My crazy girls

I am telling this story in hindsight because while this was going on and I had taken some photos the situation with Salmon happened and that took precedence.

The after effect of this story is still happening now though so I have decided to tell it now.

First Smoke went broody. Then Sugar went broody. Then Flame went broody. Flame has always preferred to lay her eggs in a nest box with another girl for company and she had been laying her eggs in the nest box with broody Sugar.

Broody Smoke would be in one nest box and broody Sugar and Flame would be together in the nest box next door. Having three broody girls at once was a bit of a pain and egg laying had dropped right off.

I decided to close the nest boxes and try to break them out of it. Smoke soon gave up. When I checked in on the girls I would find Sugar under Flame’s wing.

Flame and Sugar together

Sometimes Sugar would be pushing herself right underneath Flame and sometimes Flame would have her wing right over Sugar’s body. Flame would call Sugar to any titbits. Flame was mothering Sugar and Sugar had regressed back to being a chick.

Sounds familiar? I have been here before. This is exactly what happened with Flame and Vanilla in the past. It seems to be instigated by Flame. Flame wants so much to be a mum that it seems that when she is broody and finds herself next to a sitting little girl she mothers that little girl.

I can only think that this sparks a hormonal response in the little girl and she happily plays the role of a chick. I knew from past experience that I needed to break this as soon as possible or it could go on for a very long time.

I decided to put Flame in the dog crate, on the bench, in the garden shed like I had done before. I put in a dish of mash as it makes less mess and a dish of water and left the shed door open with a screen in front of it. At night I would close and lock the shed door.

I knew from past experience this wouldn’t take long and in fact it only took two days and two nights. I put Flame back in the run for a break and some exercise three times a day while I closed the nest box Sugar was in so that they couldn’t see each other.

I put Flame in the dog crate
Flame tucks into the mash

Flame would either be eating the mash or just sitting while in the dog crate. If she wasn’t in there she would be just sitting in a nest box so it wasn’t a hardship for her. When I put her back in the run she would scratch and dust bath. Once finished she would go and sit on top of a closed nest box and that would be my signal to put her back in the crate again.

After two days Flame didn’t go and sit on the nest box after her dust bath. I tried shutting Sugar out of the nest box and waited to see what would happen. Flame took no notice of Sugar so after only two days of separation I had broken Flame out of this.

I tried keeping the nest boxes closed as I wanted to try to break Sugar out of this and as we were only getting one egg per day I would open a nest box when I could see that a girl wanted to lay.

The next and very odd thing that happened was that once Flame stopped mothering Sugar I think that Sugar transferred to me being mum. Every time I would walk through the gate Sugar would fly on to my back or sometimes my head.

No matter how many times I lifted Sugar back down she would instantly fly on to me again. I tried bending down and trying to tip her on to the nest box but she would just counter balance on me. If Sugar was on my head I could easily reach up and lift her down but when in the middle of my back she was difficult to reach.

I would slide my fingers under Sugar’s feet and lift her down that way. I tried taking a few photos but just aimed blindly and hoped for the best.

Sugar on my back
Sugar behind my head
I lift Sugar down on my hand
Sugar sits on my hand

This has now been going on for two weeks and Sugar shows no sign of coming out of this yet. If I close the nest boxes she flies on to me all the time. I have got used to doing my chicken chores with Sugar on my back. If I open the nest boxes she goes straight in and sits.

My husband says Sugar is a crazy chicken which probably fits in with me being a crazy chicken woman. He did suggest I should perhaps try to block her but I haven’t the heart to. I have never come across this behaviour before.

This isn’t doing any harm apart from being slightly inconvenient at times so I will just wait to see if she eventually comes out of this.

In other news Smoke laid her first egg today after two weeks. Smoke was only one week broody and then another weeks break. It has been ten days since Flame last laid so I expect she will resume laying again soon. Ebony is back to laying every other day.

Salmon is now completely back to normal. I haven’t helped her today at all as I have seen her at the water and at the dishes of mash as well as having some spinach. We will just have to wait and see what happens when she is ready to lay again.

And that is all the latest news from our crazy chicken run.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Salmon has turned a corner

This morning when I gave out some sunflower hearts, for the first time since Salmon was poorly, she joined in. Salmon gave Shadow the light peck that shows her her place and pecked at the seeds.

A little later I made some scrambled egg, with a little olive oil and water, and added some finely chopped tomato to one side of the dish. I lifted Salmon to the top of the shelter and put the dish in front of her.

Salmon really tucked into the scrambled egg and on this occasion the tomato was ignored. When she had had enough she jumped down from the shelter and I put the dish in the store cabinet to offer it to her again later. Salmon had eaten nearly half the egg. The egg was one of Spangles so it was a tiny egg which was perfect for this purpose.

Salmon has some scrambled egg on top of the shelter
Salmon has a lovely red face and comb

Later in the afternoon I did this again and she almost finished the scrambled egg. The photos above are from this second offering. Once she was finished I gave it to the flock and Ebony got most of it.

It’s been a lovely sunny afternoon and in the afternoon I was really thrilled to see Salmon having a dust bath.

Salmon having a dust bath in the sun
Salmon is watched over by Shadow from the other side of the wire

This is definitely proof that Salmon is feeling more or less back to her usual self. It will also help her with her mucky bottom problem. I am feeling so pleased with her at the moment.

At the weekend I thought she was going to have to be put to sleep. Thank goodness I didn’t give up on her and kept trying to save her.

I know that this may only be a reprieve but I will just take it one step at a time. For now we will have her for a bit longer at least.

I know that her future will depend on what happens when she is ready to lay her next egg. I am hoping this a blip and she will be able to lay normally in future but I know that it can go either way. If Salmon continues to lay soft shelled eggs we could end up here again.

For now I am just so happy that we have overcome this this time and we will have to just wait and see what her future brings.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

Still hanging in there

I am so up and down with Salmon at the moment. Yesterday Salmon was stretched out in the sun and I again felt a spark of hope.

Salmon getting some sun yesterday

Later in the day I tried to tempt her with mash and with sunflower hearts but she refused anything and I felt back down again. If she won’t eat then she has given up and that is the end of the road for her.

We decided to give her the weekend and make a decision on Monday.

Then this morning despite not having any sunflower hearts she was taking bits of spinach when I dropped them in front of her. She can’t exist on spinach alone but it gave me a little glimmer of hope once more.

Salmon had by now got a very mucky bottom again and I decided to clean her up. I thought that it would make her more comfortable and even if we ended up taking her to the vet I would feel better if she was at least cleaned up.

I held her over a bowl of warm water and started to clean her. The poop was white and hard and really stuck round her feathers. I had to gradually soak it off. As I was doing this a bit of soft egg shell appeared just sticking out of her vent.

I have been here with Marmite last year so I gently pulled the shell from Salmon’s vent.

I pulled this from Salmon’s vent this morning

I am feeling that we may now be in with a chance although it may already be too late. The egg itself must be inside her but I hope that continuing with the antibiotic tylan may be able to help stop an infection.

Salmon is in with a better chance having this out of her but it’s still too soon to know if it will make a difference to the outcome. We can only wait and see how she goes now. If I could just get her eating we may be in with a chance.

When separated in the cat box Salmon refused to eat the treats I put in her front of her and she won’t compete with the other girls either. I decided that I somehow needed to separate her from the competition.

I finely chopped some tomato, apple and spinach and added a little sprinkle of sugar for energy to a little dish. I lifted Salmon to the top of the small shelter and put the dish in front of her and also sprinkled some bits in front of her. I stood guard to keep the other girls from getting up there.

Salmon picked out all of the tomato. At least she had some even if not that much before she flew down off the shelter. I will keep trying to do this with different offerings. At the moment any food inside her is better than nothing.

A little later I put Salmon on top of the shelter again with some sunflower hearts and she ate them. I am now feeling a little more hopeful.

We can only wait now to see how she goes over the next few days.

Posted in Chickens | 14 Comments

A very small glimmer of hope

I keep bouncing up and down with Salmon between a glimmer of hope and steeling myself for the most likely outcome.

I wrote some of this in the comments but will write it here for anyone who didn’t see. A little while after I had bathed Salmon and returned her to the run yesterday I picked her up to inspect her vent. There was a clear liquid dripping from her vent which I thought may be egg white.

I have read that if a girl has an egg stuck or broken inside them that sometimes if they are treated with antibiotic straight away it may stop a bacterial infection and they may pass the egg.

The year before last when Salmon was laying soft shelled eggs I once saw her pass a shell less egg. I wonder if this is what she has now.

I checked my store and I have some tylan that is still in date. I decided to put it in the water and some mash right away and we also used a syringe to put some directly into Salmon’s beak.

I not sure if this will save her but I have nothing to lose by trying and her comb is still red which is a good sign.

This morning Salmon was perkier and tucked into the tylan mash. I started to feel hopeful. Later I could see that she had poop hanging again and as the day went on she started looking miserable again.

Salmon at the mash this morning
Salmon has some poop hanging all the time at the moment
Salmon is back to this later in the day

This morning I was full of hope but now I am not so sure. Throughout the day she seemed to have better moments and then more miserable moments.

I don’t know if we can save Salmon but I have to give it a try. I will see how she is tomorrow.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

We now have a problem with Salmon

Just when I thought that everything had settled down with the flock it looks like Salmon has a problem.

A few days ago we noticed Salmon was in the hunched position that usually means an egg laying problem. We wondered if she was heading for a soft shelled egg. Yesterday Salmon sat in a nest box for about an hour and I hoped that she would manage to get an egg laid but she left the nest box without laying.

Today Salmon has looked miserable.

Salmon is looking hunched
Salmon with her eyes closing

Salmon started laying a month ago and had been laying about every three days. She last laid five days ago.

Salmon laid soft shelled eggs the year before last but last year it was if she was fixed and she laid normally all year. This year she has been laying fine until now.

I just don’t understand how they suddenly start having a problem laying. After Marmite it is so frustrating to be back here again.

I picked Salmon up to have a look and she had a very mucky bottom. Salmon often lays her eggs with a bit of poop on them so I suspect there is something not quite right with her.

I decided to bring Salmon in and give her a warm bath. I thought it would get rid of the muck and might relax her vent so that she could get her egg laid. I bathed her in warm water and then gently towel dried her then finished her off with the hairdryer on a low setting.

I kept Salmon in the cat box in the bathroom until she was completely dry then returned her to the run. I knew she would be happier out in the run. Salmon seemed to perk up a bit when back in the run but she soon returned to looking hunched again.

I am so upset to have this problem again so soon. I am afraid that she is going the same way as Marmite and if she can’t get an egg laid soon then we are going to lose her. This is so sad.

In other news Smoke has come through her broody spell. She has been out in the run for the last couple of days. We had our first, six egg day, at the end of last month when Ebony started laying again and only Spangle missed laying that day.

Ebony laid for two weeks then stopped again and we have only been getting one egg a day for the last four days. Two of these days were Shadow and one was Spangle and then today Ebony laid again after a weeks break.

I am steeling myself for not having a good outcome for Salmon and am feeling a bit disheartened at the moment. I feel we will know over the next few days and I will update with any further news.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

Three broody girls!

Yesterday Flame went broody. Flame has been laying for six weeks and has never gone broody this early in the year before.

I don’t remember ever having three broody girls before. Loads of times there have been two as Smoke is a serial broody and will coincide with another girl from time to time.

This is a bit frustrating because Flame is one of our best layers. Flame lays two days out of three whereas Ebony lays every other day at best and hasn’t laid for the last three days.

This will leave us with much fewer eggs and not many of the bigger eggs. It also clogs up the nest boxes. Last night I closed all the nest boxes before bedtime as it also means moving three girls.

By closing the nest boxes it meant that both Flame and Smoke perched at bedtime. Sugar settled in the corner of the chicken shed but it meant I only had to lift one girl to the perch rather than three.

Broody Flame and broody Sugar together
Broody Smoke next door
I lift out Sugar and then Flame
I lift out Smoke

Ebony in the background is looking in the nest box because I have lifted the lid. She always likes to take a look when I look in but she didn’t go in.

I wonder if Flame laying her eggs beside broody Sugar has triggered her going broody. Flame does like company in the nest box and it’s not the first time she has been broody alongside a little girl.

I guess we are going to be having less eggs for a while. We won’t be able to gift any more for a while. Sigh!

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

All three nest boxes occupied at the same time

Not only were all three nest boxes occupied at once but occupied by seven girls. Our flock seems to be diminishing! This morning there were only two girls out in the run and that was Spangle and Shadow.

Two broody girls clogging up the nest boxes is meaning that they are all three in use and some sharing is having to become the norm.

I grabbed my camera and took some photos.

Flame and Sugar in one nest box
Smoke and Ebony in the next nest box
Salmon in the nest box by the gate
Only Spangle and Shadow not in a nest box

It is so odd seeing so few girls out in the run these days. Luckily the two bigger girls are happy to share a nest box with the two broody girls.

When I went back to check a little later Shadow was in the nest box by the gate with Salmon.

Shadow and Salmon share a nest box

There is an awful lot of nest box sharing at the moment. I don’t think all three nest boxes have ever been so busy.

It is great to see the girls sharing instead of shouting about it. A few moments later the egg shout went out. I went back to check.

Smoke was now in the nest box by the gate which is a nest box she never uses. I lifted her out and there were Shadow and Salmon’s eggs side by side. How did Smoke know there were eggs to sit on!

It never ceases to amaze me how a broody girl will always find the eggs. It is quite amusing to see the nest boxes being so well used at the moment. They are funny girls.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Two broody girls

Smoke has now gone broody as well as Sugar. Smoke has laid eleven eggs in fifteen days which is her average before going broody.

I can’t believe I said recently that for the first time in a long time all the girls were laying. That didn’t last long.

Sugar is sitting in one nest box and Smoke in the next one along. Ebony and Flame have shared the nest box with Sugar today and Shadow has laid her egg in the third nest box by the gate. Salmon also did the same thing yesterday.

It’s the first time I can remember having all three nest boxes occupied. Usually the girls like to try to get in the favourite nest box but I think that as Shadow is so docile she preferred to choose a different nest box.

Two broody girls

I lifted both girls out to get a photo. I love the way they are refusing to look at each other.

I lifted both girls from the nest boxes to the perch in the chicken shed last night and will continue to do this. It is a pain when more than one girl goes broody at a time but what can you do!

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Sugar is broody

Since Shadow and Sugar started laying I have wondered if one of them would be a broody girl. Shadow started laying earlier than Sugar and once she hit her stride she proved to be a really good layer.

I thought this would probably mean that Shadow would be a broody girl because it tends to be the good egg layers that go broody.

However it turns out that it is Sugar who is the broody. Shadow has laid 24 eggs so far and Sugar has laid 14 eggs and then gone broody. This is a similar number to Smoke before going broody.

I first thought she was going broody when I would check the nest box and Sugar would growl and raise her tail. I thought this meant she was going to be one of those angry broodies. It turned out that she was just trying to get her last egg laid.

Once Sugar actually went broody she wasn’t angry at all. She will let me lift her from the nest box with no fuss. When I put her out in the run she sits for a minute then starts scratching away. She will have a scratch and some food and water before going back in and doesn’t rush back immediately. Maybe this is because it’s just her first time.

Broody Sugar
I lift Sugar out of the nest box
Ebony joins Sugar in the favourite nest box
Sugar is practically underneath Ebony
Flame and Sugar share a nest box

Ebony seemed to push her way into the nest box and Sugar just held her position. Flame prefers company in a nest box and will choose an occupied one if there is one so they seemed happier with sharing.

I later removed both Ebony’s egg and then Flame’s egg from underneath Sugar. Shadow chose to lay her egg in the nest box next to this one.

I am happy that when I lift Sugar she is docile and accepting. It’s much nicer than an angry girl. At bedtime I am lifting her from the nest box and perching her in the chicken shed and she perches happily without dropping down from the perch.

Sugar doesn’t shout when I remove her from the nest box unlike Smoke, sometimes, so that is a bonus too. Sugar is turning out to be a sweet broody girl so far.

It will be interesting to see how she long she will stay broody. The good thing is that we are getting plenty of eggs.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Smoke our current digger

All the girls love to dig holes but Smoke is our current most avid digger. I say current because back in the day that title went to Cinnamon.

Cinnamon was our smallest girl but had big feet and we soon came to realise that she put them to good use. Cinnamon would dig holes that she would disappear into.

Smoke has taken this job over from Cinnamon. Smoke did this last year and I posted about it but I think it can take posting again.

Ebony and Flame can dig good holes because they are bigger girls. But their holes don’t compare with Smoke’s holes in comparison to her size. Smoke will dig a hole that she can disappear into.

Sometimes I go back to check on the girls and Smoke may be still digging away at her hole an hour later. I guess it keeps her occupied. The bigger girls come along and fill in her holes and then Smoke sets about making them again.

I fill in the holes when I clean up the run and Smokes makes them again. I figure it gives her a purpose. It also seems to be to do with the time of year because Smoke was doing this last year at this time of year.

Perhaps there are bugs to be had or perhaps it is just for fun.

Smoke digging her hole
Smoke’s head is deep in her hole
Smoke’s feet have disappeared into the soil
Smoke’s head is back in her hole
And she is back up again

I have to say that I do find it quite entertaining to watch. I am sure she is having fun.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments