A Chicken with a Hat!

My kids decided Little Muff needed some head protection after her pecking. She's such a good sport. Too cute!

Caring for a Pecked Chicken

My latest post for Backyard Poultry Magazine.....

A little over a week ago, I decided to take a mid-morning break and visit my flock. As I walked through the yard, I noticed everyone acting a little strange and one of my roosters was pacing back and forth in front of the open coop door. When I got to the coop, one of my Ameracauna hens, “Little Muff” was on top of the nest boxes and she practically jumped into my arms. The first thing I noticed was her head was covered in blood.
Since it was a cool day and she was severely injured, I knew that I first had to prevent her from going into shock. So, I took her into the house to examine her wound and get her warm. Then, I tried not to freak out because her wound was horrible.
From just behind her comb to top of her head had been pecked away. There were no more feathers and her top layer of skin was completely gone. Luckily, her blood had already formed a scab because so much skin was gone that it really was just hanging there and the only thing holding it in place was the dried blood.

I situated Little Muff in the dog’s kennel (the dog was unhappy about this) since it could be easily cleaned and was pleased to see she had lost none of her spunk as she ate and drank immediately.
After that, I knew I had to tend to her wound. Now, a lot of people recommend thoroughly cleaning a bloody wound and then applying ointment. But, it’s important to note that chickens have a higher body temperature than we do. This allows their blood to clot faster, helps them avoid infection and heal quickly. With that in mind, I gently cleaned away the excess blood around her face and neck with a warm wet cotton ball. Then I applied Neosporin and hoped she’d heal.
I’m happy to announce that after a week, Little Muff is doing well. Her deepest wounds still have some exposed clots, but there has been no infection. Her skin color is great. Her wounded dead skin is starting to flake off and be replaced by new skin. She is actually starting to get back a few feathers around her eyes and comb. But, I don’t think she’ll ever get back feathers at the top of her head. In that spot, the wounds are so deep that I think the entire feather shaft is gone.

I’ve prepared a hospital, complete with a heat lamp, and have moved Little Muff to our garage to finish her recovery.
Watch for my next post as I research why chickens peck.....

Originally posted at Backyard Poultry Magazine.

The Truth About Chicken Nest Boxes

The following is my recent post for Backyard Poultry Magazine:

With cold weather on our doorsteps, it’s the time of year that most chicken keepers take a hard look at their coop to make sure everything’s in order for winter. As I was looking at our coop, the nest boxes struck me as funny. I remember setting up our coop and diligently poring over books that gave advice on exactly what size and how many nest boxes a coop should have.

Now, I’m not advocating deviation from those standards. But, over the years, it has become increasingly obvious that my chickens had nothing to do with writing those standards. And, for the novice chicken keeper, it’s important to understand that chickens have a mind of their own when it comes to egg laying.

We’ve currently got 14 laying hens which have six equally sized clean boxes to use. And, for the most part, this works out fine. But there are exceptions to the rule.

For instance, there’s always one box that every chicken covets and wants to use at the exact same time. There are days I’ll go in the coop and find chickens doubled up in the coveted box with a line of traffic taxiing the runway waiting for their turn for takeoff.

Then, there are those chickens that are free spirits and some days they just have to strike out on their own. Take Big Muff our ameracauna hen; over the hot summer she chose to sneak out and lay a clutch of eggs just off our concrete parking area by our front door; an even hotter locale than the coop. Or take Hope one of our red sex link hens; she’s obsessed with sneaking out and laying eggs right by our mudroom door. She’s singlehandedly destroyed a planter and made it her own nest box.

There’s also, Henrie, another of our red sex links, she really likes the area right under our nest boxes and actively works to maintain that territory.

Or, there are our brown leghorn hens who like to share a nest box for no other reason than it’s great to have company when you’re laying an egg.

To be fair, on most days, our nest boxes are just fine for everyone, but when the exceptions occur, it makes me laugh and I’m sure you won’t find that written in any chicken keeping guide.

Originally posted at Backyard Poultry Magazine.
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