09 September 2012

Chicken Drama

Some of our chickens can be a little high-strung.  One of our Rhode Island Reds is very vocal about wanting out of the coop in the morning and also about wanting a treat.  Some of the bantams will squawk at the smallest thing.  And they all get a little upset when we let the dogs out.  But there has been cause for alarm recently.

We had the covered area on the side of our house still set up as a "chicken nursery" when it was time to hatch our second set of chicks.  It had its flaws, but, for the most part, it was nearly the same as it was when we hatched the first chicks.  The only thing different was part of the fencing was two feet tall instead of four feet.  During the first couple of weeks after the seven chicks hatched, something must have attacked them during the night.  I found the mother out of the nursery and sitting on her chicks near the hen house.  When it got light enough, I discovered there were only five.  Within a few days she and her chicks were living in the hen house and getting along with all the other chickens.

I've always assumed that there were always hawks around our house.  I felt like we really didn't know the extent of it, since we're not in the yard from sunrise to sunset.  But we have been seeing a lot more recently.  Earlier this week, between trips into the back yard, a hawk must have gotten one of our chicks.  We could not find it anywhere.  The next evening, Ella saw a hawk on top of our mother hen, and scared it off.  Then another evening a hawk must have gotten another chick, because, when I let the chicks out in the morning, I only counted three.  So we're down to three chicks.  Ella is a little upset about all of this, but there's not much more that we can do.  We just have to hope they grow up fast.

One of the hens we kept from our first set of chicks is suspected of being a rooster.  Back in August I heard a second crow coming from the hen house.  If you love your chickens as much as we do, it's a devastating sound - it means that you are going to have to get rid of one.  I wasn't sure which one it was, but I planned to find out.  I've given up on that for now, because we're pretty sure which one it is.  He has become more of an outcast from the flock and I think he's been bullied as well.  He's very skittish, even jumping when you throw food in his direction.  We were thinking about him the other day and I found him in the hen house - I grabbed him and Robin and I were able to get a good look at him.  He has what looks like a sore spot on his upper back, and he wasn't opening one of his eyes.  The eye thing was probably a fluke, because I saw both of them open today, but I am concerned.  I don't think there's much we can do for him.  Maybe he needs to become our personal pet chicken.

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