New hen is a dumb as a box of rocks...

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GemmaEllen
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New hen is a dumb as a box of rocks...

Post by GemmaEllen »

HI All!

Our new hens, Ginger and Nutmeg, are adorable.They are friendly Blacktails, about 20 weeks old now, and both laying tiny eggs every day. They've sorted out the pecking order with Pepper, and all 3 bumble about the garden, happily digging in my flowerbeds and eating all my plants.

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(the 2nd day we got them!)

However, Nutmeg (Meggie), the friendlier, more curious of the two, eats everything in sight - including the long, fiborous leaves of our daylilies, and the straw from the nesting box. (And thats only the stuff I've seen her eat, and failed to stop her in time!)

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(pictured above after eating a slug. eugh)

Unfortunately, this means that her crop is currently slow. We've been monitoring her for about 4 days now and she's fine. laying eggs daily, plodding up and down the garden with her sisters, good colour in her (tiny!) comb, normal poop (a bit runny - but it's hot and they are drinking lots, so i'm not concerned) But still, every morning when I go to let them out, I check her crop and that little ball of food is still there.
We've squidged it about a few times a day, we've tried oily fish and olive oil with scrambled egg to lubricate one day, 3ml of red wine, epsom salts in the water and keeping her off food for 24 hours to flush her out another, (which didn't quite work as she was locked in the run with the others, and managed to scratch up some bits from the floor...) Nothing has worked.

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(eyeing up my courgette plants - Nutmeg is in front, Ginger behind)

Should I be concerned at this point? Will the lump in her crop move once she passes the straw? The lump is doughy first thing, but as soon as she has a drink it loosens up and turns granular, and we are able to move it about and break it up, and it's not souring or going watery, her breath doesn't smell like sour crop and she doesn't leak - and clearly food is getting through her as she's pooping with no trouble...

To look at her she is a happy, healthy chicken with no issues... its just that pesky little lump in her crop each morning.

To be fair, by the time she goes to bed, she is bulging. She's a glutton and will eat and eat and eat until her crop is so full it looks deformed - so I'm not entirely surprised its not all gone by the morning... but still.

Help, dear chicken guru's - What do I need to do now?
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Marigold
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Re: New hen is a dumb as a box of rocks...

Post by Marigold »

I would remove the straw from the nest box and substitute something like Aubiose or wood shavings, which are easier to keep clean as well as being less inclined to get in a tangle if eaten. Then I would shut her up for a few days in the run with nothing to eat but pellets, grit and clean water. I would lay off the red wine, olive oil, oily fish and Epsom salts. If she gets lonely, it would do no harm for Ginger to go on the detox diet as well!
Have they ever been wormed with Flubenvet? It’s a good idea to do this for new pullets at 20 weeks as they come into lay, and if you were thinking of confining them for a few days that might be a good time to dose them both and kill off the worms they will have undoubtedly brought with them from their first home.
I think it’s quite possible that there’s nothing badly wrong with her, if food is going in one end and out the other, and everything else is normal, though I would be concerned about her habit of eating long stems of day lilies (prune them?) and straw. Make sure she has no access to long grass or anything else which has stems that might cause a blockage. If this is impossible, maybe think about netting off a safe area of short grass rather than allowing them to roam anywhere they like in the garden?
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GemmaEllen
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Re: New hen is a dumb as a box of rocks...

Post by GemmaEllen »

HI Marigold!

I've removed all the straw - I have aubiose down all the time, but tend to add a bit of straw in the winter. This was just a stray bit that she managed to find as I was cleaning them out. It blew over on the wind and she gobbled it down before I had a chance to grab it off her. The Lily was the same - it was a strip of one that was on the ground from my last pruning session (they are far too long and wide for a chicken to eat in their 'usual' form - you can see a patch of them in tbe background of one of the pictures above.) I think she's learned her lesson as I've not seen her go near them since.

We don't have any grass at all - I grow mostly veggies in raised beds and pots, with a shrubby border around the edge, so there's not really too much for them to eat that'll do them harm - in theory anyway! (We've not had any trouble before - and we've had a few different chickens in this garden with the same set up.)

We've only had them a couple of weeks and we've not wormed them yet. We wormed Pepper when Rosie was poorly as a last-ditch attempt to save her, which was only 3 or 4 weeks ago. Is it ok to worm her again so soon? If so I might worm them all and confine them to mash (we dont have pellets), grit and water.

If so, I'll do as you say, and continue to keep an eye on her.
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Marigold
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Re: New hen is a dumb as a box of rocks...

Post by Marigold »

That all sounds good. Maybe the episode with eating the lily and straw was just a bit of teenage experimentation! Worming them all would be OK, and then after that they’d be in synch with each other when the time came for another go. If there were any unhatched worm eggs left in Pepper’s gut after the last worming they will have hatched by now and another dose will deal with them. Flubenvet only kills the hatched worms and so always misses any eggs that haven’t hatched yet. Repeating the course will do her no harm.
Do let us know how they all get on. I would just keep an eye on Nutmeg and see whether she shows any symptoms such as not eating or drinking, pale or floppy comb, unusual droppings, inactive etc. If all seems normal, you can probably assume it is!
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