coopandthegang

The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

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.

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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.

 

Eggs & Poo, Consistency Inconsistent June 5, 2011

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 5:44 am
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Its been another week for Coop & The Gang and I think we’ve had just about everything. I’ve been busy, they’ve been busy, I’ve been unwell, I thought Mave was unwell but all in all things seem to have settled down nicely.

They’ve survived a night on their own without the bed time routine, which says more about their hardyness than mine. Sleeping in my old room at my parents house waking up every few hours hoping my girls wouldbe okay. We came home to eggs, so they were fine.

Thats the next noteable point of the week. We have consistency in laying. 2 a day from Flo & Dorris. Everyday. Half a dozen eggs gifted to neighbours, half a dozen on the side & eggs precariously gathering in the gaps. Our biggest egg from our smallest hen turned out to be a double yolker & our tiny egg from Doris had a tiny yolk. Everything is cuter when its smaller!

Our poor Mave, she was our first to lay but hasn’t in a week. I was starting to think something was wrong. When she came to us she’d had her beak clipped which really should have screamed meanie at us but at the time meant nothing. We call her Mave Bottomtooth the 3rd & make the noise. She’s always had a touch of the sneezes but no other symptoms so we figured it was because her beak was clipped her nose is so much closer to whatever it is she’s snuffling so if its dusty she’ll sneeze.

The worry started with a poo, we were having corn from the back step & Mave stepped back & there was an awful smell & this off coloured more runny type poo.

Turns out Chickens do two kinds of poo, fecal & cecal. The Ceacum is at the point the small intestine reaches the large one & it contains bacteria and enzymes used to break down vegetation & once a day the contents is excreted. Nice. But nothing to worry about.

Then on Friday night we had a bit of a scare she was sneezing a lot more, a bit snotty & it smelt. With a two man attack & she was up in our arms. I attack her with kitchen paper & picked her nose. It was gross but she was bunged up with bits from her snuffling. She sneezed a couple more times & we let her on her way. The sneeze count is down & she graced us with an egg. We had free play in the garden yesterday & she took herself back to Coop snuggled down in the nest box & left a dark speckedly egg.

We’ve bought a mineral supplement for the water to help boost the immunity on our flock & we’ll see if that improves. Im the mean time while there are 4 hands about we’re happy to assist. Her comb is a good size & colour, she’s in good nick & eating & drinking just fine.

We have a second feeder & drinker on the way just to make our routine that bit more flexible but I think this is mostly how its going to be. They are grateful for as much or as little time as you can spare them, a very flexible addition to a less than typical family!