Spot’s gone

I am still in shock that we lost Spot yesterday. It was so sudden. She had been dust bathing, running around, rushing to the treats and seemed her usual self.

I went up to the girls late afternoon and Spot was sitting with her eyes closing. I knew straight away something was wrong. I picked her up and inspected her. Everything felt normal. Her chest and crop felt normal and there was no sign of an egg problem which is the first thing I look for.

I set her back down in the run and she moved away. I checked back in ten minutes and was shocked to see her laying in the run. I thought she was gone already but she was still breathing. I picked her up and put her in a nest box so she would be somewhere more comfortable.

I kept checking on her and she hadn’t moved. I felt that she wasn’t suffering because she looked like she was asleep. I kept checking on her and she was gone a little later. I left her closed in the nest box overnight and we buried her in the chicken’s strip this morning.

We dug up a yellow poppy and buried her and then replanted the poppy over her and marked her spot with a wooden cross.

Spot was not looking well
Spot opened her eyes when I went to pick her up
Ten minutes later I found Spot like this
I moved Spot to the nest box and she remained like this
Spot’s resting place under the yellow poppy
The chicken’s strip

I believe that Spot had heart failure as I have seen this before with Sienna and then Jasmine who were siblings. I think that if she had a heart defect that would have caused her to be unable to lay eggs and then her heart just suddenly gave out.

For Spot it was a quick way to go and she has had eight happy months with us. For me it is heart breaking. I waited two summers to get Spot. She was a year old last month. In my heart I knew that because she had never laid there must be something adrift but she looked vibrant and beautiful.

She had grown in confidence since we had her and had a lovely nature. I just can’t believe she has gone so suddenly. I will do a tribute for her soon but at the moment I am still reeling from the shock. She was such a beautiful girl and I will miss her.

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Flame and Sugar are laying again

Yesterday Flame laid her first egg since her broody spell. Today Sugar laid her first egg since her broody spell and Flame laid her second egg.

It’s two weeks since both these girls came out of their broody spell. I knew Flame was getting ready to lay again as she has been practising for the last couple of days.

I was surprised that Sugar was getting ready too as she had been broody for such a long time but yesterday she was in the grit then looking in the nest box and today she settled in the nest box and got her egg laid.

Flame and Sugar are back in lay

From the left is Storm’s egg then sugar’s egg. Next is Snowflakes egg then Gold’s egg with Flame’s egg on the right.

I was just on the verge of buying some eggs as we only had two regular girls laying but now with four regular girls laying there is no need to buy any. The eggs should soon build up again.

Well done girls!

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Ever changing eggs

Spangle’s egg today was much more the shape that her eggs used to be. I think she has got over her blip at the start of laying and is now back to normal.

Spangle’s latest egg

Spangle’s latest egg is on the left and is her usual torpedo shape. Storm’s egg is next then Snowflake’s egg and then Gold’s egg on the right.

I am so glad that Spangle is back to laying normally and she seems absolutely fine.

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Egg comparisons

Storm laid her second egg two days after her first egg. It was very slightly bigger.

Spangle has now laid three eggs each a week apart. Her egg today was the same small size and darker colour as her last one.

The reason I thought Spangle’s last egg was Storm’s egg was it’s small size. It is exactly the same size as Storm’s egg. I was surprised at the colour though as I had read that modern game lay a white egg but then when I did further research I saw that game girls’ eggs can vary a bit in colour.

Spangle’s eggs were usually beige but I think because her eggs are now smaller they are darker in colour. The pigment doesn’t have to stretch so thin on a smaller egg which can give a darker colour.

An egg comparison

Spangle’s egg is on the left. Next is Storm’s second egg and then her first egg. Next is Snowflake’s egg and Gold’s egg on the right.

Again with a coin for size comparison

Flame had a short practice in the nest box today which means she will probably start laying in the next day or two. It is two weeks since her last egg. It will be good to have another girl laying regularly.

Snowflake hasn’t laid for four days which is the longest since she started laying. She seems to be taking a break.

Salmon and Spot are still yet to start laying. We have had girls not lay very often in the past but we have never had a year old girl not start laying. Spot is a mystery.

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Mistaken identity and Storm’s first egg

Today Storm spent some time scratching in the nest box before settling ready to lay. I took a few photos because she is such a quirky shape. I think her long legs make it difficult to sit comfortably.

Storm with shavings on her back
Storm’s long legs stick out
Such a pretty, quirky, girl
Almost ready to lay

A little later and Storm had laid her egg. A tiny, white, egg. I realised that the previous egg that I thought was hers couldn’t have been.

Storm’s egg on the left, Snowflake’s egg in the middle and Gold’s egg on the right
Storm’s egg with coins for size comparison
The previous egg for comparison

I now believe this egg was Spangle’s second egg and being smaller than usual has caused it to be darker in colour. I know it can’t be Spot’s egg because bantam silver spangled hamburgs lay white, medium sized eggs. Also Spot hasn’t shown any interest in the nest boxes lately whereas Spangle has been in and out quite a bit.

Salmon’s eggs are almost round and pale plus she hasn’t been showing any interest in the nest box. This egg was laid a week after Spangle’s first egg so it would make sense. It is the darkest egg we have had. The good news was it had a good shell. We have eaten the egg so I could only use the photo for comparison.

I will be more certain when a few more eggs are laid but it’s the most likely conclusion I can come to.

Modern game only lay in the spring months for breeding so she will probably only lay for a few months but it will be interesting to see often she lays.

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I thought Snowflake was broody

Snowflake lays two days running then miss a day then two days running. She has followed this pattern since she started laying.

Gold will lay for anything up to six days running before missing a day and then laying again.

A couple of days ago Snowflake returned to the nest box soon after laying. I had wondered if she was going broody because she sometimes had the stance of a broody girl.

I closed the nest boxes at bedtime and Snowflake perched in the chicken shed but the next day she returned to the nest box. For the first time Snowflake allowed me to touch her.

Snowflake in the nest box
Snowflake allows me to touch her

I was sure that Snowflake was broody. She would never usually let me touch her like this. I lifted her out of the nest box.

Some of her behaviour was like a broody but some wasn’t. When Sugar is broody and I lift her out she is full of anger. She will chase the other girls and scratch at speed then return to the nest box.

Snowflake was completely docile and bothered no one. She took her time having a scratch and some water and some food. She was in no hurry to get back to the nest box but did eventually return.

I had mixed feelings about this. Snowflake wasn’t supposed to be a broody breed. If she was broody we would be down to only one regular egg layer for now.

On the other hand compared to past broodies Snowflake was totally docile and even allowed me to handle her for the first time since we got her.

Again I closed the nest boxes at the end of the day and Snowflake went into the chicken shed but this time she was sitting in a corner. I put her on the perch and she remained perching.

This morning Snowflake was out in the run when I first went out. I opened the door of the chicken shed to clean up and there was Snowflake’s egg in the corner of the shed.

Snowflake had missed two days laying instead of one. Snowflake is back to normal and has been out in the run all day. Not broody after all which I am pleased about.

So what was this! It seems that she thought she should be laying her egg. She has never missed two days before. I have never seen this behaviour before. Very odd!

It is good to have all the girls out in the run together and whatever this was with Snowflake it seems to have passed.

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Size comparisons between the girls

Sophie asked if I could take photos to show a size comparison between the girls. She said it may be easier said than done and so it proved.

Snowflake by name and Snowflake by nature is difficult to photograph because as soon as she sees the camera she moves away. Gold and Storm are the opposite and as soon as they see the camera or more precisely my hands, they run to me and dive bomb the photo. I cant get back from them as when I step back they follow.

The rest of the flock are easy as they are used to the camera and take no notice. In the end I had to resort to treats to distract them. One of the photos is blurred but I kept it as it showed size comparison well.

Snowflake between Salmon and Spot
Spot, Salmon and Snowflake
Spot looks magnificent

I can’t understand why this amazing looking, one year old girl, isn’t laying yet.

Spangle and Storm
Gold compared to Storm and Spangle
Gold and Storm compared to Spangle
Snowflake on the right
Although blurred this photo shows size comparisons quite well
Snowflake in the background
Gold and Storm

Snowflake is wide and chunky and heavy but has short legs and is very low to the ground. Gold is taller but slimmer and lighter. Storm is tiny in body and very light but has long legs and a long neck.

Flame is the largest and heaviest girl. Spot is next in size but is much lighter than Flame. Spangle and Sugar are similar in size to each other with Salmon being a bit smaller. Storm is smallest of all despite her height.

Both Gold and Storm like to jump on me and follow my every move. They “help” me clean up by either riding on my back or pecking around my fingers and toes.

I can’t move in the run without their supervision. When I enter the run Gold steps on to the threshold of the gate and I have to lift her away to go in. She doesn’t mind me picking her up at all.

Snowflake has taken over digging duties and is always digging deep holes. She has quite large feet. I would have liked a photo of her digging one of her huge holes but every time I approached with the camera she abandoned her digging only to return as soon as I moved away.

And in other news it only took two nights in the crate for Sugar to come out of being broody. Two nights and just the one day in between. I think because she had been broody so long she was more ready to come out of it.

Perhaps next time I should try to break her out of it sooner. I would like to leave it to nature but as she was broody a month the first time last year and a month first time again this year I suspect that she will always be this committed.

For now it is great to be in a broody free zone!

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Storm’s first egg

For the last few days Storm has been trying out the nest boxes. Today I found her tiny egg in the nest box. I didn’t actually catch her in the nest box but the egg is so tiny that it has to be hers. Gold and Snowflake had already laid their egg today.

Storm’s first egg on the left, Gold’s in the middle and Snowflake’s on the right
Storm’s egg with some coins for size comparison

What a sweet little egg and what a clever girl! It looks like Spot is going to be last girl to lay if she ever does. Spot is a year old and it is a mystery as to why she hasn’t started laying.

In other news Flame is through her broody spell and Sugar is now in the dog crate. She has been broody for a full month now and is showing no sign of giving up.

Sugar’s turn in broody jail

I wonder how long she would go on for if I left her to it. I can’t leave her any longer because the longer she goes on the more committed she becomes and she no longer takes breaks. I worry that she will lose condition and also it’s no life for a chicken sitting day and night.

I am not sure how long it will take to break her of this but I hope it won’t be too long.

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Spangle gave us a fright

Yesterday I could see that Spangle wanted to lay her first egg of the year. Spangle was in the nest box for quite a long time.

When I went to check on Spangle I thought that I had caught her in the throes of laying as she was in the position and was straining.

Spangle is trying to get her egg laid

When I next checked on Spangle she was out in the run and no egg was in the nest box. I picked her up to check on her and she had a messy bottom. I cleaned it as best I could with kitchen roll.

A bit later Spangle returned to the nest box and had another try. Once more she was straining and then she gave up without laying.

The next time I checked on Spangle she was in the run and didn’t look right. She had her wings down and her eyes were closing. I guessed that she must have an egg stuck.

Spangle in the run and not looking happy

I felt really upset. It seems that as each serama comes back in to lay they have a problem and I felt as if it was possible that I would lose them one by one. Spangle has never had a problem laying an egg before but then neither had Shadow or Smoke.

I hoped that later in the day if I could see some soft shell I could pull it out. I planned on bathing Spangle the next day if she still hadn’t passed her egg but wasn’t optimistic about that as it has never worked for me yet.

I visualised taking Spangle to the vet over the next day or two. I knew my decision not to have any more seramas was the right one and I visualised soon not having any seramas or being left with only Sugar spending ninety percent of her time in a nest box.

I kept checking on Spangle and each time she hadn’t moved. I then checked back again a little later and Spangle was on the patio area looking back to normal. I was so surprised.

I looked over to the spot in the run where she had been and there in the dirt was her egg. I was so relieved.

Spangle’s first egg of the year on the left

On the right is Flame’s last egg which was smaller than usual. Next is Snowflake’s and then Gold’s and then Spangle’s usual torpedo shaped egg on the left.

I couldn’t understand why Spangle’s egg had been so difficult to pass as it looked fine. This morning I made scrambled egg for breakfast and cracked Spangle’s egg to see what the shell was like.

The shell was wafer thin which explains why it was difficult to lay. I am so relieved that Spangle managed to lay the egg. I am hoping this is just a blip as it’s her first egg of the year.

Luckily Spangle doesn’t lay often. She usually averages an egg once a week. I worry about her next egg but we have to cross that bridge when we get to it and we have still have Salmon to start laying yet.

These girls do know how to worry me.

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Flame is broody as well as Sugar

Sugar has now been broody for just over three weeks and is showing no sign of coming out of it. It takes three weeks to hatch eggs so she should have given up by now but the first time she went broody last year she went four weeks before I decided to break her out of it.

Just as I was thinking that I will have to try and break Sugar from her broodiness Flame went broody too.

Sugar usually leaves the chicken shed in the morning and goes to sit in her favourite nest box. I was surprised to find she wasn’t there. Instead she and Flame were together in the corner of the chicken shed.

I took both girls out and blocked the pop hole of the chicken shed in the hope that it would deter Flame, who had laid late the afternoon before, so I knew she didn’t need to lay.

When I checked a few minutes later Flame and Sugar were together in Sugar’s favourite nest box.

Two broodies together

I know that this looks very cute but I have past experience of this. What happens next is Flame will mother Sugar and Sugar’s behaviour will revert to being a chick. This could then potentially continue all summer so I can’t let that happen.

I decided that as Flame had only just gone broody I would try to break her first before she was properly in the zone. It seems that she was already instantly in the zone though.

I decided to move Flame to broody jail which is the dog crate in the shed. I put a dish of mash and a dish of water in and a perch. I will get Flame out several times a day for exercise.

Flame in broody jail
Flame tucking in to the mash

This usually takes only two days and two nights. While Flame was in the crate I noticed how much her spurs had grown since I did post about them in the past.

A close up of Flame’s spurs

They also point in different directions. It’s lucky that Flame is a placid girl and the spurs don’t pose any problem.

When I said that she was already in the zone it was because it was proved each time I took her out of the crate. I would return her to the run in the hope that she would get some exercise but all she did was race to the nest box while bok boking and sometimes shaking herself and making an angry sound.

I left Flame in the crate over night and closed up the shed. When I opened up in the morning Flame was desperate to get out. I put her in the run and she ran straight to the chicken shed. Every time I take her out she refuses to spend time in the run and makes a bee line for a nest box or the shed.

I can’t close the nest boxes as there are girls needing to lay so I will just have to keep up this regime until Flame comes out of her broody spell. I just hope that it is as quick as it’s been in the past.

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