First Aid kits and Medicines

On Sunday I found my boy Charlie wheezing and blowing out the most pitiful crow.  I immediately panicked, I mean seriously, another sick chicken, and the most important member of our flock.  With the luck we’ve had lately, his mortality has me holding my breath and crossing my fingers that he can recover.  I assessed his symptoms and knew the first thing to do.

The reality of a chicken keeper is the fact that your birds’ medical care is in your hands.  Avian veterinary medicine is specialized, so there are few veternairns that practice Avain care that you would be able to access should your birds fall ill or get injured.  Honestly, the cost of that specialized care is usually beyond what most of us would be willing to pay for, and truly you will be able to treat your birds as well as a vet would anyway, once you acquire some knowledge and experience.

Your best resource is always someone who is experienced in the field of your interest, that is exceptionally true for poultry keeping.  My friend Hilton is 85 years young and has been an invaluable source of knowledge for us in this new endeavour.  When we first got our goslings, we didn’t know a thing about them, and there was very little information about geese on the Internet, so our farm store proprietor hooked us up.  Hilton invited our family over and proudly showed us his beautiful heritage chickens and Call Ducks, he let us ask him as many silly questions as we wanted, and continues to do so today.

The Internet is also a wonderful tool offering answers to almost any questions you have.  I have found Pinterest and “Backyard Chickens” to be extremely useful sites.

Charlie’s wheezing and haggard crow indicated to me some type of respiratory issue. The first thing I want to do is give him some antibiotics, in case he has a respiratory infection.  I moved him into his crate and went in to mix him up some medicated water using Tetracycline.  Tetracycline is a common livestock antibiotic that you can get at your farm store and you should have it on hand in case of emergencies.  I have been ensuring he is getting his medicated water by giving it to him using a syringe as a dropper, about 4-5 times a day, (syringes are also available at your farm store).

Below is a picture of the Tetracycline package as well as a Piperazine package, which is a livestock dewormer that you should also have on hand.

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Three days later Charlie appears to be recovering, I am keeping him outside in the fresh air and do not intend on putting him back in the coop until it is cleaned out this weekend.  Fingers crossed Charlie continues to recover.

A First Aid kit is also an essential, injuries are common place in chicken keeping.  Below is a picture of my First Aid kit.

-Epson Salt, can be used for a multitude of treatments, google it.

-Vaseline, wound care and also used in frost bite prevention on combs and waddles.

-Corn Starch, stops bleeding.

-Electric Tape, use to tie up a lame wing, use as a sling.  The tape stays in one place and electric tape is flexible.

-Hydrogen Peroxide, wound disinfectant.

-10 ml syringe to administer medicine, electrolytes and water to sick birds.

-Stretch bandaging tapes and gauze.

-Nail files and cotton swabs.

Out of all of these items, I used Vaseline the most, it is a wound fix all!

During your experiences as a Poultry Hobbiest, you will fill your First Aid kit with items you find useful 🙂

 

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Round 2 and New Additions

Our chicks are just over 2 weeks old now and all have survived that delicate time period.  They have moved out of the smaller brooder totes to a larger brooder in our basement; a repurposed childrens plastic pool.

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They will stay here and continue to feather out for about 2-3 weeks before they move outside.  Hopefully the weather will continue to warm up, the sooner they are outside the better, as you can imagine.  From this batch we have 13 Ameraucanas and 8 OEEs.  Over the next 3 weeks, they will be closely monitored to ensure their lungs stay clear of infections and that they continue to put weight on and grow.

These photos were taken yesterday, the one on the left is the Ameraucana chick, on the right is the OEE.

On Tuesday of this week we filled up the incubators with 31 eggs, 20 OEE eggs and 11 Ameraucanas.  This was a tough egg collecting period as the Ameraucana breeding hens’ egg laying was very slow.  We were able to successfully add our Blue Maran hen, Dottie to the breeding pens to contribute.  Her addition added one more hen to the OEE collection over the Ameraucanas, helping boost the OEE numbers.

Hilda has happily recovered from her leg injury, she needed to be separated from the flock for 3 weeks to mend.  We hope to add her to the next round of breeding, her addition will even the breeding groups to 3 hens each.

In order to have our pullets reach 14 weeks by the end of August we need to have all our eggs hatched by the end of May, so we will be setting our last batch in mid May (a week shy of our goal).  We hope to add a few batches in June and early July and make straight-run day old chicks available for sale.

This week we added 3 Pekin ducklings to our family.  Waterfowl make wonderful backyard pets.  They tolerate 4 seasons very well and have a durible immune system.  If you get them early enough after hatch they will “imprint” upon you, seeing you as a member of their flock, making them wonderful and loyal pets.  We keep them in the house for a couple of weeks, after they feather out they will get to go outside.  We are hoping that our goose Jessy will take kindly to them and train them to know the property boundaries.  Some breeds of ducks can “out lay” a chicken by double and with more consistency.  Some breeds can lay over 300 eggs a year, our Pekins will lay about 150 eggs per year.

A Rough Start

Every morning I enter the garage to a chorus of crows from our roosters eagerly waiting to be escorted to the coop to start their day.  Today was a bit different, a bit more quiet.

Ragnar our gorgeous Splash Maran lay dead in his crate.

He demonstrated no illness, he was happily eating and looking after his hens yesterday. I am baffeled.

With all the loss lately it is hard not to question yourself, to wonder, what am I doing wrong?

Chickens are a fragile bunch, and I have read similar stories from other new comers to the poultry hobby, trying to navigate the loss and the frustration.

We have a goose, and she has eaten things that would kill most other creatures, but she forges on, bringing us immense joy day after day.  She is steadfast in the rain, hail, wind and snow, not sniffling, sneezing, gagging or anything. I think water fowl must have a stomach with the constitution of an iron pot and an immune system made of armour.

There are challenges and enrichment from owning and caring for both, and each comes with a compromise.  Chickens get sick and injured easily and geese are moody.  You can’t have it all I guess.

With the difficult start to our first season, it is obvious that we have some things to learn, and maybe a change in plan is needed.  Getting through the first year is rough, lots of kinks to work out and experiences to be achieved, guaranteeing that next season, we will be better.

Ragnar left us with some beautiful babies, we are very sad to lose him.

Here he is standing on the food shelter.  He is also the rooster featured on our Rooster Adoption page.

R.I.P Ragnar April 8, 2016

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Hatching Day!

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“Oh ye of little faith!”.  If Charlie could talk, I’m sure he’d give me a piece of his mind; how dare I question his manliness!  About 75% of his chicks hatched and 95% of Ragnar’s hatched.  I have 8 eggs left in the incubators and as the hours pass by, the likelihood of them hatching lessens.  One chick died during pipping (when the chick pecks it’s way out of the egg).  For our very first batch I think we did very well.  The Ameraucana and Olive Easter Egger (OEE) chicks are beautiful and healthy.  At this moment we have 13 Ameraucanas and 8 OEEs.

We crossed our Maran roo with our Ameraucana hens to produce the OEEs, they have hatched with lovely muffs and beards from the Ameraucanas and feathered legs from the Maran.  Some of them are very light in colour and look similar to our Blue Maran when she was a chick, so I can’t wait to see what colour they turn out to be, maybe blue!  What I do know is that when you cross a Splash Maran to a Black Maran, you will always get a Blue Maran, so maybe the same will result here when we cross a Splash Maran to a Black Ameraucana.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Some of our Ameraucanas have hatched out light; they have come from a blood line that also produces Blues and Splashes, so again, it will be neat to watch them fill out and see their colours.

My job is to keep the babies bed, water and food clean, and baby chicks are very messy!  It is also very important to keep their bums clean,  “pasty bum” is a potentially deadly condition that chicks are susceptible to.  Their poops can be very loose and it can become matted into their “vent”,  therefore impeding the evacuation of further bowel movements.  It is necessary to regularly check their bottoms and if there is matting around the vent, it needs to be cleaned.

We start our chicks on folded up sheets in their brooder for the first week.  A chick’s instinct is to peck at the ground to find food, so if you have wood shavings on the floor of their brooder, they will try to eat it.  The wood will obstruct their crop and they will die.  We’ll use shavings once they become familiar with their food and where to find it.

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We also put marbles in their water dish to protect the chicks from drowning.

Raising chicks does not have to be difficult or fancy, we use a Rubbermaid tote as a brooder and to provide the necessary heat, we use two 40 watt light bulbs.  To keep the heat in, we cover the totes with a thin beach towel.

They’ll stay in these totes for about 2 weeks, then we move them into a larger brooder (a child’s plastic pool wrapped in chicken wire) in the basement.  They will stay there for about another 3- 4 weeks (pending weather).  Once they have their feathers, it is safe to move them outside to their chicken tractors.

The first time we collected eggs for hatching we were able to collect 34 over a 10 day period. We are down a hen and the weather has been overcast and cold; the past 10 days we collected 23 eggs and 17 of them were OEEs.  Our Ameraucanas stop laying for 4 days.  They just started laying again and their eggs are rather small, too small to put in the incubator.  We are forecasted to have temperatures above +5 over the next week, so I’ll wait for the egg numbers to go up, and the Ameraucana eggs to get bigger before I start to collect again for the incubator.  Also  note that we are 1 Ameraucana hen down due to injury.  The good news is that Hilda is on the mend 🙂 The bad news is that she will not be contributing until she has completely recovered.

Keep checking in, as I’ll post pictures of their progress.

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Loss

It has been a difficult week for us at Down by the Bay Backyard Poultry, and it had ended with a sad loss.

Last week Hilda (Ameraucana), had injured her leg and she has been in isolation for most of the week.  At the same time our Naked Neck, Simon’s health began to deteriorate.  He was cold and sleeping a lot.  He started to eat less and sleep very heavily to the point where I had to nudge him to wake up.   One morning I put him by the food trough and he stood there asleep for the entire time it took me to clean the coop.  I put him on the roost and his toes began to curl, I then knew something more serious was wrong then just a cold rooster.  I moved him into the house in a crate.

We had an injured hen in the garage who was not eating or drinking by herself and a sick rooster in the house who was not eating or drinking by himself.  I mixed up 2 batches of electrolyte water (recipe at bottom of page), and spent the next 3 days hand feeding and watering both birds.  Simon continued to deteriorate.  I thought he might have worms, so I purchased some dewormer at the farm store and gave that to him; no result from that, so no worms.

On Thursday Hilda ate and drank on her own, and seemed more inclined when someone was in the garage.  Friday she would not eat or drink on her own and would sit in the corner of the crate.  When someone was in the garage she would stand up to the door.  I figured she was lonesome, then I thought, for goodness sake, I should have put her in the brooder box in the coop. She would still be isolated, and therefore not at risk of further damage to her leg , and she can see and hear the other birds.  As soon as I relocated her there she was happily eating and drinking and standing up on her sore leg.  So here is hoping she is on the road to recovery; and I have learned a better way to rehabilitate an injured chicken.

When the dewormer did not work for Simon, I called my Poultry mentor Hilton, he figured Simon probably had a heart condition, which would make sense.  He was always smaller, quieter and slept a lot.  He was always cold, which may be due to poor circulation.

Simon was a favourite of ours, he was sweet and interesting; a real character.  When I would clean up the roost, he would perch there and watch me or take a nap while I worked.  He was adorable in his homemade jumper with buttoned up sides.             I miss him.  I never thought I’d be so sad to lose a chicken.

R.I.P Simon, April 1, 2016

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Electrolyte Water: 1 cup water, 2 tsp sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp baking soda.