Speckles is leader of the little girls

Speckles is very often surrounded by the little girls while Flame and Ebony are elsewhere. Sometimes she will be either be stood or sat in the run with the little girls all around her or sometimes she will be on top of one of the shelters with little girls.

Speckles is very much the head of the little girls whereas Ebony and Flame tend to perch together on the branch perch. Sometimes Speckles will join Ebony and Flame on the branch perch too. Speckles is definitely head girl despite her age making her look a bit fragile.

Speckles and her flock of little girls

A gathering on the small shelter

Meanwhile Flame and Ebony are on the branch perch

Flame has very few tail feathers left. This is the favourite perch of the bigger girls.

Jasmine is not looking happy

Jasmine looks like she did after she had her two funny turns, before we found out, she has a heart murmur. The vet said to try not to let her get stressed! Despite the heart murmur Jasmine is top serama and takes no nonsense from the other little girls. I think she is top because she came into the flock before the remaining little girls.

But Jasmine is now moulting. I have seen her fluffy, silky feathers, drifting around her. I think that is what is stressing her at the moment. I just hope that she will bounce back from this. The moult can be so hard on these girls. I think it was the moult that triggered Salmon into the wheezing.

I am disappointed that we are now on day three of the tylan and Salmon is still wheezing. I really hope she can shake this off soon.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

I have tylan

The vet said that my tylan would be in on Monday but Monday is their half day and they don’t open until two o’clock. By the time I was able to collect it, it was four o’clock. As the girls are now going in between half past five and six o’clock I decided to start using it this morning.

I put one level teaspoon of tylan powder in a bowl and pour over one litre of water and wait for it to dissolve. I change the chickens water dish to a smaller one so that I don’t use too much and waste it. I use some of the water to mix four small dishes of mash. Because the girls don’t drink as much in the winter I feel that the mash helps them to take more of the tylan.

Any water left after twenty four hours must be thrown away and a fresh batch made. They need to be treated for five days.

In these photos I gave the girls the mash before changing the water. The large water dish on the left of the photo has now been changed to a smaller one and the drinker on the right of the photo has just enough water to cover the tray at the bottom.

The flock have mash made with tylan water

All the girls have a share of the mash

By this afternoon I thought that Salmon was wheezing less. I also noticed that Spangle was wheezing slightly too. Spangle has always sneezed the most.

Long term I will still have to let my flock die out unless I went through several years without this recurring but at least I don’t need to sacrifice girls like Salmon who are well in themselves. The new vet said that it is all about quality of life. If I have a really poorly girl I would have her put to sleep but I don’t want to do that to a girl that looks as lively and fit as Salmon.

I have lost a third of my flock this year and my flock of eight feels quite small but they all look healthy and I am hoping that I can keep these girls for as long as possible. I am feeling much happier about the situation now that I can treat them over winter if I need too.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

A lovely vet

I took Salmon to the new vet at half past five this evening. Salmon was so stressed once I had put her in the cat box that I started to worry I might lose her. She was panting with her beak open and wheezing more than ever.

The vet was really lovely. It had already been put on my notes that I had mycoplasma in my flock and that I needed tylan. She took Salmon out of the cat box and weighed her and said that that was all she was going to do as she didn’t want to stress her more. She said her weight was right for her size and she could see a couple of poops in the cat box so that was fine. She could hear her wheezing and she could see that I was used to this and on to it.

She said that wheezing and sneezing can only be myco and the only thing that treats it properly is tylan. She said they no longer recommend baytril as it only suppresses symptoms and doesn’t get rid of it.

I said that I thought moulting along with colder weather was the stress to bring this out again and she said that moulting knocks their immune system and because they are so tiny they are more vulnerable.

She said that as I have a closed flock the right thing to do is to treat and make sure my girls have quality of life. I said that if they were suffering I would have them put to sleep but that tylan usually got them well again.

I said that I had been treating every winter and had just discovered how close to me this practice was. I had taken in my empty tylan bottle and she said she would order the same and whenever I needed more they would supply me with it. She said that it will be in by Monday and to keep using the baytril that I have until then.

She said that this could come into a flock at any time through the wild birds and then you are stuck with it and you just have to be vigilant and to treat it. I could have hugged her. What a difference!

As soon as I got Salmon home I gave her a dose of baytril and returned her to the run and straight away she bounced back and was herself again. I am feeling so relieved and so happy with this vet. If only I had done this sooner but hind sight is a wonderful thing.

Maybe now my flock can get back to being a well and happy flock and that makes me happy.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Salmon and a change of heart

Salmon finished her second, seven day, course of baytril yesterday and she is still wheezing. I really don’t believe that baytril is as good as tylan. In fact looking back we have never got a girl well with baytril.

Caramel and Pebbles were both on baytril and I lost them both. Cinnamon had baytril and it appeared to have worked but obviously didn’t as she soon relapsed and the baytril didn’t help at all the second time.

Now Salmon has had two courses and again the first seemed to work but obviously didn’t because she started wheezing again two weeks later. Again a second course has made no difference.

I had said that I would treat twice and then let them go but Salmon looks so well. It is one thing taking a poorly girl to the vets but quite another taking a girl that looks well. Salmon is lively, eats well and does all the usual chicken things. She looks good and has a red comb. She looks like a healthy chicken but she is wheezing and I know that means she is not free of myco.

Salmon has a red face and comb

She looks great

So beautiful

So friendly

How can I give up on her! Salmon is beautiful and friendly and has never gone broody. She is a lovely girl and she looks great but she is wheezing and sneezing.

The other girls are sneezing too. My husband said why don’t we just leave her and see what happens. I said she will pass it to the rest and he said the rest already have it. I said she may deteriorate without further treatment. We seem to have reached a stalemate.

Sophie and I have been e-mailing and this morning she called me. We had a long heart to heart. She pointed out that if I let them go one by one I will still go through this heartbreak every time. She also pointed out that even if I let the flock die out there is no guarantee that this won’t come back with new girls.

Sophie sent me a link to a forum about myco and it seems that it is much more common than you might expect. Back yard flock keepers said their vets advice was not to cull but to treat. This has made me have a re think about this.

I can’t let Salmon go without trying to save her. I have decided that I am going to try another vet. There is another vet practice quite near us. I am going to see if I can register there and take Salmon to see them.

I feel bad about saying one thing here and then changing my mind but this has all been so difficult. I have been going round and round with this and it had got to the point where I didn’t know what to do about salmon. With Cinnamon there was nothing more I could do and losing Cinnamon has been heartbreaking but with Salmon there is still a possible chance, with the right help, of getting her better.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Getting through the moult

Marmite and Flame are beginning to look back to normal after their moult. Marmite is now all feathered up except for still having loads of pins on her head making her head look white.

Flame is just about feathered up with just a few pins on her neck.

Marmite still has white pins on her head

Flame has pins on this side of her neck

This side of Flame’s neck has feathered up

It is so good not to be picking up loads of feathers and also to see these two girls almost back to their forma glory.

In other news, Smoke came out of her broody spell after only five days. This is very brief for Smoke. I think the colder weather probably brought her out of it.

Marmte was being very vocal yesterday and looking in the nest box. Later in the afternoon she gave the shout out and there was her egg in the nest box. Well done Marmite!

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

A difficult and sad decision to be made

I have been fighting mycoplasma for three years now, since it came into my flock, with Caramel and Pebbles. I have lost so many of my girls to this horrible respiratory disease.

I have been advised by my vet that I must let my flock die out as that is the only way to be rid of it and that I cannot go on treating it indefinitely. I have balked at this suggestion.

With the painful loss of Cinnamon and the ongoing symptoms with Salmon I am having to have a difficult rethink. I can only say that just writing this has me in tears.

I am no longer allowed to treat with tylan in the water and I don’t believe that baytril is as good. I  treated Cinnamon with baytril ten weeks ago and it seemed to improve her instantly. Three days later she started laying eggs again. She laid eight eggs and then took a break of three weeks as she had started moulting.

Cinnamon then started laying eggs again and laid six eggs in two weeks. Every one of these eggs had a blob of poop on them. Looking back I think that this shows something was adrift inside of her.

It was two weeks after Cinnamon had stopped laying  again that she showed the same symptoms as before. This time treating her with baytril had no effect at all and the next day she was gone.

It was only two weeks ago that I took Salmon to the vet and started her on baytril. She stopped wheezing after three days and I gave her a week’s course. It was only nine days later that she started wheezing again. I started treating her with baytril four days ago and this time so far she is still wheezing.

I am beginning to think that the vet is right that I can’t keep treating. If Salmon is still wheezing by the end of this course of bayrtil I will have to take her back to the vet. If she does improve this time but starts wheezing again in the near future I will have to take her back to the vet.

I am beginning to see that I cannot keep treating if it keeps coming back and I dread the thought of how I will get the flock through the winter.

I am afraid that I will lose Salmon in the near future and I will be very surprised if Speckles makes it through this winter. All summer we have noticed that her breathing is very noticeable as her breast feathers bob up and down with each breath.

This last week there have been very, large, wet, patches under her roost spot. She has become very anxious and is easily startled. Since the loss of Cinnamon she calls out throughout the day. I feel her unhappiness at losing Cinnamon. Speckles always roosted in the corner next to Cinnamon but now no longer roosts in the corner. Speckles now roosts between Ebony and Flame.

My vet wanted me to treat each girl only once when they showed myco symptoms and then let them go. I am considering doing this on my terms and treating each girl twice before letting them go. I know that the baytril is always generous enough to stretch to two treatments.

This may be a long journey but I am thinking now that the vet is right and I must let my flock go one by one. I can never add more girls to this flock and I can’t go on with the heartbreak of having this in my flock.

I had hoped that when Dandelion went maybe we would be free of this but I can now see that myco is very much still a presence in my flock.

I realise that what may happen is that I may lose the little girls one by one and then end up with just Ebony and Flame. It seems to me that the little girl are too fragile to fight the myco but the bigger girls are able to live with it. All the bigger girls, past and present, have shown no other symptoms than sneezing.

The fact that they are sneezing means they are carrying it and could pass it on. I love my seramas and ultimately want a serama flock and a flock of just two bigger girls in the future would not be a good place to be. I would have to cross that bridge if and when I came to it but if I did end up with just two bigger girls I may have to make a decision to let them go.

I have researched what needs to be done and this is what it says is needed. Thorough cleaning and drying of the chicken shed and then disinfection with bleach. Leave the shed open for several weeks before stocking with new birds.

I am tearful thinking about and writing about this but I just don’t know what else I can do.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

A tribute to Cinnamon

We lost our lovely Cinnamon yesterday. She has always been a firm favourite of both of us and of my readers too I think.

I made a mistake yesterday when I said she was four years old, in fact she was only three years old. I was counting my egg record sheets which have the date of new arrivals at the top and I had forgotten that due to a larger flock I used two sheets this year.

We collected the three amigos, Cinnamon, Dandelion and Apricot, in February 2017. Cinnamon was the only one of Dave’s girls still with us and she was the one we went back for. I instantly fell for her small size and red/brown colour. Dave didn’t want to sell her to me as he noticed she had red mite. We drove round the block and went back for her. I couldn’t leave her behind and reasoned that if she had red mite, they probably all did, and we could deal with it.

I have always been glad that we went back for her. She turned out to have a huge character for a tiny girl. She was feisty and soon rose to top girl of the girls we had at that time. She had big feet for her small size and always dug the deepest, dust bath, holes. Cinnamon also formed the closest friendships.

Cinnamon and Dandelion were inseparable from the first day they arrived. Dandelion used to cry if she lost sight of Cinnamon. Speckles soon took these girls under her wing and was very motherly towards them.

When Dandelion was unwell in April, Cinnamon kept her company, until we had to have her put to sleep. From that moment on Cinnamon and Speckles were inseparable and they roosted next to each other in the corner of the new chicken shed.

I am including many photos of Cinnamon as she was such a character and I want to give her a fitting send off. She is already much missed.

The three amigos before the later arrival of the five amigos (of which there are now four)

Cinnamon always dug the deepest, dust bath, holes

Cinnamon during her first summer with us

Cinnamon liked to perch on the high, branch, perch

Speckles and Cinnamon looking at something through the weld mesh

Dandelion and Cinnamon in a patch of sun

Speckles and Cinnamon at the pellet dish together

Cinnamon always had a big crop for a little girl

Dandelion and Cinnamon together

Dandelion and Cinnamon in a dust bath together

Cinnamon’s fluffy bottom

Another portrait of Cinnamon with Dandelion next to her but out of shot

Cinnamon had to get her, dust bath, holes just right with her busy, digger, feet

Another dust bath together and both girls have pins on their head

Beautiful Cinnamon

Cinnamon checks on Dandelion in the nest box

Cinnamon only went broody a couple of times

Cinnamon keeps a poorly Dandelion company

These two were always together after we lost Dandelion

Cinnamon with Speckles not far from her

Cinnamon perches between Speckles and Flame, after we lost Dandelion, Cinnamon always preferred the bigger girls company

Cinnamon stays close to Speckles

Cinnamon last month

For a tiny girl she was a big presence in the chicken run and I can’t get used to not seeing her there at the moment. Speckles didn’t perch in their corner for the first time last night but perched near the door next to Flame.

Our sweet Cinnamon will never be forgotten. She was a very special little girl.

Posted in Chickens | 10 Comments

Cinnamon has gone

I wanted to get back as early as I could to see how Cinnamon was but everything seemed against me. Everywhere I went I had to queue and the traffic coming home was really slow.

When I got home my husband held his arms out to me and said that Cinnamon was gone. I burst into tears. He went to check on her and she was huddled in a corner. He picked her up and liquid poured from her beak. For a moment he thought this may be a sign that she was getting rid of it and he thought it might help her.

He put her back in the nest box and her breathing was very shallow. Suddenly her head went down and she scratched with her feet and then she was gone.

We wrapped her up and dug a very deep hole in the chicken’s strip. My husband made a cross from some odd bits of perch and said it was the biggest cross for our smallest girl. I planted some poppy and primrose seedlings over her.

Cinnamon is buried here

The chicken’s strip

We have had Cinnamon for three and half years making her about four years old which is our longest lived serama. She has always been a firm favourite of ours.

She will be very much missed. I feel for Speckles losing her close little friend. When I cleaned up the run Speckles followed me around making a mournful sound. Cinnamon is the last girl from my first serama breeder. She was such a sweetie. I will do a tribute to her tomorrow.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

A very poorly Cinnamon

The day before yesterday I noticed that Salmon was wheezing again. Then yesterday afternoon we both saw that Cinnamon was in trouble again.

Cinnamon was making the same twisting, neck motion, that she was last time. In between she was sitting hunched and miserable.

I had saved the remains of the baytril from treating Cinnamon last time and also saved the remains from treating Salmon. I have enough to treat both girls. I know that the vet will not treat either girl a second time so I decided to use the baytril to treat them both.

We gave both girls a dose right away. Last time Cinnamon bounced back about four hours later. By the end of the day I was disappointed to see that there was no improvement in Cinnamon. I decided to give Cinnamon another dose. I waited until she had perched for the night so that I could lift her from the perch with minimal stress.

This morning Cinnamon joined in with the morning sunflower hearts and I felt hopeful. It didn’t last long though. As the morning wore on Cinnamon looked more and more miserable. She was sitting hunched in the corner between the wooden block and the patio.

A very poorly Cinnamon

I am certain that I am not going to get her back from this this time but as one last ditch attempt I decided to give her one more dose. I had to go out to do my lunch deliveries and she was very weak. I thought of putting her in the cat box but then decided that she would be more comfortable in a nest box.

I put her in the nest box and I don’t know what I will find when I get back at lunch time. I am preparing myself for finding her gone or taking her to the vets. I am in tears right now. Cinnamon has always been a favourite and she is my longest standing serama.

I am so upset by this happening again and felt that I had to get this post out before going out as I don’t know what will happen this afternoon.

Posted in Chickens | 2 Comments

Smoke is broody again

Smoke has laid nine eggs in fourteen days and then she went broody again. Ebony is now our only girl left laying. Smoke only ever seems to lay for two weeks before going broody. It seems so late in the year to be broody.

Broody Smoke

A familiar sight. I doubt if Smoke will lay again this year. Sigh!

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments