There is a lot of chicken talk going on at our place. Firstly, from us about the chickens and secondly, from the chicken themselves. Our four chickens have made their coop home. They love their coop and training them has been very easy. Such fast learner’s! They all lay their eggs in the nesting box and roost at night in their rest area upstairs. My “One&Only” (O&O) has moved the roosting bars three times to find the right height suitable to our Princess Chickens – the ones that get treated like royalty! Chickens get up very early in the morning, at daylight. That is why I am pleased they can take care of themselves. They get their own breakfast and then generally take the morning slow until they hear sounds from me and my O&O.
There are over 30 different chicken calls. They let one another know where the food is, when a treat turns up or when there is a predator around. Our clothes line is not far from their coop and as soon as the back door opens their chicken talk is very demanding. Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk – it goes on and on! This is their “pay me attention” talk, or “what treats do you have for me today” talk. What I like best is the announcement that they have laid an egg. This is more of a song than talking. Also, when they have had their fruit and veggie treat they wander around talking to one another with a faint clucking sound, very contented. They know my voice and when out free ranging and I appear they come running!
Unfortunately, last week we had a different type of running – runny poop from Sophia. The feathers on her backside should be nice and fluffy but they were not looking too good because of the runny poop. I immediately went to Dr Google and diagnosed her condition. First step was to get some warm water and clean up her feathers. This was a much more difficult task than we expected and my O&O ended up rolling around on the grass while Sophia flew off, out of his arms! We had to go to plan B – contacting the experts, a vet. We have two vets right near us, one across the road and one right next door. We were not after a free consultation, so we made an appointment with the vet that also has backyard chickens. Taking a chicken to the doctor is not something you do every day, in fact, I have never done it before. My diagnosis was not fully accurate therefore it was a good plan to take Sophia to the vet.
This is a video I took of her before we took her to the vet. I thought it would be helpful if the vet, Dr Peter, could see how she was behaving, eating and drinking. Don’t look to close but you will notice her feathers at the back are not as fluffy as they should be! Dr Peter cut off the feathers at the back to reveal lice! As she only moved to our place 2 months ago and everything is very clean in their coop I believe she came with them or should I say they came with her! After treatment, drops directly on her skin in several places, the adventure was over. The next day I treated the other three chickens, as a precaution. Dr Peter said she was a healthy hen. Although her white feathers are dirty from all her dust bathing trying to get rid of those annoying lice! If you know how to clean the feathers of a chicken without bathing them in water, let me know. I wonder how baby wipes would work?
The day after our trip to the vet I replaced all the bedding in their coop, roosting and nesting area. There is a little work involved if you want to have healthy chickens, but it is worth it. Chickens are very entertaining. We enjoy watching their antics and then the next morning sitting down to breakfast eating an egg, just a day old!
After further investigation I have a natural treatment plan in place to keep them healthy. Adding unpasteurised apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. It keeps their immune system at its peak. For the first week every month my plan is to give supplement their drinking water with 20mls of apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”) to 4 litres of water. I wondered whether they would notice the difference but no signs of this as they happily drink away. I think they may even like it! Certainly, it is good for them.
This is what it is all about when you live with chickens. Caring for them and keeping them at their healthy best. In return, they gift us with an egg most days. Today, so far, we have three eggs.