It started raining in the night and has continued at a steady drizzle all morning. The sky is entirely overcast and the rain looks set in for the while day. We walked down to feed the girls, our plans for cleaning out the coop postponed. It’s very difficult to dry the nest box boards if it’s pouring with rain!
The chicks were happy and have again devoured all the chick crumb we left out for them. I think we may have to get a bigger feeder in the next few days. They all look healthy and are still enjoying cuddling up together in the bottom of the nest box which is adorable!
We moved on to the main coop where I collected 2 eggs (thanks to Polly and Millie). Katie was in the nest box, standing but asleep. I gently brushed past her to get the eggs and she didn’t move. Ex-commerical layers (often Warrens) are overbred leading to short lives, often with hidden conditions due to being bred for excessive egg production. I didn’t want to disturb her when she seemed peaceful but I suspect she may pass away in her sleep shortly. It’s rather tragic losing a chicken, even when you try to convince yourself they aren’t pets. We fed the rest of the girls their treats and I dashed off to check on Leia and Rey.
Poor Leia has been so pampered by loving n the greenhouse, I’m not sure she understands what rain is! Rey seemed unperturbed. I collected an egg, topped up their food and put it in the nest box. The pellets absorb water and can cause issues with mildew and mould. If a hen eats this they can develop issues such as canker, blockages in the throat, or sour crop. I left them to it, Leia clearly unimpressed with the weather, shouting her disapprobation as I walked away. As if I could make the rain stop!
On to Dolly. She had lots of stuff stuck in her beak today which I managed to get out. It shows she is trying to eat but is failing to swallow it. With my husband holding her, I got out another massive amount of gunk but on close inspection, the side of her beak looks like it’s missing sections. Some of the gunk peeled off from the side of her beak leaving bare beak where there shouldn’t be. We wonder whether she has got a tumour or something similar which has then caused her difficulties with eating hence the gunk. Either way, she is definitely less active and alert today. We put her back into the nest box to rest, not knowing if she will make it much longer. We have done everything we can for her but I don’t think it will be enough.
Soaked and cold, we left for home. The allotment in many ways, reflects the many joys and struggles of life. The new life of the chicks is a cause for celebration on one hand, and on he other, the deterioration of older chickens like Dolly, sadness. We tend to keep older chickens because they still lay well although not every day. People roll their eyes at us as we spoil our birds with treats, name them and syringe feed them for weeks trying to nurse them back to health. But for us, it’s important to look after our flock for the whole of their lives, be it long or short. They work hard to give us eggs, it seems ungrateful to not care for them in their twilight years. Even if it means, we regularly loose our girls through old age or illness.