Star has a visit to the vets

Star has such long toes that she sometimes stands on her own toes and is quite clumsy. Nearly a week ago while I was sweeping the chickens’ patio I happened to see her stumble off the edge of the wooden blocks that make the steps from the patio area to the run.

The following day I noticed that Star was limping. I picked Star up and inspected her feet and legs and couldn’t see anything amiss.

It seemed to have knocked her confidence as she wouldn’t compete with the other girls at the food dishes so I put a feeding station just inside the wooden shelter like when she first came to us.

I hoped that Star would get better on her own but over the following days her limp became more pronounced and she was spending a lot of her time sitting down. I decided to separate Star into the corner of the run that Diamond had been in. This would mean that she wouldn’t have to compete for food and she wouldn’t have to get up the steps to the patio area which was a struggle for her.

Star is separated
Star spends most of her time sitting

I phoned the vet and the earliest appointment they had was for this afternoon.

I also decided that while Star was separate I would worm her as I realised that I had wormed the girls just before she came in. While separate it would be easy to put the powder in her mash or in a dish with some sunflower hearts.

Meanwhile Diamond has a mucky bottom once more and sometimes makes a slight snoring sound. I am hoping that it is because dead worms are blocking her up a bit rather than live worms. I have found gape worms in her poop and on the patio area so I think she is coughing them up and pooping them out. I am cleaning up umpteen times a day to try to keep it as clean as possible. I decided to take the opportunity to talk to the vet about the whole gape worm situation while I was there.

At the vets we put Star on the floor so that the vet could see her limp. I then held Star while the vet gave her legs a feel all over. She concluded that it was her ankle that was causing her pain. She said that Star had torn her ligament. There is nothing that can be done to help fix it and it should get better on it’s own but will take time. She gave me some metacam for pain relief. It is a honey flavoured mixture that we can syringe to her beak.

The vet said that it would be best for Star to stay as inactive as possible. When I told her she was separated and the space was small and flat she said that was perfect.

In between I had run the vet through the whole situation with Diamond. She said that I was doing all the right things and she had no tips or advice to add. I said that when I realised after six months and lots of worming that Diamond still had gape worm I had considered having her put to sleep for the safety of the flock but decided that as gape worm had been amongst the flock for six months that I would have another go at trying to rid her of them.

I said that if I can’t get Diamond clear of gape worm after the next worming I may have to consider having her put to sleep because I can’t keep on worming so heavily on an ongoing basis. The vet absolutely agreed that I was right. She said difficult decisions have to be made for the good of the flock and Diamond herself and they would be totally on board with that.

I said it scares me that the other girls could get it and that I had read the eggs can stay in the soil for three or four years. I am paranoid if I see a girl eat a worm because worms eat the eggs and pass them on. She said that unfortunately you can’t disinfect soil. I said that I am cleaning the run all the time and she said there isn’t anything else I can do.

It was good to know that the vet thought I was doing everything right and as she said doing all that I can. Hopefully Star will start to feel better soon and will gradually heal. This is the first time in all of my chicken keeping time that I have had a girl have an injury.

With Diamond only time will tell. I hope I can get her through this but I also know that I have to be realistic. I can only do my best.

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Diamond is out of confinement and Sugar is broody already

Yesterday Diamond had her seventh day of a double dose of flubenvet in water syringed to her beak. Since she has been separated she has eaten just enough to keep her going so we had to keep giving it to her this way to make sure she was getting a full dose. During this time I have found gape worms in her poop. I hope that by giving her this bigger dose we can rid her of them. We will repeat in three weeks as recommended to break the cycle. We don’t want to take any chances of not eliminating them this time round.

Diamond celebrated leaving confinement by stretching out in the sun
Diamond soon found her favourite spot on the ladder in the sun

Meanwhile Sugar has gone broody already. She has laid seven eggs in fourteen days. We seem destined to only have three girls laying. Storm resumed laying just as Sugar stopped. Luckily three girls laying gives us enough eggs to keep us going.

Sugar is broody already
I lift Sugar out of the nest box for a break

In view of all the egg laying problems we have had in the past I have decided that for now I will just leave her to it. I may try to break her out of it if she goes on too long but will see how it goes. Sugar is the most committed broody we have ever had so time will tell.

Diamond has settled back happily with the flock. She is now eating pellets again and went straight to her own perch in the chicken shed last night. A few days ago I cleaned her bottom again.

I will be repeating the worming process again in three weeks time but I will now know that if she has a mucky bottom again it is probably a sign that she still has worms. I really hope we can get rid of them this time around as I don’t know where else we can go from here otherwise. I am keeping everything crossed.

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Storm is back in lay and an update on Diamond

For the last few days Storm had become more vocal and had been looking in the nest boxes. I felt sure she was getting ready to lay again. It’s been three weeks since she last laid before briefly going broody.

Yesterday she was scratching around in each of the two nest boxes before settling in one of them. Meanwhile gold was in the corner of the chicken shed and Sugar settled in the other nest box.

Storm was picking up pine shavings and putting them on her back
Storm has a pine shaving stuck to her beak

A little later Storm came out giving the egg shout. This was followed by Gold and then Sugar. All three girls laid in quick succession. Dot had laid the previous two days so it was her turn to miss a day. Storm’s egg is quite big for her small size and Sugar’s egg is the typical round shape that seramas seem to lay.

Dot’s egg is on the left followed by Gold’s egg then Storm’s pointy egg then Sugar’s round egg on the right
The eggs in the egg stand in the same order

Diamond has two more days of her double dose of flubenvet to go. After the first day we switched to giving her the full dose once a day as it is less stressful for her to be picked up once instead of twice.

This morning there were gape worms in her poop so the flubenvet is working. She is still eating very little though. She will only eat a small amount of her favourite things. She will peck at apple, eat a few spinach leaves and eat a few sunflower hearts and a bit of corn. It seems like she is eating just enough to get by but I hope if we can clear the gape worm she will start eating normally again.

We are not out of the woods yet and only time will tell if we can get Diamond through this. We can only keep doing what are doing and hope for the best.

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Diamond still has gape worm

I have felt for some time that all was not right with Diamond. I had wondered if she still had gape worm but she wasn’t showing the symptoms that she had last time. Recently though, as well as the mucky bottom, she has been making a snoring sound when breathing which indicates the possibility of a bit of a blockage.

Then a few days ago Diamond pooped on the chickens’ patio area and I saw the gape worms. I had researched them last time so I knew what they looked like. They look like thin red threads.

I had wormed the flock recently but it takes a double dose for gape worm. They are really difficult to get rid of. The biggest problem with Diamond is that she is really difficult to treat. If it was any of the other girls I could put the flubenvet in a treat and separate them and they would hoover it up.

Not so with Diamond. I tried holding a dish of chopped tomato and powder in front of her and she refused to have any. I even tried moving her to the dog crate in the shed and putting the dish in with her but she refused to have it. Any slight stress and Diamond won’t eat anything no matter what treat it is. I also tried getting her out at bedtime when the other girls were in and giving her the dish of tomato but she refused to touch it and just wanted to go back in. This worked last time but not now.

This causes a real problem with treating her. I have researched the dose of flubenvet and found it’s recommended to use 24g for 30 birds. This means 12g for 15 birds and so 6g for 7 birds. The measuring spoon is 6g. This means the usual way I worm of one level measure spoon per day between the flock is pretty much the correct amount. The problem is that for gape worm a double dose is needed. This means a third of the measure spoon for Diamond. There lies the problem when I can barely get her to take more than a few pecks.

The flubenvet measuring spoon

Enough powder to make up third of this spoon is quite a lot for a girl who is very reluctant to take it. Diamond probably didn’t get enough last time to rid her of the gape worms completely even though I was giving her extra. This is so frustrating! What terrifies me is the rest of the flock getting gape worm. If eggs or worms are picked up by the other girls they will have them too.

I had to come up with a plan to get Diamond to have the double dose. I decided to separate the corner of the run where the large wooden shelter is. I set up a feeding station just inside the shelter. I put in a dish of water, a dish of mash and a dish of sunflower hearts. I divided the flubenvet between the mash and sunflowers hearts with a little olive oil to make the powder stick. Diamond had taken a few sunflower hearts like this the day before.

I thought it would take quite a big helping of sunflower hearts to take all the powder which would be unhealthy for her so I planned to leave her in her section until she had eaten all the mash. Then she could be returned to the flock.

Diamond’s section of the run
Diamond and her feeding station

I decided to leave her in there all day if need be until she had eaten the mash. She ate the sunflowers hearts straight away but didn’t touch the mash. It’s so difficult to get this amount of powder into her but I decided to just keep trying different ways until I could get her to have it.

By the afternoon when Diamond still hadn’t touched the mash I mixed the flubenvet to more sunflower hearts and olive oil. I decided that in the end it doesn’t matter how many sunflower hearts she eats if she takes the flubenvet but she only ate a few. If I can’t get her to take the medicine then she is doomed.

I don’t know what else to do. I have done loads of research to see if there is something that can be given directly to the beak but can’t find anything available to buy so I just have to keep going with this.

As the day went on I couldn’t get Diamond to eat anything or to have any water. I was beginning to feel a bit desperate about the situation. I decided to move one of the little coups we use as nest boxes into her area and keep her confined until she starts eating. She can use this at bedtime and it’s probably best to have her separated anyway.

The little coup/nest box is installed for bedtime

I put a tarpaulin over it to stop any drips wetting the top of it. Diamond went to inspect it straight away so I didn’t think there would be a problem at bedtime.

As I couldn’t even get Diamond to have water I decided to syringe water to her beak. My husband suggested dissolving some flubenvet in the water so that she at least gets some of that as well as water. What we hope is that if she has some flubenvet and it kills some of the worms she may feel a bit better and start eating again.

I thought that I would know if she still had gape worm because I thought she would show the same symptoms as before which were beak breathing and coughing. This time the only sign was a mucky bottom and a slight snore sound occasionally. Yet I think she must have still had them for some time and I am worried that it might be too late but I have to keep trying to medicate her.

I am so frustrated by this. It was the first seramas we had that bought mico to our flock and now Diamond has bought gape worm in. Considering the research says gape worm is uncommon I feel so unlucky to have this come into our flock. I have to get rid of it or it could risk the whole flock. I am feeling pretty down hearted about this at the moment.

Diamond’s second day in confinement

Flubenvet isn’t soluble. If you mix it with water it will soon separate with the powder at the bottom and the water on top. However, yesterday, when we mixed it with water and straight away sucked it into the syringe it meant that by putting that into Diamond’s beak she was getting some powder and some water. She refused to eat anything yesterday.

Now that we can see that works we have given Diamond the full amount of flubenvet that she needs today. We did it by syringing into her beak splitting it into two lots, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. As I had hoped this has kick started her into eating a little this afternoon. She has had a piece of apple which is one of her favourite things, a few sunflower hearts and a little corn. It’s a start and I am feeling a bit more hopeful today.

We will continue to give the flubenvet like this until Diamond will eat the mash and then I can switch to adding it to mash again. She will need seven days and a repeat of another seven days in three weeks time. I am keeping everything crossed.

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Group photo

I decided to give the girls a couple of dishes of mash so that I could get a group photo. Seeing Star and Dot sharing a dish shows how much Star’s confidence has grown. It also gives a size comparison of the different girls.

Group photo
Sharing some mash

The girls love a bit of mash. It’s a treat that is just their normal food but they enjoy the different texture.

Gold is now laying again after her brief broody spell so we are back to three girls laying.

I am still feeling that something is adrift with Diamond. She is now over a year old and has never laid. She also has a mucky bottom again. I often wonder if having gape worm while only young has caused her some damage. I guess only time will tell but Diamond does concern me. I can only hope for the best.

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Sugar lays her first egg of the year

I had a feeling today that Sugar was getting ready to lay. When I checked on the girls and Sugar was missing I checked the nest boxes. Sugar was in the current favourite nest box by the chicken gate.

Sugar is in the nest box
A bit later Sugar was settled in the nest box

When I checked back a bit later Sugar had laid her egg. It had a blood streak on it like a first egg often has. As long as it’s only on the first egg it isn’t a problem.

Sugar’s first egg of the year has a streak of blood on it
Sugar’s egg in the middle of two of Dot’s eggs

It’s a week later than Sugar starting laying last year. I am so pleased that she has got her first egg laid successfully because after losing two girls earlier in the year I have become a bit nervous of the girls starting to lay. I just hope that Salmon doesn’t lay again this year.

It’s good to see that sugar is looking good. I know that she will probably only lay for a couple of weeks before she goes broody but we are used to that.

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Tweaking the bedtime perches and up to date portraits

After the first evening that Star perched next to Diamond by herself she took to perching on the brackets of the higher perches. It was obvious that she wanted to perch higher with the rest of the girls but I felt that the brackets were definitely not suitable for her feet. I moved her next to Diamond each time but I thought the perches needed to be made suitable for her.

I decided to see if there was something I could add to the brackets to suit Star’s long toes. I went to the D.I.Y/garden centre to find something suitable. I found a piece of picket fence which had a flat side and a curved side. I thought we could cut them to size and fit them over the metal brackets. Luckily by making them a tight fit they didn’t need anything to hold them in place. They were tightly wedged and not about to move.

While addressing this I was also trying to get up to date portraits of the girls. In other news Gold has gone broody again after laying ten eggs in fifteen days. This leaves Dot as our only egg laying girl at the moment. We also had to clip Diamond’s beak again. This is six weeks after we last did it. I think it will need clipping every six weeks.

The wood for covering the brackets is two inches wide on the flat side but two and a half inches wide around the curved side. The main perches are one inch wide and one and a half inch round the curve.

Some wood for wider perches

I took my camera for my portrait shots and my tape measure to measure the width of the perches for comparison. I put the tape measure down while I held my camera and the girls immediately inspected the tape measure. I thought this demonstrated what curious/nosy characters they are.

The girls inspect my orange tape measure
Star on the bracket perch in the corner

Again the quality of the photo isn’t great but Star is on the corner bracket perch and has been joined by sugar. Occasionally the smaller girls used to end up on the brackets and I always mover them to the perches but now if they end up on the brackets they can stay there. You can see behind Dot the width of the bracket perch. There are now four to choose from.

Star has perched here every night since we put them in so that is a success and I am now happy with the perching arrangements.

Before showing the latest portraits I will air my concerns of health issues. After showing a bit of an interest in a nest box it turned out Diamond was just being nosy. She hasn’t yet showed any interest in laying and this concerns me a bit for her health. She also has a mucky bottom once more and I will wash it again. It isn’t all the time. When she came to us she had a mucky bottom but moulted the dirty feathers. Since then I have washed her once and this will be the second time so it’s only occasionally.

Salmon sometimes sits with her eyes closed and it always alarms me. It is probably just her age and at other times she is perky especially when there is spinach on offer. It’s just that I have read that chickens can stop laying for a year or two when at the end of egg laying and then will suddenly lay a few eggs. It terrifies me that she will come back into lay and then run into a problem and we will lose her. I know that Salmon is the most vulnerable of the girls and I must try not to worry as she has had a good innings but I can’t help myself.

Now for current portraits of the girls. It is now easy to get a close up of Star as her confidence as grown enormously both around me and around the flock. I am happy that she is now completely integrated and she no longer runs from any of the girls.



Star has some loose tail feathers. She is having a partial baby moult and dropping a few fluffy feathers.

I am now very happy with how the flock are together and happy with having the right perches for the flocks differing needs. I could just do with more than one egg layer but as long as the girls stay healthy that’s the main thing.

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Star is perching at bedtime

Since Star joined our flock she has been going in the chicken shed at bedtime without any help. She was settling in a corner. I would make sure she wasn’t under the girls where she would get pooped on but decided to leave her settling in the corner until she was more used to the flock. I didn’t want to give her too much to get used to at once.

After four nights I decided Star was ready for me to start training her to perch. Because she has such long toes I decided that Diamond’s perch would be the right size for her feet. We have broom handle sized perches for our smaller girls but Diamond’s perch is about three times as wide.

A reminder of how long Star’s toes are

I waited until after dusk then when the pop hole was closed and all the girls were settled I lifted Star and placed her next to Diamond. I opened the door for a peak a few minutes later to check that she was still where I had put her and she was.

I did this for two nights and expected to have to continue for a while but to my surprise I checked at dusk last night and there was Star next to Diamond. After only two nights Star had got the hang of it and perched next to Diamond by herself. I was ridiculously proud of her.

The flash on my camera no longer works but I took a photo anyway to give the gist of it. Sorry it’s so blurred.

Star is perched next to Diamond

There was also plenty of poop under Star’s roost spot in the mornings so I am happy that she is eating properly.

Star is growing in confidence day by day. She now runs down to the bottom of the run with the other girls when I go up the path to them. She then runs up to the patio area when I go through the gate. She will also sometimes stay on the chickens’ patio while the other girls are there and she joins in with the morning spinach. I think Star is settling in really well.

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Stars first few days with us

The first afternoon Star joined the flock she spent most of her time in the chicken shed and just came out for food and water. On the second day she spent time sitting at the pop hole looking out. We think she was used to being kept in a shed and so this was where she felt at home.

Star sitting at the pop hole

By the third day Star stopped going in the chicken shed during the day and started finding the different parts of the run. She perched in the wooden shelter with the other girls and found the top of the shelter and also ventured out into the bottom section of the run.

Diamond and Star look like bookends

For the first time Storm has gone broody. She has laid eighteen eggs. Gold also went broody recently but I didn’t blog about it because it was when Snowflake and Spangle were poorly and I had stopped blogging as it was so upsetting.

Gold had laid fifteen eggs. She wasn’t very committed and after three days of closing the nest boxes once Dot and Storm had laid she gave up. Nine days later she started laying again. I am hoping the same will be the case with Storm because once I have lifted from the nest box for a break she stays out for a few hours before returning.

Storm has gone broody
Storm remains where I put her for a few minutes

Today is Star’s fourth day with us and I had begun to worry that she wasn’t eating properly. The other girls don’t bully Star but she is so timid that if she goes to the food dishes and another girl then goes to the dish she moves away.

Yesterday I put four dishes of mash on the chicken’s patio spaced apart. Star would have some mash but as soon as another girl went to her dish she would move away.

Today I decided that I needed to put some extra feeding stations in the run to help Star. I have done this in the past with new girls and it has always helped. I decided to put a dish of mash and a dish of water in the shelter and another dish of mash behind the hatch to the bottom part of the run. As both spots are slightly hidden it should help her to feed without being noticed.

Star soon found both feeding stations and this really helped her to get her share. Gold is my regular helper whatever I do in the run so she helped show off the extra feeding stations.

A second feeding station
A third feeding station

After having a good feed Star perked up and joined in a communal dust bathing session albeit on the other side of the wire from the rest of the girls. This is the first time I have seen her dust bath and dust bathing girls are happy girls.

Communal dust bathing with Star on the other side of the wire
Gold helps with dust bathing
Star dust bathing

Sometimes they do look a bit weird when dust bathing but they do enjoy it despite the look on Star’s face.

Gold helps with dust bathing yet again

Gold really likes to help with everything.

I have now added a page with a description of Star’s breed and history. I couldn’t add it to my page – some information about my bantam breeds – because Star isn’t a bantam. So instead I added a new page – my first non bantam girl since I started keeping bantams – it’s the first line under my header photo if anyone wants to have a look or click on the link highlighted in purple.

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A day of two halves


Dot and Storm have been laying their egg on the same day recently. Sometimes I lift Storm to see if she has laid and find that she is sitting on both Dot’s egg and her own.

This morning I checked on them and found them in the current favourite nest box together. They looked so cute that I had to grab my camera.

Dot and Storm share a nest box
Dot shows off her amazing comb

Both girls later got their egg laid.

I have been a bit worried about Diamond because she hasn’t started laying yet but I am now thinking that she may be getting ready to lay. Diamond spent all morning hanging around the nest boxes. It seemed as if she didn’t know where to go if she wanted to lay. She did look in one of the nest boxes and she did look in the chicken shed.

Diamond looks in a nest box
Diamond looks in the chicken shed

By lunch time Diamond seemed to have given up but I think this is a hopeful sign that she may be getting ready to start laying. I would love Diamond to lay an egg just to prove that she is healthy. She has had a clean bottom since I washed it so am feeling encouraged that she may be okay.


Over the last week I have been thinking about adding a new girl. The flock of six feels small and we only have three girls laying so eggs are not as abundant as they could be.

It suddenly came to me that it would be great to add another Flame. Toffee and Flame both had lovely natures and were good egg layers, non broody and long lived. I rang the breeder a few days ago and asked if he had any of the brown and gold game birds to sell. I was disappointed to hear that he had given up breeding the game birds.

I then remembered that last year I really fancied a black star. In the end I found pipenchick and got Gold, Storm and Snowflake. My friend Jackie, many years ago, had a black star and I loved her and remembered her being quite small. Although not a bantam they are quite a small breed and when I researched weights, a bantam light sussex, Diamond, weighs seven pounds and black star hens weigh five pounds so I thought that now we have one bigger girl another bigger girl would fit in quite well.

Black stars are docile, quiet, hardy, usually non broody and good layers of a good sized brown egg. Their eggs range between chocolate brown and pale brown in colour but I don’t care about egg colour as any eggs are good for me.

I researched breeders close to us and found one half an hour’s drive away. I rang the breeder and it turned out that he had just one black star left. She is four and a half months old. I asked if we could collect her straight away and he agreed.

I had run out of black/gold names so I decided to name her Star. I put her on the chickens’ patio area and she went straight to the food and water.

New girl Star
Star goes straight to the food dish

I was really pleased that she found the food and water straight away and that the other girls didn’t take much notice of her. She later went in the chicken shed and had a good mooch round and then went in a nest box. I was happy that she had found all the most important things. I wasn’t bothered about her finding the run as she will in time and that’s not so important.

Two similar looking girls together
Star checks out the nest box
Star’s close up

Star didn’t seem bothered by me or the camera which is great.

Diamond watches Star
The girls gather round to check out the new girl
The girls don’t seem bothered by Star

Star has feathers down the side of her legs stopping at her feet. I was sure that when I researched black stars they should have clean legs. I googled it and it says they don’t have feathered legs. I’m not sure if they will go as she matures or if she has a bit of something else mixed in her breed to give feathered legs. Either way it is what it is and she doesn’t have feathered feet so I am happy with that. I don’t like feathered feet because they get muddy when it’s wet.

A bit later I checked in again and Star had made it as far as the log. She has very long toes.

Star has found the log

It looks like Star is going to fit in very well. I wondered if she would go in the chicken shed at the end of the day but as she had already checked it out I hoped she would.

At bedtime I checked and all the girls were in except Star. She was looking around by the chicken shed and nest boxes and sounding upset. Then suddenly she was through the pop hole without me helping her. She settled under the girls where she was right in the poop line.

I picked her up and put her on Diamond’s perch but she was straight off and settled in the corner by the door. I decided that was fine as she was now out of the way of being pooped on.

I am very happy with Star’s first afternoon with us. She seems a bright girl and has got the hang of everything very quickly. I feel certain that now she has gone in on her own tonight she will find her way in tomorrow night.

It may take a while to teach her to perch but for now as long she goes in at night that’s all that matters to start with. I am very pleased with her. I am happy with our flock of seven.

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