gardeners World with a glass (ok, two!) of something chilled and sparkling. So I was a few minutes late out on chicken marshalling duty.


    And I found baby Nova has for the first time managed to get accepted into the coop at bedtime all by herself. 3 out of 4 chickens have put themselves to bed with no fuss :dance:


    Nancy was in the cat basket so I had to post her in through the egg port, but hey ho... we'll pretend we didn't see that... :whistle:

  2. I couldnn't resist a peek in at mine either and tonight all 4 of them are trying to sleep in exactly the same spot. Which happens to be the nest. There's just this huge floofy mass of tail feathers in 4 different colours. These are the same birds who studiously avoided each other all day... Silly birds :roll:

    I'm letting it slide for now on the basis that they've got enough to think about this week but if they don't sort it out I'll have to start putting a flowerpot over the nest at night I think.

  3. Sounds like peace may have been declared :D They're always horrible creatures to newbies, but it does wear off - and when you get you're next newbies, the current mob will gang up together against them :roll:


    I agree with Olly re taking eggs but not apologising up front. I had to listen to next door's children screaming all Easter weekend (and I do mean screaming) and they haven't given me any eggs :shock::lol: (and before anyone asks, yes, I do still ensure the screams are in play and not in pain, even though the girls are now aged about 10 and 8 and have been screaming since birth :shh::shh::shh:)


    Yes, I've rethought the apologies plan so thanks both for your thoughts. We've got screamers next door one side too (young children) and yappy/barky dogs in 2 of the 4 other gardens that border ours. We should probably all be giving each other eggs... :roll::lol:


    Not so sure that peace has entirely been declared as yet. There have clearly been skirmishes while we were out at work: one of the food stations had somehow been tipped and scattered everywhere, as had the additional water supply which was in a large plastic bowl for want of anything more suitable. The two pairs are still avoiding one another. But using the same technique as yesterday, they did all go to bed without a fuss again so that's something.


    We're getting an adorable little collection of dinky little pullet eggs too, they're just so cute. I don't remember our original ones laying consistently tiny eggs when they were new. I know they laid some variable ones and I remember getting an occasional tiny one, but this unbroken run of absolutely perfectly formed eggs-in-miniature is a new one on me! !egg!

  4. the noise - it probably wasn't as bad as you think.


    Gosh I hope so. It sounded pretty horrendous from inside our bedroom at stupid o clock in the morning, I have to say. But maybe it was worse to me because I was on edge waiting/listening for it, and maybe it was louder in our garden than anywhere else, as it will have echoed straight up to our house whereas it had to travel through fences and trees etc everywhere else. I saw one of the neighbours today and said hi and he didn't mention anything. Fingers crossed!!

  5. Haha oh dear it seems I'm basically writing an introductions diary here! Sorry!!


    This morning I am back at work. After last night's peaceful bedtime I waited indoors this morn to see what they'd do. Either it was all peaceful or I was exhausfed rnlugh to have slept through it - far as i'm aware there wasnt a peep from them until 7.20, which is considerably better than 5.50!!


    When I popped down to check at 7.05 (as they were so quiet I thought maybe there was something wrong!) I found they were self-segregated into 2 teams but basically letting one another alone. The noise started about 15 mins later and as far as I can work out it was all about moving around so that Petula could get in a nest box. Wilma has gone after the babies once or twice while I was watching but they seem to sort it pretty quick - it's not epic violence. She runs at them and they hop out of her way. For the most part they're choosing to maintain a healthy distance from the biggies where they can.


    So.... I've left them all loose in the entire run, no dividers, for the day while I'm at work. I've added a third drinking and feeding station up on the shelf just in case anyone gets "trapped" up there. When I left Petula had worked out the shelf and was using the nest up there which isn't what I had planned at all, but the two littlies were also up there and seemingly oblivious to her and vice versa. Im just hoping there aren't too many swearing episodes during the day. I'm thinking of taking the neighbours some eggs and apologising for the noise over the Easter weekend as a pre-emptive measure. Would that be an ok thing to do?

  6. So when they're all shut in the run the babies stay up high and out of the way. Which is a pity because we almost had "normal" while free ranging today.

    However... this evening I swapped them around in the run so just before dusk babies were popped in the Eglu run and divider closed for half an hour. They put themselves to bed and then I went back up to let the biggies in, and in they went without any fuss at all! So they are getting used to bedding down all together even if nothing else...!

  7. I haven't divided them up this morning. I scattered mealworms at 6am which occupied them for a while but we've had on/off bouts of swearing and screeching since about 6.40. I'm afraid I've just left them to it this morning to see what occurs.

    I will let them all out for free range time shortly...

    This is much more stressful than I thought it would be, primarily because I'm terrified about upsetting the neighbours!

  8. We spent most of the morning today "redeveloping" the WIR. It now has a shelf along the back which acts as a 2nd floor, a second high perch, a sand pit and a cat basket (this is one of the carriers we use when we need to transport the chickens; it's been in use as a 2nd nest/bolthole since we brought the newbies home). We spread new chippings all over the ground and moved the feeders and drinkers around.


    This had two desired effects:

    1) it gave the littlies somewhere to hide / escape up high and

    2) it confused the heck out of Petula!


    While we were doing all this I also spent the entire morning chasing Petula away from treats etc (think like a chicken...) to give her a taste of her own medicine. She started to get the message I think. We allowed the littlies to stay in the WIR while we worked and they were very interested in it all. We kept the biggies out until it was completely finished.


    When the run was done We spread loads of treats (mealworms, corn, etc) and shut them all in together. Petula drew an imaginary line across the middle of the run and seemed terrified of crossing it whilst the two littlies stayed the other side of said "line" and/or up high. Petula couldn't work out how to get up to the shelf, though she did try. We then had a very peaceful afternoon. Both littlies ventured down and out of comfort zone at times and there were some minor skirmishes but nothing huge.


    I went down at dusk to find Nova (the black n gold baby) standing patiently outside the Eglu attempting to go to bed bless her. They weren't letting her in though. I stood and watched for a while to see how it would pan out and ultimately she hopped back up to the shelf and put herself in the cat basket with Nancy (the cream baby). Nancy clearly hadn't tried to get in the Eglu. So I shut Eglu door and popped them both in the egg port again. Will reopen Eglu door before I turn in and am expecting another 6am alarm call in the morning.


    The only thing worrying me at the moment is whether Nancy has had enough water today as she's spent so much time staying well out of the way. There are two drinking stations in the run at the moment, I'm thinking of adding a third up on the shelf.


    Although the big girls behaviour appears vicious and Nancy is clearly very intimidated by them (but she's the least mature, being a few weeks off coming into lay I think) , we've had only very minimal feather loss and no blood drawn despite it feeling like a pretty intensive 3 days. We've also had a daily egg from Nova so she can't be too stressed, and 4 eggs from the biggies which over 3 days between them is actually pretty good going these days. I'm hoping that means it's going ok. If we have excessive misbehaviour in the morning I might fit a bumpa bit to Petula just for the remainder of the week as I'm back at work on Wednesday and therefore not on hand to supervise and I feel like segregation would be going backwards again at this point in the game... any thlughts on the bumpa bit idea much appreciated - i havent used one before.


    Egg of the chocolate variety for me now and then an early night!!!!

  9. It's Petula who has the most to gain from this intro. She is now bottom chicken, but can have two other below her if she is dominant enough! And clearly she saw the opportunity too.


    Hope you had a nice shower before you tucked back in with your hubby! :lol:


    Yeah I was guessing it must be that. She sees an opportunity to be deputy head so she's really anxious to assert herself. I wish she's stop. Or at least lose her voice! She's so so so noisy!! How many days would they normally actively seek out and target the newbies for? I.e. at what stage does it turn from normal to problem aggression? She's cross this morning and doing her nut trying to get through the divider.


    I changed my pjs... Does that count? :lol::lol::lol:

  10. Next time do introductions whilst boarding your chickens. That's what I did and it was fast and very stress free (for me that is!).

    As they are on neutral turf, you have little to no fighting and they will just figure out the pecking order. And best of all: no noise! :wink:


    LOVE this idea! :lol: Definitely one to keep in mind for next time!

  11. Well my alarm didn't go off this morning but I needn't have worried as I was awken at precisely 6am by a commotion in the chicken coop. So I hot footed it down the garden to do the divider. Though there is still chasing and pinning going on the babies seem bolder and less concerned about it this morning. I suppose if they eventually stop reacting that might help Petula stop doing it?!

    Anyhoo divider in and me back to bed again. As I spent half the night awake planning a run-redesign for the interior of the WIR, I hope it's stopped raining when i get up again :lol:

    By the way... How strong is the Eglu classic run?! I just tripped and landed on it full body weight and did a rather undignified roll/splits combo onto the grass off it, but it just wobbled up and down a bit! I got soaked and covered in fresh pigeon guano that was on the run cover, but the run is fine :clap:

  12. After a very long day I've just got back and OH tells me things haven't been great today. Chasing/pecking and ganging up has increased today. So I think it'll be another 5.50am start for me :roll:

    I wonder why it's our normally more submissive chicken that's being the aggressor and I wonder how long before they can be safely left all in the same run. We go back to work on Wednesday and it'd be nice not to have the divider in the run by then...

  13. All good this morning. I got up at 5.50 (!!!!! :shock: ) in anticipation of more noise thinking I'd scatter some oats and corn, split them up and hope the neighbours weren't woken on Easter Sunday. Went down garden to find big girls up and on the outside perch gently chirping, one little one standing sleepily nearby also chirping quietly and the last one still in bed. I put the divider in place anyway and went back to bed and we haven't had a peep from them until now (I'm still in bed Haha!) and what I've just heard sounds more like an egg announcement than anything to worry about. I'm off for the day to visit family so OH and SD2 will be in charge, they will free range them all together later and hopefully things will continue to go well. We'll all be keeping a close eye for that foxy though!

    I can now officially use all 4 chicken emoji as we have (roughly speaking) one of each colour! GNR(Bluebelle)PP(white chicken):lol:

  14. After losing Hen tlwards the end of last year we started thinking of adding new chickens to our remaining flock of two. We've taken our time over the preparations, extending the WIR, fencing off a 30 foot section of the garden so they can't trash the flowers/ get under next doors fence, etc. Ultimately as we were in a higher risk area for bird flu we also ended up waiting until yesterday as didn't want to be in a situation where introductions had to be made in a confined space. So yesterday we got our new chickens! Two 17 week old pullets, both hybrids, one a black n gold job and the other a creamy one. The black n gold was literally ready to start laying but we were warned the cream type take longer to mature and she may not lay until about 22 weeks.

    We had previously taken lot of advice from the lady who boards our chooks when we go away, she seems v v knowledgeable, though not all her advice accords exactly with what we've read online. We also took advice from the place we got the new birds from.

    So, new birds home yesterday late morning and straight in the Elgu, door shut, for an hour and then let out into the small run (this now forms a tunnel to the big run, we blocked off the end so they were fully separated). The older ladies freeranging. Petula, the "sub" of our existing flock came straight over, puffed, displayed, angry and vocal and spent a while trying to get at them through the bars but then it all settled. Wilma, our "boss", paid them almost no attention. We then let them have the run of the whole run with the older girls shut out in the garden for a couple of hours and then let them meet and it went ok other than quite a lot of loud squarking from Petula. So on our very experienced chicken sitters advice (which is contrary to the advice online but we've never done this before so just working out what works and decided to go with her no nonsense approach!) we popped them all inside the Eglu once the big girls were drowsy and they all went to sleep with no fuss. I opened the Eglu door before I turned in so that they could get up when they liked this mornong. Tbh we never have it closed unless it's really cold as it's enclosed with the run so pretty secure (I hope!) ... Result! ...

    Until 6.04 this morning. Sweet heavens above I have never before been woken by such an unholy racket! It wasn't chickens fighting sound, just one very, very angry and indignant bird. So I blearily trundled down the garden in pjs and wellies to find baby girls still drowsy in the coop, Wilma having breakfast, and Petula up on the outside perch (in the WIR) swearing herself blue in the face at next doors cat who was sat watching her. :wall:

    Anyhoo... I shooed off the cat and dropped down the divider so the babies (when they eventually got up) would be separate from the biggies, had stern words with Petula that might have involved something about soup, and went back to bed. That chicken didn't stop bokking and screeching for a full 45 minutes. It echoed. It will have woken the entire neighbourhood. Ugh.

    Anyhoo... I got up again at 8, took the birds some treats intending to open up the divider and supervise but I found one of the new babies in the nest so left it a while longer. Went back out at 9.30 and she's still on the nest but looking a tad confused so I felt around under her and she has laid a teensy tiny lovely little egg!! Awww !egg!PP:D

    So then over the next hour I had the babies in the run, oldies freeranging until Petula practically has her legs crossed wanting the nest (she shunned my temp nestbox I have made for the introductory period haha). So I took the plunge and let them all out to freerange.

    Things went basically ok. Petula Went to sit in the nest for a while and whilst she was out of the picture the other 3 got on just fine. After that Petula has chased the babies a bit and has jumped on their backs if she's managed to corner them, there have been a few episodes of loud and pointless bokking and squarking, but overall it's been ok. I have sat outside with them almost all day though.

    Towards late afternoon something went awry. Petula went for the less mature newbie who (despite being clipped!) scaled the fence and spent the next hour on the patio with us. Then Petula and Wilma did a tag team attack on the other newbie, cornering her and both getting on her back. My OH shooed them off and we put both new girls back in the small run with Eglu access and dropped the divider down again, shutting the big girls in the main run as we needed to go inside. Stayed that way til dusk, babies had put themselves to bed and biggies wanted in to the eglu. I tried opening the divider. Petula clearly wasn't ready for bed yet as she went into the Eglu and dominated both babies pretty heavily but then walked out again so I shut the Eglu door and left them another 20 mins until it was pretty dark, then reopened it to let biggies in to bed where they settled with no fuss at all. All 4 peacefully sleeping. I went out 45 mins ago to check and all good but I do freak myself out going up the garden in the dark and was convinced I could see a pair of eyes reflected in my torch off at the boundary hedge. I put it out of my mind but then 10 mins later OH came in from a trip to get milk and said there's a fox prowling out the front. Eek! :shock: let's hope the Omlet runs are as fox proof as they claim. This is the first fox we've seen since moving here in October.

    So it's all go here... what's the betting I will be having a very early start again tomorrow? :roll:

  15. :wall: I've got a new problem. Losing Hen, who was very much the lowest ranking chicken, as somehow really upset the pecking order. How it can be "upset" with only 2 birds I don't know, you'd think we'd just have a boss and a minion.

    Wilma has always been the boss. She's still the boss but for some reason feeling the need to be extra mean to poor Petula. Petula is very timid and I guess she must have taken confidence from having Hen around in the past

    she is now so frightened of Wilma that she's getting well out of the way with alarm noises whenever they are anywhere near each other, whether Wilma is after her or not. I've watched Wilma for a lengthy period yesterday as I was home. She is going for Petula and trying to feather pull. :evil: In the evening she's making a fuss about letting Petula in to the eglu and during the day Petula is hiding in the eglu and Wilma is going for her if she tries to come out. When I stand in the run she is more confident and comes out but stays behind me with my legs forming a barrier!!

    I am worried she isn't getting access to food and water.


    I think tomorrow I'll shut the eglu so neither of them can get in it for a bit and keep a close eye on things and see if we can get them to sort it out. Meanwhile I've stationed temporary alternative feed/drink stations close to the eglu door as I can't be there to police things today.

  16. Thanks. Glad we did find this vet, had no idea there was an avian specialist hiding away so nearby. It's quite a new vet surgery so I guess that's why we weren't aware of this guy. We've kept their phone number for future use!


    Even though he said the other two are perfectly healthy I'm in mega paranoid mode, making sure I do everything perfectly for them, and checking on them loads. When I got in from work tonight I went down the garden to check them and accidentally woke them with my torch. Of course they both thought it was "midnight feast" time and came out for snacks and drinkies so muggins here stood there in the cold for 20 minutes providing torchlight for their snacking antics until they both decided to go back to bed :lol::roll:


    And the whole time I'm stood there I'm studying their combs trying to decide by torchlight if they're the right colour (impossible to tell :roll:) and trying to catch them pooping to see the quality of their poop. Honestly chickens will send me permanently round the bend one of these days... :shock:

  17. Bit of an epic day...

    I phoned my usual vets at 11am and they said the only vet with any avian knowledge is away and they wouldn't give me an appointment.

    They suggested I phone Swindon Exotics. So I did. Spoke to a lovely avian vet there who agreed with me that driving for over an hour to see him with a critically ill bird wasn't in the bird's best interests. He said I should phone the local vet again, get them to see her and he would telephone consult with them if needed.

    I phoned the local vet again and they flatly refused to give me an appointment. So I phoned the next nearest place that's open on Sundays and the lady there was much more helpful, took my number and went off to speak to their vets to see if they could help. When she rang me back she said they couldn't help but she'd phoned their other branch for me and they luckily happened to have an avian specialist vet on duty today so they'd reserved me a slot.

    It was still a half hour drive but our birds are used to short rides as we board them several times a year so not too stressful. Took all 3 down to get checked out.


    So, the good news is the vet didn't think it was a virus, bacteria, or parasites though he said I was doing the right thing worming just in case. Her presentation didn't seem to quite match any of the diseases we'd normally need to be on the lookout for. He pronounced the other two perfectly healthy and very well looked after. And they gave him the run around as he put them on the floor in the surgery to see their walking and then they wouldn't be caught.


    The bad news is he didn't think anything could be done for Hen. She had deteriorated a fair bit this morning, had stopped drinking and eating and was very weak. He said her circulation seemed very poor indeed, and after a thorough examination, he thought she had heart failure. He thought it was more likely it was just her time rather than a specific disease given the other two seemed so healthy. As she has always been a scrawny and sorta fragile-seeming little bird, I wouldn't be surprised if she's just got elderly faster than the others, in the same way that some people arent so long lived as others. He said he thought she wasn't going to last more than another day and whilst she didn't seem in any pain, she clearly wasnt having any quality of life. So we did the kindest thing and PTS.


    So, instructions are to just keep an eye on the other two and phone him if anything worries us but he thought they were in very rude health (and both obliged him with loud squaks of indignation at being examined and extremely healthy looking poo all over the surgery floor!) and other than not being in the first flush of youth anymore, he thought there was nothing to worry about. Fingers crossed that he's right and they continue to be OK...

  18. Thanks all.


    Dogmother, regarding the wild game, we never had this problem before we moved, first time in my life I've ever had pheasant visiting my back garden! Other than keeping the chooks permanently in the run (which obviously we are at the moment anyway) is there anything we can do to discourage the pheasant from visiting? I can't police the garden at all times and the chickens do love a good free range.


    Re the run just to be clear it is cleaned thoroughly, regularly, and until we moved they were on wood chips which I changed/replenished several times a year. I scatter diatomaceous earth weekly. Since we moved they've been on grass a)because they seemed to love it and b)because I simply haven't had a chance to order wood chips. I'm not used to keeping them on grass and it may be I should have moved the run sooner rather than having it in the same place for 2 months. I've still been using the diatomaceous earth. This week is the first time the run/eglu has smelled like this! It was part covered before (and I used to find that a good rain washed the wood chips nicely but clearly that isn't the way it works on grass).


    I think I'm going to go back to wood chip as soon as I can get it organised. But anyway it's been moved to fresh grass for now.


    Hen seems much the same this morning. I'm going to call the vet when they open at 11 and see what they suggest.

  19. Hi everyone, very long time since I last posted anything, I don't get online much and our chickens have been a delight for the last couple of years.


    We suddenly have a poorly chicken - I have no idea what might be wrong as the symptoms don't seem to quite match anything I've found online.




    Henrietta ("Hen") is 2.5 years old and has always been a little bit scrawny and bedraggled-looking compared to her friends. She lives with 2 others who are the same age.

    Since August this year we've had gradually decreasing egg production in all of them, seeming to be in line with their age - dropped from 3 a day to 2 a day and then down to one or less. We moved house at the end of September and in our new garden I've noticed we have an occasional visitor of a wild female pheasant. In October the chickens spent a week at the chicken-hotel where they will have been in fairly close quarters with other birds. They stopped laying completely that week, went into moult immediately after we got them back, they all had a really full-on moult this year, and are just about looking back to normal feather-wise now, though we haven't had a single egg since mid-October. During her moult Hen looked a bit thin but that's often the case when moulting. I've been supplementing their pellets with the odd handfuls of mealworms and cat biscuits for some extra protein.


    I've mentioned the pheasant, the week boarding and the moult as they are factors that have occurred to me as possible causes of / relevant to the current problem.


    I haven't seen the chickens in daylight this week until today due to my working hours. My OH has been checking on them in daylight and I've been doing feed top-ups, replenishing water etc in the dark at night. My OH says he hadn't spotted anything amiss about the chickens this week though he did think the Eglu/run was a bit smelly towards the end of the week.




    Today Hen looks quite under the weather. Her feathers are a bit ruffled and dull, her comb is very pale and seems to have regressed somewhat, and she's not been very interested in much. She has appeared a little off balance once or twice - as if she's lost her balance, causing her to put a wing out to steady herself - I spotted that happening twice this afternoon. Some of the time she's had her head sort of back and slightly twisted to the side - don't know if I'm explaining it well - it was causing her front to stick out looking like she had a full crop so I've physically examined her and in fact her crop feels pretty empty, though I have seen her eat a little (and she did come running when the mealworm bag was shaken!). She feels skinny but not emaciated. I haven't seen her poop - did try to catch her at it but unsuccessful.


    She's not really "herself" - she usually "helps" (= causes absolute mayhem) when I'm cleaning out but today though she came over and stood by my feet whilst I was putting stuff back in, and had a little peck/explore of the new bedding, she just didn't seem to have much energy.


    She is not in any respiratory distress and does not appear to have any nasal discharge or eye gunk. The eglu and run did smell pretty rank today - like a stronger than normal chicken poop smell but also slightly fishy/sour. But I'm convinced none of them have sour crop or impacted crop - I checked all 3 of them carefully.


    Of her two friends, one seems fine and the other has a pale comb and runny poop (but for that particular bird, runny poop has been a norm for much of her life).




    * They can no longer come into contact with the wild pheasant because we've "wild bird proofed" the entire enclosure in line with DEFRA requirements due to the current AI thing - we have nowhere inside to move them so I took advice from a farming friend - we have tarp'd over the entire roof of the run so nothing can fall through from the sky and used fine-mesh netting to ensure no small birds can get in/out the sides.


    * They were vaccinated when we got them as POL birds over 2 yrs ago but to be honest I'm not sure what vaccinated means as in, what they are vaccinated against??


    *They are due a worming so I'll start that tomorrow - I usually use the pellets infused with flubenvet but I've also got some verm-x tonic stuff today as I thought it may be easier to check dosing if I give it them soaked on a piece of bread each??


    * I've got some Battles Poultry Drink as I read that it can help give them an energy boost and help their immune system


    * I've moved the run to fresh grass (no easy job as it's a massive WIR!) and have bleached, disinfected and scrubbed the entire Eglu, feeders and drinkers etc, a really serious, thorough clean.


    * If she's still looking off colour tomorrow I'll consult vet - though our local vet hasn't a clue about chickens - but in the meantime anyone have any idea what this could be and what home remedies to try?


    Sorry for excessively long post - wanted to make sure I got all the symptoms in and all info which might be relevant to a diagnosis.

    TIA for any help/advice that you can offer (and thank heavens I didn't expand the flock 2 weeks ago as I had been planning to do!)

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