A fish treat for the girls

I thought it would be good to give the girls some fish as a bit of extra protein on a frosty morning. It will help with those last feathers coming in and they love a bit of fish.

A fish treat for the girls
They love their fish treat

I think I can safely say the girls enjoyed their fish. It didn’t last long.

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Sadly we have lost Saffron after only three months with us. She was such a beautiful colour and a good egg layer during her last month with us. I haven’t got a huge amount of photos of her but I have picked out the best ones. I wish now that I had taken more photos recently.

August – Saffron and Diamond’s arrival in our chicken run
September – portrait of Saffron after one month with us
September – Saffron looking beautiful
October – Saffron having mash with her flock mates
October – Saffron joins the two broody girls on the day she laid her first egg
November – one of the last photos I took with saffron in them

Her time with us was all too short but she won’t be forgotten.

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Shock, Saffron has gone overnight

Saffron hadn’t laid for three days. When she wasn’t out in the run this morning I checked the nest boxes. She wasn’t there so I checked the chicken shed. Saffron was laying in the middle of the shed floor and was cold.

I checked her over and there was no sign of anything obviously wrong but her comb was a muddy colour. She had appeared to be fine yesterday and at bedtime. We have had Saffron for three months and she was eight months old. She had been laying for a month and had laid seventeen eggs.

After worrying about Diamond from the start and bringing her back from the brink of losing her I hadn’t had a moments worry about Saffron. This is such a shock.

We buried Saffron in the chicken’s strip and added a plant on top and a wooden marker as usual. Sadly Saffron is now the ninth chicken in the chicken’s strip.

Saffron’s place in the chicken’s strip

I will be doing a tribute to Saffron later today. Sadly I don’t have that many photos to look through. The chicken run seems quiet today.

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Sugar has a short tail

About three days ago Sugar dropped her last remaining long tail feather. Underneath she has a short tail. I have been meaning to take a photograph and have only just got round to it. Sugar’s tail has grown already.

Sugar has a new short tail
Sugar’s tail is growing

Sugar’s tail is about half the length it will soon become. She is the last girl to come through the moult. Sugar, along with her flock mates, will be fully feathered for the winter.

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Diamond perches even higher

Diamond is clearly happy with her new found ability to get up high. From the first day that she found she could get up on top of the wooden shelter she has been up there every day.

Diamond also went from the bottom rung of the ladders in the run to the second rung and then to the third rung. Then today when I checked on the girls Diamond was on the high branch perch above the ladder. This is the highest I have ever seen her and is in fact one of the highest spots in the run.

I had watched Diamond’s progress up the ladder and then on to the perch to a spot in the sun. I wasn’t sure if she could get down again as she was up there a long time. Later I checked and she was back down again.

Diamond’s highest perch yet
A spot in the sun

Sugar is the last girl to moult. Her last broody spell seemed to have triggered a moult rather than starting to lay again. She looks rather shabby with lots of loose feathers and only one remaining tail feather.

Sugar has one remaining tail feather

The moult seems to have gone on for such a long time this year. Seramas usually moult a bit at a time but I think Sugar is different because of her regular bouts of going broody. She has long pins already showing under her short tail feathers so should feather up again soon.

We continue to get eggs from both Snowflake and Saffron. I don’t expect Sugar to lay again this year. Sugar stopped laying at the end of September last year compared to the end of October this year so she has done well. She just needs to get her feathers back in for winter.

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The latest news from the chicken run

I can’t believe it’s two weeks since I last posted, I have got very lax lately. There again there isn’t much news from the chicken run which in itself is never a bad thing.

Saffron has now been laying for two weeks. She usually lays every other day, occasionally laying two days running. She has now laid eight eggs. Her first two eggs had blood streaks on but they have been clean ever since then. They have remained small considering her size.

Snowflake didn’t stay broody for long. Luckily she never commits to it and she resumed laying a week ago and also lays every other day but occasionally two days running. She has laid five eggs since starting again.

Snowflake’s egg on the right and Saffron’s egg on the left
Snowflake’s egg on the right and Saffron’s egg on the left

Considering how much bigger Saffron is than Snowflake it’s surprising that her eggs are smaller.

I broke Sugar out of her broody spell with two nights in the broody crate, two weeks ago, while the temperatures were still warm. That was enough to get her over it and I think she is getting ready to lay again. She has had a look in the nest box and is more vocal. So we may soon have three girls laying which would be good even though Sugar is limited to her maximum of eight eggs.

Yesterday I gave the girls some mash for a treat and also to get an up to date group photo.

The girls have some mash

Snowflake had had a partial moult and grown in new tail feathers. Recently she had a second partial moult and has now grown in new wing feathers. Snowflake is now looking pristine. Gold has also had a partial moult and grown her feathers back in and looks pristine.

Dot seems to keep moulting bit by bit. After recently dropping head feathers and getting pins through she has now dropped most of her tail feathers. Dot seems to be taking longer to get through the moult.

For the last three days Diamond has found a new trick. We have found her on top of the wooden shelter. This has been a surprise because I didn’t think she was able to get up so high. I haven’t yet caught her going up but assume she jumps to the metal table and steps across.

Diamond on top of the wooden shelter
Diamond is joined by Dot and Storm

I was so surprised to find Diamond up here. I am waiting to catch her getting up and down. As she has been here three days in a run I assume that she is quite pleased with her new accomplishment.

That is all the latest news from the chicken run. Eggs are gratefully received and it’s good to have less feathers to pick up each day.

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Saffron lays her first egg

Saffron laid her first egg today. What a clever girl! I really wasn’t expecting her to lay until spring although first year girls can lay through their first winter. Saffron was five months when she came to us. We have had Diamond and Saffron two months now so Saffron is seven months and they usually start about six months which is why I thought she may not lay this year.

I have had seramas start laying at seven months but the bigger girls tend to be a bit earlier. Diamond is nine months and not laying but I am putting that down to her having had gape worm.

Sugar went broody four days ago and then Snowflake also went broody two days ago so we had no girls laying. Saffron went in a nest box yesterday and briefly had a peck at the shavings so I had been wondering if she was getting ready to lay.

Today Sugar was in one nest box and Snowflake in the one next to it. Saffron wanted to go in but kept trying first one nest box then the other. I decided to make it easier for Saffron by putting Sugar and Snowflake together in one nest box and leaving the one next door free for her.

Sugar and Snowflake are broody together

Things never go according to plan though and Saffron now decided that she would like to join the broody girls.

Saffron looks in the broody girl’s nest box
Saffron goes in the nest box
Saffron joins the two broody girls
It’s a bit of a squeeze

At this point I changed tactics and lifted the two broody girls out of the nest box and settled them both in the one next to it.

Saffron settles in her own nest box

I didn’t lift the lid as I didn’t want to disturb Saffron now that she was in her own nest box. Saffron was being very vocal. She sounded rather like a duck.

When I went back to check Saffron was out in the run and there was her first egg in the nest box. It was smaller than I expected but they will probably get bigger in time. It had the tell tale streaks of blood that first eggs often have and it was quite long in shape.

Saffron’s first egg on the left

Saffron’s egg is on the left, Snowflake’s egg is in the middle and Sugar’s egg is on the right. These were Snowflake’s and Sugar’s last eggs before going broody. Saffron has timed her start of egg laying well as for now she will be our only egg layer.

It will be interesting to see when her next egg is and how good an egg layer she will be. Well done Saffron!

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Dot has the second half of her moult

Dot has had a moult of two halves. She moulted her longer feathers through June and July and stopped laying. She looked quite good throughout and soon looked fully feathered again. She then started laying again throughout September.

At the beginning of October Dot started moulting all her tiny feathers and stopped laying again. This time it has been much more noticeable as she has moulted her feathers around her face, comb, head and neck. She soon had pins through but she looks very odd.

Dot has moulted her head feathers
Dot has a head full of pins
Dot’s neck is a mass of pins
Poor Dot is looking very odd

Moulting her head and face feathers has really changed her appearance but her pins will soon open and Dot will look beautiful once more.

In other news Sugar has gone broody again after laying her usual eight eggs in twelve days. As it’s the end of the year I think for now I will just leave her be. I will get her out of the nest box at least three times a day for breaks and will move her to the chicken shed at the end of the day.

I will consider breaking Sugar out of it if she goes on for too long but for now I will just see how she goes. Snowflake is now our only egg laying girl. She has turned out to be a really good egg layer.

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Diamond looks amazing


Diamond now has a beautiful fluffy white bottom. She looks the best she has looked since we got her.

We have now had Diamond and Saffron exactly two months. Diamond is now nine months old and Saffron is now seven months old. They are very settled in the flock and tame around me. They now don’t mind the camera at all.

On the first day with us I noticed straight away when I put the girls in the run that Diamond had a mucky bottom. The breeder had put her straight from his box into my cat box without me seeing it. Over the next few days her bottom got muckier and muckier.

The breeder had told me that Diamond was a heavy bodied breed. From the start she was breathing through an open beak when sitting down or after any exertion including dust bathing. At the time it was hot and we had never experienced this breed or indeed any heavy bodied breed before so we weren’t sure if it was just the heat.

It was then that Diamond started making the cough/hiccup sound. At that point I became convinced she had a heart problem. I remembered Sienna making this sound before she had heart failure.

I had just finished worming the girls and we had had the new girls for two weeks when Diamond was sitting on the wooden block that she is standing on in the photo above. She was struggling to breath through her open beak and was now making a gurgling sound. I was convinced she was having heart failure and was ready to take her to the vet possibly to be put to sleep.

It was at this point that I her saw her snaking her neck and shaking her head. This caused me to research gape worm and sure enough the symptoms were diarrhea, laboured breathing through an open beak, coughing and finally snaking the neck and shaking the head. Gape worm is not common and the earlier symptoms were the same as a heart problem.

As I had just wormed the girls with flubenvet which is supposed to be effective for all worms including gape worm, I started researching again, how to get rid of gape worm. The advice was that it is harder to get rid of than all the other types of worms and needs double the dose of flubevet. It also advised a repeat treatment two weeks later.

I immediately added flubenvet to some chopped tomato and offered this to Diamond while she was still sitting on the wooden block. Almost as soon as she had eaten it her symptoms stopped. I continued for seven days with the double dose for Diamond and then repeated two weeks later with a normal dose for the flock and a double dose for Diamond.

From the day that I first gave Diamond the double dose she stopped the open beak breathing. She stopped snaking her neck and shaking her head. The cough/hiccup noise has become only occasional rather than all the time. She moulted her mucky bottom feathers and lovey new feathers grew in. She is now a different bird to the one that we had first taken.

I won’t be using that breeder ever again. I think his birds are rather on the large size for bantams but mostly I think it was pretty bad of him not to have noticed that Diamond had a mucky bottom or if he had noticed to still pass her on to us. Also I am totally not impressed to be sold a bird with gape worm.

I think Diamond struck lucky with us. I always do as much research as possible with any chicken problem that comes my way and I think I pulled Diamond back from the brink in the nick of time. Any longer and she would have asphyxiated.

As it is Diamond is now a beautiful girl and I hope she will go on to have a happy and healthy life with us. I have learned a lot about gape worm the hard way.

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Diamond’s extra dose of flubenvet

After saying in my last post about worming, that I was giving Diamond her extra dose in the chicken shed, I have since found a much easier way to do this.

I found that that method depended too much on getting the timing right and I then discovered a much easier system. After the first couple of evenings I went up after all the girls were in the chicken shed. This is about quarter past six at the moment.

I found the much easier thing was to lift Diamond out once all the girls were perched and give her the flubenvet covered, chopped tomato, on the patio. The girls won’t come out again once they are perched. This means Diamond can have her tomato, with her extra dose, without having to compete. I found that she wouldn’t take it from the dish so I tip it on to the patio. I have no idea why this is but once I tip it on to the patio she quickly takes it. Once finished she returns to the chicken shed.

Diamond has her flubenvet coated tomato after the other girls are in the chicken shed
Without competition Diamond gets her extra dose
Diamond is soon finished and ready to go back in the chicken shed

Monday will be the last day so there isn’t long to go now and this system is working easily. I really hope that we will then be free of this problem.

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