coopandthegang

The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

Wiggly Worms July 31, 2011

So, all quiet with Coop & the Gang. One last dusting with powder & hopefully that’s it for chicken louse for this year. It seems they’ll be back but at least next time we’ll know what to do and know the signs.

The Gang have cheered up and normally has resumed, Mave is up to her aerobatic tricks, being cheeky and generally bullying around. Doris is dust bathing daily and Flo is starting to come into her own, braving a leap to the knee for treats, but I think she knows she’ll always get a back hander from me if she doesn’t look like she wants to join in.

From Ectoparasites to Endoparasites. In our period of discomfort in the gang we noticed a lot of odd poo, chickens poo a lot but its horrific when its not quite the consistency you’re used to.We decided it was a good time to consider worming the Gang as defences with the louse were likely to be low.

There is no truer saying that prevention is always better than cure, but lets face it if there is something on the market to help you out you’d be a fool not to take it. Its important to worm poultry regularly but alongside that managing the hen house and coop alongside that goes along way. Keep things clean, dry and using your common sense can prevent the heartache of a poorly bird, worms can destroy the digestive system of a chicken and indeed in turn the chicken itself. & If your birds get worms, they’ll cost you a fortune to feed and laying may be reduced.

Oddly there is only licensed chemical wormer on the market, Flubenvet, its mixed with feed in a daft ratio, but comes with a handy scooper and whoever you purchase it from will require your name and address. There are plenty of other products out there for other animals that research on the internet has seen that Vets will offer but they’ve not been licensed for poultry and the herbal alternatives appear to only reduce worm numbers rather than remove worms completely.

As this is our first flock we’re doing the best we can first time, so a trip to the farm store and £18+Vat later I was the proud owner of Flubenvet. Now what the hell do I do? Its a white powder and feed them bulky food? Layers pellets were not the answer. So you run to the local petshop and find a suitable alternative feed, conveniently in 3Kg doses so you can mix half the scoop in and know they’re getting the right amount.

You end up with chickcrumb, designed for pullets…6-8 weeks is the latest they should be on crumb, but you’re babies are sicky and you still like to eat rusks so its okay. I lined up my three varying sized Tupperware to mix the half scoop into a small amount, mix into the next Tupperware with the larger amount and then finally into the big one for a good old shake about. I sterilised our second feeder so we started a fresh and the girls knew I meant business.

It went down a storm. Mave had her beak clipped as a chick to mark she was trouble, its still not fully regrown, its getting stronger and we’re on the right track but she does find it harder than the other two to eat, clean and drink with the disadvantage. But they loved it, no fuss at breakfast, no kicking the feeder about and no pooing in it! Hurrah.

This continued for 7 days, on Flubenvet there needs to be no withdraw from eggs which is handy as there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing good eggs go to waste, it brings a tear to the eye. The flock seem happier and I am please we tried it. Its recommended to rework in 6 months time, so I’ll make a note in the diary to do it all again then.

In the mean time, its back to pellets…and the girls aren’t overly impressed. But that’s another blog for another day.

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Lice: A Parents Worst Nightmare July 10, 2011

Lice. Every parent’s worst nightmare. You think you’ve been unhygienic, you think you’ve been unclean. The fact is, Chickens not unlike small human baby children play with, on and near things that you don’t necessarily know what they’ve played with, on or near.

It all started with a tweet in which I requested my dearly beloved to check on our top hen Mave as she’d not laid in two days and just seem a bit sad. Turns out he ignored my tweet, I did my gym session and came home to a pretty fed up hen. She’d been off for a while and non of them were particularly speedy to roost of and evening and Mave wasn’t particularly fussed about getting up in the morning either.

A quick scoop of Mavis and an over all inspection didn’t yield much. A duff beak, wonky legs, good comb and wattle and nothing out of the normal. Then someone decided to back fluff the chicken & she was crawling. Luckily it wasn’t me or I may well have dropped her there and then.

As the hen is returned safely to the ground and the panic sets in, we look over coop, turning bedding, looking in corners, taking out the perches all the while trying to ignore the skin crawling I’ve definitely got them eww gross feeling we both had.

On inspection of coop, it wasn’t red mite, phew. But oh, what was it? I never bought the Haynes Manual for my car, but I bought it for the chicken. Quickly quickly find the page, find the page.

Ahh Menopon Gallinae, the common chicken louse. They fitted the description, small, yellowygreyish in colour and quickly scurry away from light. A quick google search on chicken lice will mean you see all you need to see, or alternatively you can come round and I can show you from baby louse or big gross louse.

Chicken Lice are not life threatening, they feed of dead skin and feather debris on a bird, they do irritate, hence the grumps in the flock and if found in big enough numbers can hamper a chickens ability to deal with day to day bothers of being a chicken. It also means they’re more reluctant to roost and get lethargic. You couldn’t have described Maves change in character more to a T.

Bums. Panic set in again, boy is already at this point removing bedding and I am just wandering around the garden at 7.40pm trying to work out what I can get from where. It took me a while to get to the answer, nothing till tomorrow. We agree there is no point changing bedding till we’ve deloused the birds and we can’t delouse the birds till tomorrow. Lets just be nice to them and go away.

Bugger. Grumpy chickwan explained. Crawling in lice. Beak clipped as a chick means she can’t keep them at bay, gah. Feel bad.

The treatment for chicken lice, is delousing powder which is as glamorous as it sounds. Our local farm and country store opens at 8am, so that was my first pit stop. Two canisters of powder and some ground sanitizer. Turns out we weren’t the only ones struggling with lice and warm damp conditions are meaning a lot of people are struggling to get rid. There is something comforting in knowing its not just you.

Everything in coop had to go, keep them on dust free wood shavings only and a through deep clean with a different cleaner. For our week to week clean and sprays we normally use Poultry Shield, a multipurpose cleaner, organic mater killer and odour neutraliser, but for this one we decided to bring out the big guns. Total Mite Kill…a multi action cleaner with added insecticides…smells like lavender.

In the rain we bagged, scraped and brushed coop. No place left to hide. Then to the birds. Have you ever tried antiquing a chicken? I defy you to succeed antiquing a wet chicken who knows your game. Doris just sulked, she stood out in the rain with her wings out and her head down.

All the tips about laying a chicken on its back and holding legs and keeping head and beak out of the way with one hand were near on impossible for coop and the gang. Plonk the gang member of the table, use all four hands and be prepared to wash your clothes.

The lice aren’t gone and we’re powdering every 3-4 days, bedding change and clean out weekly but spirits have improved and egg production is back up. Once we’re deloused we’ll powder every 6 weeks as the old sayings are the best…prevention is better than cure.

 

Boredom Busting Ideas July 1, 2011

It somehow seems wrong talking about fun when I think if I move I might melt to the sofa, but that was the name of the game this week.

Rightly or wrongly I feel bad for the time the gang are hulled up in Coop, all their freedoms are met and they have plenty of space, food, water, access to shade, sunlight and everything they need. But chickens are a lot smarter than I thought.

& my Chickwans are no different. They know exactly what is going on and where they need to be. Recently we have been trying to expand their routine where possible to stretch their minds and their legs and in some cases their wings.

We’ve made corn harder to reach for, seemingly impossible without a little cunning & thought. This has particularly caught the attention of top hen Mave. I so much as have to bend over to water the plants & I feel like a pirate with parrot Mave on my shoulder wanting pieces of eight. She will do anything for corn, she stamps her feet about working for it but she’ll get there.

If you google entertainment for chickens there are lots of tips and ideas, a few I decided to give a go. I swear these chickens are out to bankrupt me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the most part they will keep themselves amused but I want them to have more fun associated with me. Its all about me!

I tend to have a salad every day for lunch, I tend to have a lot of off cuts, lettuce, pepper, celery so I got a “Boredom Beating Food Ball” from the good people at the Eglu Omlet Shop  Its a wire ball that allows you to fill with anything you wish to keep any pet amused, it works a treat. A great way for them to get some more vitamins and minerals, handy waste disposal and it can be as challenging or not depending on where I place the ball. They like cauliflower more than me, a great share and everyone needs a good stretch in the morning.

The next investment came courtesy of typing chicken fun into ebay and seeing what came up and it turned out to be this lovely little ball from Savic entitled Chicken Fun a wonderful little plastic number with some elastic holding the two sides together for you to put treats inside, in my case meal worms and corn, the more they bat it around the more goodies fall out. I don’t know who had more fun with this, them playing with it or me watching them! Check out the video on the website.

Flo was the first the get her head around it, Doris a close second and Mave, well she point blank refused to even entertain the notion that she might have to work for treats and just kept flapping on my knee. Soon learnt her though.

It’s not a treat they get everyday but its certainly fun watching them all bat it around, trying to swipe it from each other. We’re in full egg production so they can’t be too unhappy. They catch the odd slug in the garden, much to each others great amusement whoever found it runs around the garden hotly pursued trying to find a quiet spot to nom it in peace.

Me, well I’m going to keep feeling guilty about keeping them shut away for too long, working to the pay the bills and saving for the dream of a long lush paddock where the gang can be as free range as they like with some lovely little friends.