The chicks come home!

This morning we were busy preparing for the arrival of the new chicks. Works can’t have them anymore and my colleague who is taking three chicks isn’t able to have them due to risks associated with COVID-19 for her family, meaning all 9 chicks will be here for a few weeks. Fortunately, work is lending me the entire set up and enclosure which makes it easier. They are still too small to go outside but they can cope being in a warm house without the lamp. When they are bit bigger, they will go into a small enclosure in the greenhouse. Such are the difficulties with dealing with chicks without a broody hen!

When we went down the allotment this morning, most people were already down. Rey had already laid her egg and I left Leia with stern words to get busy on laying hers. Ambling down to the main coop, we stopped briefly by Dolly to check how she was. She was out in the run and next to the water bowl. In the main coop, all was as usual and we were greeted with enthusiasm when the bin lids were taken off. Whilst I cleaned out the nest box, my husband sorted out their feeder. We had removed all the old food and sterilised the feeder last night just in case there was any infection from Dolly. An egg collected, and chickens fed, we went to go and sort out Dolly.

Dolly seemed a little more perky today and walked away from my husband when he tried to catch her. He caught her easily and I spent a few minutes attempting to remove more gunk. She was not happy about it and compared to previous day’s, put up more of a fight about it. This is a good sign but her beak still isn’t quite right. I washed off soil and tried to clean up her beak – she had a look of Queen Victoria, “One is not amused.”. Next we have her three syringes of egg yolk with 6 or so syringes of water. Her after has has puréed garlic added to it because apparently it can help with things like this. Dolly definitely prefers the water ones to any others. We also have her a syringe of oil which apparently can help clear the blockages too. The smell which was so appalling a couple of days ago is significantly less which Geoff says is a good sign. From watching her today, she seems to be better able to get herself water although she is still struggling to swallow as her tongue has been pushed aside by the gunk. However, I think she is adapting to it. We will continue to syringe feed her in the hopes that the blockage clears and she can build up her strength again.

At 15:30, we picked up the chicks from work. They have grown enormously in the past two weeks since I saw them last. They are now half yellow fluff and half feathered. The feathers are mid-brown with a cream/white edge. Unfortunately, my boss couldn’t remember what breed they were but thought they had ‘red’ in the breed name. I assumed she meant Rhode Island Reds but the feathers aren’t right. A thorough Google search has given me two options, a white laced Wyandotte or a white laced Red Cornish. It would be interesting if they were Red Cornish as these are a rare breed, like the Vorwerk, and it’s often small holders or allotmenters who keep these vulnerable breeds going. When they have more feathers, I will have another search.

We arrived home, via Lea’s for chicken supplies and dropping off some mash and corn at Geoff’s for his girls. I got out of the car and showed Geoff and Nan the chicks from a safe distance. They make such a beautiful sound. After dropping off supplies with Geoff, we went to the allotment, dropped off our supplies and went to feed Dolly. She was still there, looking slightly more perky although maybe it’s just me being optimistic. She had three syringes of egg yolk and several of water. We saw her take a long drink of water independently too which is a relief. As long as she can drink, we stand a chance.

At home, we took the cage with the chicks upstairs into the room we had prepared for them. We set up the brood enclosure and tried to introduce the chicks to our cats. One cowered and ran away whilst the other was rather curious. It was great fun playing with them and we want to handle them lots so they are used to being held. This is important not only for health checks but to get them used to people. After about half an hour, we left them to settle in and closed the door to stop any marauding cars taking too close an interest.

Currently, the chicks are happily cheeping away, oblivious to the fact that a cat is camping outside the door!

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