Back to just Sugar being broody

Recently Smoke hasn’t been so committed to staying broody. Smoke still goes broody as often but this time and last time she has come out of it after one week exactly.

I have been lifting both the broody girls out of the nest boxes every time I go to check on the girls and I close the nest boxes at the end of the day. Smoke has been perching in the chicken shed at bedtime but Sugar refuses to perch.

At the end of the day I have been lifting both broody girls out of the nest boxes and closing them then I give out some sunflower hearts. Sugar has a few sunflower hearts then runs straight into the chicken shed.

The longest Sugar stays out is to have a dust bath. Sugar now knows the nest boxes will be closed at the end of the day and she speeds her way into the chicken shed. If I try to perch her at dusk she will just keep dropping down again. It has now been six weeks which would be enough time to hatch eggs twice over.

This afternoon I wanted to take some photos of all the flock now that Smoke is staying out in the run. I lifted Sugar from the nest box and placed her out in the run. I then put a dish of chopped tomato on the patio area to see if I could get a photo of all the girls.

Sugar made her way to the patio area and I waited to see if she would go to the dish of tomato. She didn’t but she did stop briefly to peck at a piece of apple on her way back into the nest box.

I give the girls some chopped tomato
Sugar makes her way to the patio area
Sugar ignores the tomato but pecks at a piece of apple on her way back to the nest box
Sugar makes her way back up the ramp
Sugar is back in the nest box

We are beginning to wonder if Sugar is going to stay like this forever. Smoke has now been broody twice and out of it again in the time that Sugar has remained broody and she is showing no sign of coming out of it.

This is such a strange situation. I wonder how long Sugar is going to continue like this. I hope she isn’t going to stay like this all summer.

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Two broodies again

Sugar has now been broody for five weeks and shows no sign of coming out of it. Yesterday Smoke went broody again. Smoke has laid ten eggs in fourteen days before going broody again.

Smoke and Sugar went broody together five weeks ago. In the time that Sugar has been broody Smoke has been broody, come out of it and taken a weeks break, laid again and gone broody again. This is driving me crazy!

Sugar is so determined. I take her out of the nest box every time I go in to the run and yet she is showing no signs of loosening at all. I took a photo of the two broodies in the nest box and then lifted them out to the patio. I only had time to take one quick snap before Sugar headed straight back in again.

Two broody girls in a nest box
I lift the broody girls out of the nest box
Sugar is heading straight back in again

It’s bad enough that Smoke is a serial broody and only ever lays for two weeks at a time but Sugar staying broody for so long is even worse, especially as she is so young and only ever laid fourteen eggs since she started laying. Shadow has laid forty five eggs so far.

With all the other girls laying there is nothing I can do about this but wait it out. It is so frustrating.

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Salmon lays a good shelled egg, hurrah!

Yesterday Salmon was looking in the nest boxes and I felt sure that she was getting ready to lay again. Flame had also been looking in the nest boxes for a couple of days and laid her first egg since going broody yesterday and her second one today.

It had been three weeks since Flame last laid and it had also been three weeks since Salmon last laid. I felt a bit nervous about Salmon coming back into lay.

Today Salmon went in the nest box a couple of times and came out again. A little later Salmon settled in the nest box.

Salmon had been going in the nest box
A little later Salmon was settled in the nest box

I waited with baited breath. A little later I heard the egg shout. I went to check and Salmon was vigorously scratching in the run which was a good sign.

I checked the nest box and there was her, smaller than usual egg, with her signature blob of poop next to it.

Salmon’s small egg next to a blob of poop
Salmon’s egg in the middle of Shadow’s and Smoke’s egg

Shadow’s egg is on the left, Salmon’s egg is in the middle and Smoke’s egg is on the right.

I am so relieved that Salmon has got her egg laid without a problem. I am also glad she has started again with a small egg.

I am hoping that her recent problem was just a blip and that she will be okay in the future. Only time will tell but for now I am so happy to see this.

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Updates

Yesterday four girls were dust bathing in the sun in a row. I managed to take one photo and then before I could get closer the battery died. I do wish my camera gave me some warning when the battery is low.

A row of dust bathing girls

Salmon is looking great. It is two weeks since she last laid and I am rather apprehensive of what will happen when she starts laying again. It is also two weeks since Flame last laid and she has been looking in the nest boxes over the last couple of days so I know that she is getting ready to lay again.

Salmon is looking great

Sugar is still broody after three and a half weeks. She was a month later laying than Shadow and then she only laid for two weeks. Eleven eggs then broody which is the quickest of any of our girls.

It takes three weeks to hatch an egg so usually even if you leave a girl to be broody they start to come out of it after three weeks.

Sugar is still broody after three and a half weeks
I put Sugar in the run

I lift her out every time I go in the chicken run. I put her in the run and she just sits like this. I give her a little shove or several and she will run off and have a dust bath at speed then straight back in the nest box or sometimes she will just turn round and go back in.

For one and a half weeks we were getting one egg a day and I was closing the nest boxes and just letting in the laying girl each day. That was when Sugar spent her whole time jumping on me.

Gradually the non laying girls started up again and for the past week we have had two, three or four eggs a day so I can no longer close the nest boxes. This means Sugar has been staying in the nest box all the time except when I lift her for a break.

Sugar is showing no sign of coming out of this and we are wondering how long she is going to keep this up.

Apart from Flame who is looking like starting to lay again any day now there are only Sugar and Salmon not laying. It’s a pity Salmon can’t just stop laying for the rest of the summer but I know that she will start again soon.

I am just keeping everything crossed that Salmon will be able to lay okay and I am hoping that Sugar will give up being broody soon.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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