RIP Katie

This morning we arrived on site and were met with the news that Katie had passed away overnight. Cliff had popped in this morning to check on her and found her body in the nest box. It’s sad because she had no apparent illness, just seemed a little quieter the last three days. She was an ex-commerical chicken who we rescued through a charity which rehomes thousands of chickens from farms every year. Despite laying very few eggs, she enjoyed a happy 9 month retirement in the fresh air and spoilt with all the treats we give our girls. Katie would always be between my feet assessing whatever I was doing whether I wanted to be judged or not. Our other two rescue hens, Georgie and Hattie continue strong and I hope we can keep them going for a long time.

The main coop definitely seemed quite empty with Dolly in her isolation coop and Katie missing. Most of the girls were busy enjoying the sunshine or rolling in a freshly dug hole. I tried to collect the eggs only to find Pop and Polly sitting inside looking like they were about to lay. I left them to it and cleaned out the nest box while my husband sorted out fresh water for them.

I then moved on to check Leia and Rey. I opened up the nest box to find two eggs (good girls!) and put their food bowl outside now that the weather is nice again. My husband disappeared off to clean out and refill their water feeder and I hand fed Leia and Rey some of their favourite treats, sunflower seeds. I left them scratching and enjoying the sunshine.

Dolly seemed a little more with it today and we took her up to the shed to feed her. We let her roam in the shed for a bit while we watched her. I reminded her that under no circumstances was she to make a mess in the shed. She took one look at me, aimed her rear end and proceeded to poo all over the cover of the wormery. Part of me was insulted, the other part, rather impressed. In checking on Dolly these past couple of weeks, the nest box and coop hasn’t had any poo in it due to her liquid diet. However, today’s waste shows she must be managing to eat a little solid food. With my husband holding her, I managed to get quite a lot of gunk out of her beak. Cliff reckons she has broken it, and I have to say I think I agree. It doesn’t feel particularly stable when I am scraping it out. She tolerated the scrape out quite well considering it must be uncomfortable. We let her have a quick rest before syringe feeding her. We managed to get four syringes of egg yolk down her, more than we have in a couple of days and lots of water. After feeding her, we put her back into her coop, placed the remaining egg down in a small pot and left her to chill out.

Before we left, I popped into the main coop to check whether there were any eggs. What I found amused me greatly. Pop and Dolly were stubbornly sitting in the nest box exactly where I had left them. I gently prodded Polly and Pop and managed to collect an egg. With the egg roved, I expected them to disappear outside to have a dust bath. Polly absolutely refused to move. This may mean she is broody. I don’t fully trust that she is yet as last time we thought she was she decided she wasn’t after 48 hours. But if she is, it’s an exciting opportunity to hatch some different chicks. She has never brought up chicks despite being a pure breed who supposedly go broody more often than hybrids. If she is actually broody then we will need to order fertile eggs asap!

With the weather forecast good for the next week, we decided tomorrow will be the day to clean out the main coop and dig over the plot. We will bring down lunch to cook in the shed so that we can make a full day of it. Also, we can check if Polly is actually broody. If she is, we will have to work out where to put her considering all our coops are in use!

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