Monday, May 21, 2012

...3 full weeks later....

I'm happy to report that we finally have peace in the land. Saturday I discovered Bunny spending most of the day down in the dirt mixing in with the rest of the chickens instead of living above them on her perch.  

It has been a full 3 weeks since we brought her home.  The wound on her neck has healed and some of the feathers are starting to grow back.  Most of them probably won't return until she goes through a molt this fall.  I brought out cantaloupe for them and she was allowed to eat right along with them.  Later I noticed that she was full of sand and dirt which meant she was taking a dust bath right along with the rest of them in their late afternoon spa session.

There is still a little squawking going on but it's mostly her.  She seems to get nervous when the others get to close and she's the one making noise and running around trying to get away while the rest of them seem to look at her with that "what's up with you" look.  Henrietta seems to like to bump her out of the nesting boxes and they squabble over one of the boxes even tho the other boxes are unoccupied.  She still is not sleeping with them at night but I'm sure that will happen soon.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


We still are working at introducing our new/old chicken.  We've named her Bunny.  She is a very sweet  chicken and loves being near me or on me.


 I am happy to report that despite being inside a barn stall all her life and not having the freedom to go outside in the sun or dirt that she has learned to go outside during the day and inside at dusk.  I've even caught her spending time alone in the run after all the others had gone to bed, giving herself a dust bath.  

She is also enjoying fresh grass and dandelions along with all the other fresh treats that come from the kitchen.  We are pretty sure she didn't get that at her old home.  She has been laying eggs on a regular basis so I'm sure she's not too stressed out.  The Blue Kote is working to heal her wound and the others haven't pecked at her neck for about a week now.

However she still is not part of the flock and maybe she'll never be totally accepted.  We've now determined that Patty is the leader of the pack.  We've never been able to determine the pecking order.  I think because they were raised together since chicks that it's very subtle.  When she is spotted on the floor in the coop Patty, Ruby or Amelia will go after her and land a hard peck on her back.



 She usually scurries into the cat carrier or goes up onto the roosting pole.  She tends to stay up high in the coop while the others are outside in the run.  She's been sleeping alone on top of the nesting boxes.  I've watched as she sits over there opposite from the others and sometimes it looks like she's mustering up the courage to jump over there and join them.  Maybe some day she will.  She does get alone time inside the coop twice a day to eat and drink.   If she is out in the run she is usually perched up on the roost.    We've put a waterer up there for her and place treats on the ledge when it's treat time. 

She still looks pretty scruffy, especially next to Bonnie.

 We even take her outside of the run and give her a few minutes in the grass.  

Which has prompted us to start a new project!
It will give us the opportunity to give the chickens a chance to be on the grass, eating the grass and bugs and give them a change of scenery.  It will also be a neutral place to help integrate Bunny into the flock.  Watch for upcoming posts.  Meanwhile picture it here...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Can't we all just get along?

Remember back in June when we sent 4 of our hens packing to a friends farm?  A few months ago, they brought in a couple more hens and 2 roosters in hopes of maybe incubating eggs and raising chicks.  Well 6 hens is not enough for 2 roosters plus they are kept in a large stall in the barn with no access to the outside world.   I believe those chickens are bored.  They need to be let outside and giving more room to roam. After a visit to the friend's farm this past Saturday, it was discovered that both roosters were fighting over one of the Buff's AND beating her up in process. They weren't doing this to the other hens.  She looked pretty ragged (especially next to our Bonnie) with a bald patch on her back and missing feathers behind her comb. 


 I reluctantly agreed to getting her out of there. We aren't set up to introduce a new bird to an existing flock which can be a very tricky process even when you are set up for it and follow the right steps.  I did some quick reading on the subject and discovered that the only thing that we had going for us is that she is exactly the same age as our chickens.  Unfortunately chickens have no recollection of their youth, let alone last week.  An existing flock has a well established pecking order and routine and adding even one stranger can upset this order and the pecking order has to be re-established.  They accomplish this by pecking and fighting.  NOT a pleasant process.  By the time my research was done she had already been plunked down in the run with the cat carrier door open. We stayed with her and kept watch over her and monitored the situation.  It wasn't going all that well but as long as she was able to get up away from our chickens she was ok and they left her alone.

 In the process, I discovered that she has a nasty gash on the back of her neck/head.  It's likely that she was cut by one of the rooster's talons when they were scuffling and she was getting caught up in it.  We certainly aren't set up to care for an injured bird.  That only made this process more difficult.  When chickens see blood and injury on another bird they are attracted to it and will continue to go after it. And go after it they do.  They have been re-injuring her neck and drawing blood.  So after a hearty snack for everyone...

We sprayed her with Blue-Kote which is an anti bacterial, purple colored spray that stains and hides the injury from the other birds.  It also has a bad flavor that deters the other birds from pecking.

and this is what happens when you don't wear gloves....I have been doing a lot of dishes lately....

That still didn't seem to be doing the trick so last night I made a turtleneck for her out of an old sock and a couple pieces of elastic to cover up the injury.  The elastic goes around her wings to hold it in place.

Except this morning it doesn't look like it's staying in place very well.  It slips down below the injury.

Meanwhile she is avoiding the other chickens to some degree by staying up high or in a nesting box or in the cat carrier but there are times she can't avoid them. We do give her alone time in the coop to eat and drink and have been putting her inside the coop in her carrier at night.  The act of going inside at dark is foreign to her because she was kept inside all the time.  Henrietta has been seen perched next to her outside so maybe she is very slowly making friends.  She is a VERY friendly chicken who is not afraid to literally jump up into your arms or sit for a long time on your lap and she's laying us and egg every day, which is a good sign.

It's been 4 days and we are hoping for the best and hoping that she'll be accepted or at least ignored and allowed to peacefully co-exist but if it doesn't work out we can try re-homing her to a different friend with turkeys who might not bother her or cull her and move forward.  This is no fun for me.  I'm not completely emotionally attached to the chickens and didn't get all that upset when Buffy died a couple weeks ago but I don't like to see an animal suffering.  I also was very happy with my happy peaceful flock and don't want it to change.  I knew all of these things were possible of happening when we started raising chickens and did do some minor reading on different subjects and banked simple solutions in my mind but I'm a "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" kind of thinker, so I'm have this knot in my stomach now and I'm sort of at a loss for solutions anymore.  One hour at a time I guess.