Worrying about Chicken’s Health

I guess it’s the same with any new creature (pet!) – you need to learn about it and adapt your behaviour to theirs.  Why wasn’t it the same when we had cats?  I guess because I’d had cats as a child so knew what to expect from them – not a lot, they’re in control!

In general, cats come in, eat food, sleep, go out, hunt, come in, eat food, sleep all on an endless cycle.  They’re only demanding when they want food and then they try every trick in the book to trip you up or annoy you so much that you feed them just to shut them up.  Yes, we have one cat who likes to talk – Jingles.  He is constantly ‘talking’ to us.  As endearing as it can be – it’s also very annoying and at times pitiful.  Actually, I have to be careful talking about the cats – they’re officially my daughters and so she’s very protective of them and shields any negative comments.  We love them really!

Anyway, back to cat’s health – in general they’re robust creatures.  Bar a visit to get a leg gash repaired and monthly flea treatments they’re pretty healthy and they come and go on their own terms.

Chickens, however, worry me.  Maybe it’s because they’re relatively new to the household or because I can’t ask a neighbour what to do if I have issues or maybe it’s just because they’re prey animals and so hide illnesses until it’s too late.  Whichever it is, it’s made me hypersensitive to the slightest change in behaviour.

Cho, is our biggest and youngest bird and our prettiest (oh, I feel harsh saying that – you’re not supposed to have favourites!).  After Tonk’s demise I’m especially wary of anything Cho does out of the ordinary.  Afterall Luna and Ginny have been around longer and Ginny has made it through some illnesses so they’ve shown their toughness.

Cho has had some fleeting moments of inactivity which always sets me worrying.  Maybe as a heavier bird she likes to take it easier and rest at little, rather than the relentless scratching and foraging of her comrades.  Maybe as a more select hybrid she has a more delicate constitution? She has had a couple of phases of laying soft eggs, this will usually last for 4-5 days and then she gets her rhythm back.  As a bigger bird, does she need more grit in her diet?  I try to make it available constantly, although find it hard to keep in the bowl as the chickens do like to step on their food bowls and tip everything all over the floor (good job they like to forage!)  Cho’s inactivity definitely coincides with her producing soft-shelled eggs, so her body must be telling her to sit and take it easy until it’s produced.  I imagine it’s a wierd feeling to pass something soft through your system when you’re used to moving hard objects. It’s just always un-nerving and gives me a restless night of worry.

As with Tonk’s death, I’ll never know all the answers. I can only observe, search, research and deal with what I see.  I just wish I didn’t have to have the worry to go with it.

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7 thoughts on “Worrying about Chicken’s Health

  1. Like you, our chickens do worry us. Last weekend, one of ours tore her comb off her head. Then the following week, she took a wrong turn while free ranging and ended up missing until we found her hidden in the “Big Girl’s House”….hoping not to be beat up by the rival gang. Integrating two flocks is always interesting.

  2. Dear friend, I read your post and first off I’m so pleased to find another chicken keeper that cares so much for their birds. Your soft egg problem is quite common, mostly in very young birds and then when they are older. The best solution to help this problem is to feed your birds oyster shells. You can buy them at your local feed store. Also, you mentioned grit was still being offered to your birds. Why? I feed chicks grit, but not pullets. I don’t want to see your birds eating grit instead of a valuable food source, does that make sense? Hope I was helpful in some small way.

    • Thanks for your kind and helpful words. What I give them is marked Oyster grit so I’m guessing it is the oyster shell you talk about but with a British name adaption. It looks large and horrid (but I don’t have bird taste!)

      I’ve found a new local feed store which I’m visiting this week so I’ll look and see if they have any other varieties.

      • To tell you the truth, I don’t give my hens any at all. I found over the years that MORE fresh foods from the table keep my birds a lot healthier that those of previous years when I fed only layer pellets. I think it’s cheaper too, they don’t get free fed anymore, only twice a day to supplement the fresh scraps I give them. So far, this is my best flock! ??

      • Now I’m really intrigued. Balancing food and treats is definitely something I’m still working on. Maybe I need to get all scientific about it to work out when the girls are healthiest. Mind you, I gather soft eggs are also a result of shock so it’s hard to gauge all elements. Such a learning experience!

      • This site will help you learn more about identifying egg problems. thepoultrysite.com/publications/1/egg-quality-handbook/16/thinshelled-eggs-and-shellless-eggs

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