Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

Last night, I was checking on my chickens before bed. In the "clean" pen, I noticed that Fred, my BLRW from my daughter's classroom hatch, was not on the perch with the other chickens. I found it odd and troubling.

This morning, I went to check on her, and found her in the henhouse instead of out with everyone else. She was kind of sitting low and was really puffed up.  I knew this was a bad sign, so I separated her from the others.

Within six hours, she was dead. I happened to have friends over when she finally passed, and one of them dug the hole for me, which was nice. All of the recent rain made the digging go very quickly.

I am feeling sad about the whole thing, and also extremely frustrated.  I honestly believe the three deaths are unrelated. Fred was never exposed to either of the other two chickens.

As I was really getting warmed up for my pity party, I remembered Fred's life, and some things kind of possibly clicked into place.  Fred was the last of the chicks to hatch in my daughter's class, and she was really, really overdue. She's also been a lot smaller than her hatchmates.  I'm now wondering if maybe she had something wrong with her from the beginning, and it just finally caught up with her?

I told my seven year old, and she took the news fairly well. She was sad, of course, but she accepted the news.

I was going to post a picture of her with this "obituary", but I can't find a recent one. My husband will be shocked- he is appalled at the sheer number of photos I have of my chickens.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Update and New Layer!

Today I exchanged a few emails with the vet at the extension. Evidently disposal of the animal is included, but that's just tossing out in the landfill (admittedly, I have no problem with this, even though that probably makes me a heartless pet owner). If I chose to incinerate, it was an extra charge. When I mentioned that I didn't see landfill as an option, and why I chose it, she said she would reverse that charge, which I thought was very decent of her. I also thought it was very kind of her to answer my questions about my flock. I've been losing sleep over what I could be facing, and she helped put my mind at ease.

Essentially, LL is incredibly common in the chicken community. She used the term ubiquitous, which is such a lovely word, and not used frequently enough. Ubiquitous means that it's found everywhere- more than 90% of chickens have been exposed to it. She said that the only way to guarantee a flock is LL free is to have each chicken tested before having them join the group, and to be prepared for a lot of positives. Having them actually get the tumors and die is fairly rare. If a flock starts having a lot of losses, it's probably a good idea to cull the rest, but odds are, it won't go that route.

My plan is to keep the remaining six chickens separate for a few more months. If nobody else gets sick, I can basically relax. Yes, they are all exposed, but it sounds like it isn't that big of a deal most of the time.

I also have great news! My cream legbar is officially laying! I was pretty sure that she laid an egg yesterday.  My lavender ameraucana eggs have had a particular shape to them (almost pear shaped), and always have some little calcium deposits, called "pimples" on the narrow end, and have a greenish tint.  The egg I got yesterday was smoother, more oval shape, no pimples and appeared more blue. Today, I got one of each, so I have my answer!

Ameraucana egg on the left (see the pimples at the very tip?) and Legbar egg on the right.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chick Pictures

Ok, without further ado, here's my chicks:

Named after her auntie, this is Potsy.

And this is Fonz. Pretty sure he's a boy.

And the two of them together:

The other two haven't hatched, and I don't think they will. When I was taking these guys out of the incubator,  I checked for pips and found none. I also tapped on both eggs, and didn't hear tapping back. I've always gotten a response when I do that with term, living eggs.