Monday, 30 November 2009

Mystery Layer

Quick update on Mini. After trying baytril, and more tylan, Mini is now having eye drops administered three times a day. The eye is a mess, and the horrid, thick eye cheese continues to be a problem. After liberating some from her upper eyelid yesterday, I very nearly threw up. Mini bears this treatment with understandable panic, but no malice. The eye is open, but looks awful. On the plus side, Mini is well in herself, happily rootling around the garden for tasty tidbits and leading the charge when it comes to treats. She is eating and drinking normally, so I am slightly more confident that she will survive whatever this infection is.

On a more happy note, one more of my girls is now laying (I say one more, because Maeve has yet to stop. That hen is a powerhouse of production!) Last week, I found a quite spherical egg in the run. Tinted like Maeve's, but a different shape. It still might have been Maeve's, I suppose, but I can't think why she wouldn't have laid in the nest box. It also closely resembled the kind of egg that a certain eye-infected chook used to lay. Then, two days ago I found a perfectly formed, slightly smaller, yet shiny, egg in 'Maeve's' nest box. This one was definitely not down to my ASBO chicken. Today, I have found another egg matching the description of the first.

Now, I'm fairly certain that this small, shiny egg layer is not one of my 'regulars'. My money is on the demented bog brush sisters, aka the silkies. So, I have diligently followed them around the garden, hand outstretched, in an effort to see if they crouch. They don't. They simply take off around the garden like road runner. Hmmmm.

The mystery deepens.....

Friday, 13 November 2009

Chickens Are Contagious

Well, a week on from Mini's trip to the vet, things seem to be improving. Her eye is still not right, but is an awful lot better than it was. She finished the Baytril course on Wednesday, and as she wasn't completely better I have put her on yet another Tylan course. She pootles about the garden with the others, making her distinctive 'meh-meh' sound and scoffing random bits of greenery, so I'm cautiously hopeful.

Sadly, it appears that Maeve has moved ahead of her in the pecking order, and there has been a fair bit of chasing. My lovely little Mini seems to be a born victim. Maeve charges at her, then stops short as Mini waddles away into the shrubbery. I knew that Maeve would shake up the pecking order, and I shouldn't be surprised that she's started at the bottom, but I still feel sad that Mini is getting harassed by the youngster. I'm a little embarrassed for her. However, she is eating, drinking her medicine and sleeping with the others, so no major problems.

A friend of mine, who has listened to my tales of chicken woe with a sympathetic ear, has just announced that she's expecting a quartet of hens. The coop has arrived, and now she just has to decide on which hens to keep. I feel strangely jubilant that someone else is going to know what I'm talking about when I mention bokking, crouching and chickenny vandalism.

I'm debating whether to warn her about her beautiful geraniums.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Problem With Mini

Mini is sick again. Just over a week ago, I noticed her wheezing. This was dreadful timing, as we were going away for a long weekend the following day. I dosed the water with Tylan, informed my chook sitter and reluctantly left her and hoped for the best.

When we returned, I was delighted to hear that her chest had cleared up, and she was back to making her 'brum' noises. One of her eyes looked a little gunky, but I assumed it would clear up in the next day or two. It didn't.

Over the next 48 hours, Mini's eye became increasingly swollen. On examination, it appeared that her inner eyelid was very swollen and inflamed. So, off to the vet we went. Again.

The vet ummed and aahed, and confessed to not knowing much about chickens (does anyone?!). I held Mini firmly while the vet had a good look at the swelling. With barely a hesitation, she grabbed what I thought was a part of Mini's eye and pulled. I learned that hens can scream. It turns out that what I had assumed was a physical part of Mini was in fact solidified pus. Lovely. The eye swelling was instantly gone, and she peered at me with a blood shot and sore looking eye. The vet duly prescribed Baytril, and off we toddled.

All was going well, and I thought we might be in the clear. Until yesterday. Until Maeve.

Maeve detected a weakness in her flock mate, and took advantage. She set about Mini with a viciousness which was truly depressing. Both of Mini's eyes were targeted, and she has cuts on both eyelids. I brought the hen inside to bathe her wounds, and at that point discovered two small critters on Mini's neck. Lice, I presume. Great.

Taking my mite spray, I methodically sprayed each complaining hen. Maeve was banished to solitary, and can still be seen pacing in the greenhouse. I cleaned out the coop, smothering every surface with mite powder. I dressed the feed with poultry spice, and also added ACV to the water. Every little helps, to plagiarise a well known supermarket.

The other hens are ignoring Mini, which is quite normal. Last night, when I went out to give Mini her evening dose of medicine, her eye was gummed shut. I unstuck it, and she peered blearily at me. It was the same this morning. She is currently sat huddled in the border.

Time will tell.