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December 30, 2012

A New England Snowy Morning

Last night I could hear the winds whipping and the rain falling.  Then all of sudden around nine o'clock in the evening a serene silence fell upon my ears.  The pounding sleeting rain had turned to snow.  Wonderful huge heavy snowflakes fell from the evening sky.  This morning I woke to streams of brilliant morning sunlight dancing through the windows.  The storm had left the wet heavy snow clinging to all in sight.  The wild birds were awake, alive and singing songs from their hearts.

By the time I journey out, the snow on the chicken coop had begun to melt.

Snow covered branches were beginning to melt.

Branches heavy with snow bent from the weight.

Singing chickadees were some of the first to arrive at the feeders.

Two regular Red Breasted Nuthatches came to investigate too.

Of course, my heart always feels a sense of peace when the Carolina Wrens are visible at the feeders.  We have been sustaining a few generations now of these little ones.  It is not often that they overwinter in the Northeast, but they are happy here in our yard.

The vegetable garden now sleeps.  The trellises are now covered in snow.

I scooped the snow away from our beehive entrances and left the rooftop snow for insulation. The morning sun was just beginning to reach and warm the hives.

We are expecting more wintry weather over the next few weeks.  The magic of winter is upon us.

“What good is the warmth of summer, 
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
 ~John Steinbeck

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

December 28, 2012

Reasons for Missing Feathers on Backyard Chickens

Feather loss and missing feathers happens within every flock at one point or another.  Suddenly, one day you happen to notice that one or more of your chickens are missing some feathers. Missing feathers should always cause you to do a bit of detective work.  There are reasons for missing feathers.  Some reasons are obvious, while others require you search a little deeper into the underlying cause of the missing feathers.

Feathers can go missing anywhere on a chicken's body. However, sometimes the location as to where they are missing can provide you with clues. Sometimes missing feathers occur during the normal process of molting.  Molting can take up to several months to complete and typically occurs in flocks at least one year of age.  It can also be triggered by stress. During their annual molt, typically in the fall, chickens systematically lose their feathers, starting at the head and moving down the body from neck, then chest, back, wings, and finally their backsides and their tails. Some chickens have heavier molts than others and their degree of molting can vary from year to year.  The Silkies in our flock rarely show any evidence of molting other than a few feathers here and there strewn throughout the run and coop. On the other hand, Oyster Cracker is one of those chickens that seems to drop all of her feathers overnight- leaving her bald and mangy looking for months.

Location of missing feathers and possible causes

Head- others chickens pecking, other hens asserting dominance, molting, lice
Chest-broody hen, molting
Butt- can appear beefy red-molting, vent gleet, mites, lice, feather pecking by self or others
Area immediately around vent-worms, mites, lice, egg bound, pecking by self or others
Random bald spots-feather pecking by self or others, mites, lice, bullies
Back near wings and back of neck-rooster's damage from mating/over-mating

Pecked because she was broody, in their favorite nesting box, and would not leave.
Reasons for picking at feathers

Protein deficiency- Feathers and eggs are predominantly protein. Adult chickens require diets between 15-17% protein depending on which chicken resource you rely upon.  They should all be on layer feed after approximately 20 weeks of age.  Sometimes, in our good intentions of sharing kitchen scraps, fruits and vegetables, chickens can become deficient in protein.  Therefore, they will seek another source to make up for this deficiency, even if this includes eating feathers.

Boredom/Lack of Adequate Space-Chickens can become bored, especially in the winter. It is very important to provide your chickens with the proper amount of spacing per bird.  In flocks that are not allowed to free-range, it is suggested that each standard size chicken has approximately 10 square feet of space.  Bantams of course require less.  It is also important to provide them with distractions to keep them happy and occupied during these times when the grass outside is not always greener.

Mites/Fleas-Sometimes missing feathers are the only signs of mites.  Mites are incredibly elusive.  They like to hide in the nooks and crannies of the coop and come out and feed on the chickens under the cover of darkness.  They suck the chicken's blood and in the morning, return to their hiding place.  It is not uncommon for chicken keepers only to find them on their hens after they investigate with a flashlight in the evening. Mites that crawl and move across the chicken's skin are not only irritating, but also cause itching and pain after a while.  This annoyance can lead to chickens pecking at these sensitive spots.

Lice- Like mites, lice can be just as annoying for the same reasons; however, they love to congregate at the base of the feathers where the feathers meet the skin.  They can cause itching and a burning sensations. Lice love to hang out best near the vent, under the wings and on the head.  They will not leave their host. Instead they rapidly multiply leaving your chicken defenseless, except for feather pecking.

Bully hen/pecking order- Yes, even in the world of chickens there are bullies.  Our Dottie Speckles was one such bully.  Despite our best efforts, she was insistent upon hurting Tilly.  By the light of the moon, she took great pleasure at plucking feathers from Tilly as she slept.  Poor Tilly, she became so miserable that we had to eventually re-home Dottie Speckles.  In the meanwhile, Dottie Speckles had taught her bad habit to a few of the good hens. Taking Dottie Speckles away, allowed the girls to forget about pecking at one another and how much better it is to keep a harmonious existence.  It took me months to figure out that this is what was happening to Tilly.

Chickens Instinctively Peck-Chickens most always peck first at things that catch their eye.  They peck at shiny things such as buttons, earrings and painted toenails.  They peck at bugs, slugs and small moving flies.  Their curiosity is expressed via pecking.  There are a few things that you must remember.  Chickens love the color red.  Chickens love to peck at red things including blood.  Chickens can become cannibals if left to their own devices.

Vent Gleet-Vent gleet is also known as a fungal infection of the gastrointestinal tract.  It can lead to feather loss around the vent and the entire backside of your chickens. It is most commonly seen in hens. You can read more about it here.

Worms-If the worm infestation is serious enough in your flock the chickens will find the worms irritating to the vent area.  Thus, your chickens will peck at their vents to try and address the irritation and also perhaps at other affected chickens' vents too, especially if they notice the worms. Read more about the types of worms that affect chickens here and how to treat for them. Any veterinarian can check your chickens' poop for evidence of worms even if they don't treat chickens.

Oyster Cracker's new pin feathers are seen on her wing and neck following her molt.
Why are feathers not returning?
Quills in the Skin- Feathers begin to emerge from the skin as pin feathers.  They are pointy shafts of protein. As they grow longer, the chicken takes off the sheath and the feather unfurls.  In the center of the feather is the quill where blood supply exists.  Thus sometimes, broken feathers will bleed.  Also, sometimes when feathers are broken or pecked the tip of the feather remains in the skin.  To our eyes, we do not see any feathers, only bare spots.  However, since that tip is still in the skin the chicken's body still believes that there is a feather present.  It is not until the chicken molts, that you will see a new feathers grow into the existing bare spot.

Repetitive Pecking-As the new feathers grow in, they too are irresistible to the chickens' pecking.  Pin feathers are especially tempting.  Also, the color red of the irritated skin, especially on their bottoms, lends to pecking.  Sometimes, chickens lower in the pecking order bear the brunt of the pecking.

Helping Feathers Return
Protein snacks/Supplements-Snacks and treats should always be shared in moderation.  Too many treats can lead to health problems such as fatty liver.  Meal worms and sunflower seeds are good choices.  There are also supplements that can be temporarily added to your chickens' food such as Poultry Conditioner and Calf Manna that help too.

Access to dust bathing/ dry run-Dust bathing naturally helps chickens to clean their feathers and helps to eradicate poultry lice and mites.  It is important that your chickens always have a place in their run outside to dust bathe that stays dry from the elements.

Layer pellets-Verify that you are feeding your adult flock layer pellets.  Even full time free-ranging birds should always have access to layer pellets if they so desire.  A proper diet leads to proper functioning of their bodies.

Hygiene-Clean coop/roost/nesting boxes-This is probably the number one reason for issues that arise in backyard chicken keeping.  I can never stress enough how important it is to keep your chickens' living space clean.   Here is how we keep our coop clean.

Blu-Kote/Vetericyn- Both of these products are great to have in your chicken first aid kit. Blu-Kote is great for spraying on closed wounds only. (It can sting.)  It tints everything a bluish purple color.  Changing the color alone sometimes helps to deter chickens away from those tempting areas.  Be sure to wear gloves when applying.  It stains everything. Vetericyn is wonderful for applying to open wounds.  It is effective against bacteria, viruses and fungus and helps to promote wound healing.

Separate living area near flock- Sometimes the chicken that is missing their feathers and continually pecked upon needs to be removed from the flock until the feathers return.  Do not be tempted to return this chicken to the flock until the feathers have completely grown in and appear normal.  Here is how we have created a separate safe place for an injured chicken that would work nicely in this case as well.

Hen saddle/apron- Aprons that can be applied to the back of a chicken are an easy way to keep chickens within their flock while covering their bare backs and allowing the feathers to return.  These are great for over-mated hens and broody hens.  Just be sure to check regularly under the apron for lice and mites.  If left un-checked they can take advantage of the apron too.

Boredom busters-Keep your cooped up chickens busy.  Distraction is the key sometimes.  Try supervised free-ranging, a cabbage pinata, treat ball, chicken ball, or a flock block.

Rooster and over-mating- A flock should have at least 7 hens to one rooster.  This helps to keep certain hens from being over-mated by him and allows them to escape his constant attention.  If you have more roosters, they each will need a group of hens to keep everyone happy.

In most cases, there are identifiable reasons why chickens are missing their feathers.  Sometimes it is straight forward and other times, it may not be as obvious. In fact, like with Dottie Speckles, it took me months to finally find the culprit and figure out the solution, even though I spend a great deal of time with the flock each day.  Hens sometimes behave differently when we are around.  Keep that in mind, when you set off on your detective work and most of all do not get discouraged.  It might just be a situation where you have to wait until the next year's molt.

Checking for mites and lice near the vent

This post is linked up to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest

December 26, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 17 + Pecan Sticky Buns

I love creating old and new traditions with the family on Christmas morning.  One such tradition that started about 5 years ago was serving Pecan Sticky Buns.  Christmas morning is the only day that I make them and I love it when out of the blue the kids think of them and ask me to make them.  I know that this is one of the things that they look forward to all year long.  We have other traditions, but I always think that no matter how old you are, the emotions, love and memories shared over a delicious holiday meal are cherished forever.

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tubes (17.3 oz each) large refrigerated biscuits


Preheat oven to 375°F

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Mix the pecans into the mixture.

Spoon into a greased 13“x 9”x 2" baking pan or a larger glass Pyrex pie plate works well too.

In a shallow bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar.

Cut each biscuit in half, dip in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place cut side down into the brown sugar mixture in the pan.

Repeat until the biscuits tightly fill the pan.  There may be one or two left over.

Bake at 375°F for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown.  If the edges begin to brown prematurely before the center rolls are done cooking, just cover the edges with aluminum foil and allow the center to remain uncovered to cook and turn golden brown.  Check to see if they are done cooking gently with a fork.

Invert onto a serving platter and serve when warm.

Click here for more recipes from Tilly's Nest.

I would like to invite you to share with us your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like. Feel free to share this hop with your friends and family because all are invited and with this hop, there can never be too many wonderful places to connect. Feel free to link up to three posts and please don't forget to link back to this hop in your post. Just as we love discovering new blog hops others do too!

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Click on the link to make my Faux Bois Candles

Wishing all of you peace, love and happiness this Christmas Day from our nest to yours.

December 22, 2012

Barbacoa Beef Tacos and Nachos

Barbacoa Beef is one of my all time favorite meats to put in tacos and serve on nachos.  It takes a bit of cooking in the slow cooker but the end results will provide your family of 4 with two dinners.  You might even try serving this on New Year's or on game night creating a make your own taco/nacho bar.  It is great fun!

4 pound chuck roast (I sometimes have to purchase 2 roasts to total 4 pounds.)
1 large yellow onion diced
2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic-smashed
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Turn your slow cooker on low.  Add the onion, chicken stock, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, lime juice, vinegar, cumin and cilantro and stir.  Remove 2 chipotle chilis from the can and dice them.  Add them and 1/2 tablespoon of the adobo sauce to the mixture.  Stir well.

Remove any strings keeping the chuck roast together.  Trim off any excess fat.  Salt and pepper them generously and add them to the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 8 hours.  When done, remove meat from the slow cooker and trim off any remaining fat.  Using two forks, shred the meat.  Return it to the slow cooker and stir.  When serving, remove the shredded meat from the slow cooker with tongs, allowing the juices to drain off the meat.

Add to soft or crispy tacos or serve on top of tortilla chips.

Taco/Nacho topping suggestions include: 
shredded cheddar cheese
diced tomatoes
pico de gallo
jalapeno peppers
sour cream

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

December 21, 2012

Photos from the Week~Tilly's Nest

Oyster Cracker
Free-ranging fun
Looked on as this Loggerhead turtle was rescued from washing ashore in Wellflleet Bay.
The sheep on Peterson's Farm
Our own little "goat" in the school Gingerbread play.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest/ Mr. Tilly's Nest

December 19, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 16 & A Living Christmas Tree

Good Morning!  It's hard to believe that we are in week sixteen of the blog hop.  It is even more difficult to believe that Christmas is one week away.  I still have a bit of  gift shopping to do and of course grocery shopping. We always host Christmas at our house.  This week I wanted to share with you a living Christmas tree that I created this week for HGTV Garden.

I took a trip over to the garden center and found some succulents on the clearance table.  With a few small pots of hens and chicks, a walk in the woods to gather moss and by recycling a flower pot- I was able to create a lovely living tree for indoors and out.  Overtime the succulents will fill in all the vacant spaces.  Click here to create one of these sweet trees for your home.

A "hen" is ready to plant.
Now it is your turn. This is a blog hop. Share with us your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like. Feel free to share this hop with your friends and family because all are invited and with this hop, there can never be too many wonderful places to connect. Feel free to link up to three posts and please don't forget to link back to this hop in your post.  Just as we love discovering new blog hops others do too!

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

This post is linked up to the Original Farm girl Friday Blog Hop.

December 17, 2012

How to Free-Range Chickens with Supervision

Two fluffy butts free-ranging in the woods.
Other than a good dust bath, there is no other place that a chicken would rather be than free-ranging about their environment.   Chickens love to scratch in the dirt. They love to discover bugs, worms and tasty grubs as they explore their surroundings. However, most folks never free-range due to the risk of predators.  Those that allow their chickens to roam freely on their property accept and understand the risk of losing members of their flock from time to time.  This was not an option for me nor was it a risk that I felt comfortable with. One of the best solutions that I came up with three years ago was supervised free ranging.  Supervised free-ranging allows your flock to be out and about in the yard as your presence keeps predators away.

Some Benefits of Free Ranging
Better tasting eggs
Eggs with more nutritional value
Healthier, happier Hens
Toenail sharpening
Prevention of bad habits such as feather picking
Prevention of boredom
Decrease in the amount of feed your flock consumes
Garden benefits include pest control, soil aeration, composting and weeding

Potential Daytime Predators of Free-Ranging Flocks
Hawks/Birds of Prey
Feral Cats

How To Supervise Free-Ranging
Depending on the size of your flock, you many need more than one person outside to help you supervise. It is impossible for one person to keep an eye on more than 10 chickens at one time. This extra set of eyes should be a person that could ward off a predator, not a young child.

1. The best hours for supervised free ranging are just prior to dusk.  This way, the chickens should automatically return to their coop/run as the daylight fades. Trust me, you never want to chase a chicken. Also, day time predators are returning home for their evening rest and the nocturnal predators are just beginning to awaken.  This is a transition time for them.

2. With a new flock, do not free-range until they have become acclimated to their coop and surroundings.

3.  Leave the door to the run open during free-ranging.  Some chickens will prefer to stay in the coop and run area. My littlest Silkie, Fifi,who is at the bottom of the pecking order, never free-ranges. Instead, she likes to have the "run of the house" while the others are out. Others will return to lay their eggs or take a sip of water.  It also allows the chickens access to their coop and run as they return home from free-ranging for the evening.

4. Train your chickens to know that you are in charge. Interestingly, the flock will free-range close to the head hen or rooster.  Either one will lead the flock to where they free-range.  Some breeds like to free-range farther from the coop while other breeds, like the Australorp, tend to stay close to home.

5.  Learn how to do the "alert/warning" flock call.  It sounds like a low rolling growl.  I do this if I see any predators near, such as hawks.  The chickens will respond to your alert.

6.  Never stray far from your free-ranging flock.  Remember, you are their protector.  Your job is to continually survey the skies and land for any potential danger. Leaving your flock even for a few minutes can make them vulnerable.

7.  Keep some treats in your pocket. This is a very useful tool in training chickens to avoid certain areas of the yard, have them follow you and lure them back into the safety of their coop and run.

8.  Remember to do a head count after everyone has returned in from free-ranging before you lock up the coop.

9.  Develop a free-ranging habit/pattern and your flock will become accustomed to the routine.  For example, my girls always free range while I clean the coop.  They are also used to free-ranging in the gardens when I am working in the yard. I lure them to the area where I am working with a tiny bit of scratch and treats.

10.  Check the foot pads of your free-ranging chickens regularly for any injuries such as bumblefoot.

The way you chose to manage your flock is a personal decision. There are many ways to raise chickens.  I am proud to say that there is a compromise when it comes to free-ranging.  Supervising free-ranging does minimize the risk of harm coming to your flock.  I am happy to share that many of those folks who were initially against free-ranging have tried my techniques and they too have become not only believers but advocates of supervised free-ranging.

Feathers checks on Fifi who chooses not to free-range.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

December 14, 2012

A Vintage Style Ornament Craft

Every Christmas we love to add a few homemade ornaments to our tree.  Head on over to HGTV Garden for all of the directions on how you can be inspired to craft this wonderful vintage style ornament complete with a looking glass window.  I had a blast creating this one for them.

Click here.

Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest

December 12, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 15 & Planting Bulbs and Garlic

In the late fall as soon as the weather chills and temperatures drop but just before the ground freezes it is time to plant bulbs that will grow in the spring.  This is a fantastic way to see early blooms in your garden and also provides a pollen and nectar source for honey bees that are beginning to emerge from their hives.

Sometimes people overlook that garlic is just as easy to plant as flowering bulbs.  It is also planted at the same time.  This morning, I got busy planting bulbs. I planted Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and garlic all with a new handy tool that made bulb planting more enjoyable. It took me about half of the time using the dibble verses a small garden trowel.  The old saying is true-Having the right tools for the job, make for smoother sailing.

This is my latest tool called a garden dibble.  Okay, I am in love here folks with this simple, elegant sleek bulb planting tool.  This is a large.  They come in small and medium too and are handcrafted by Bepa's Garden in Connecticut.

Dig a hole for your bulb at the appropriate depth found on the packing. 

Be sure to place your bulbs in the hole with the flatter roots side down and pointy side up pointing up to the sky.  If they are placed in upside down, they will not grow.  Cover with soil and continue on with the next bulb.  I like to plant a bunch of bulbs very close to each other.  This puts on a better show in the spring as clusters of bulbs make more of a visual impact. Next it was time to plant garlic.

So many of our cold weather crops are still producing in the garden.  
It was almost difficult to find a place to plant the garlic!

This is garlic that was harvested this past spring.  Split apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves.  You can also use supermarket garlic.  However, use organic only. Non-organic garlic can be treated, just like potatoes, to prevent eyes and stems from forming. These will never grow in your pantry or your garden.  

Using the dibble I made holes and popped a garlic clove into each hole and then covered each one with soil. Garlic is harvested in the spring, after their blooms die off.

 I hope you will try to plant some bulbs this year.  They are such a welcome sight in the spring.

Now it is your turn. This is a blog hop. Share with us your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like. Feel free to share this hop with your friends and family because all are invited and with this hop, there can never be too many wonderful places to connect.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary dibble from Bepa's Garden, but the opinions expressed in this post are all my own.

December 10, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas As Interpreted by the Chickens

The holidays are such a wonderful time.  It is time when the world looks for peace, families and friends gather, old memories are reflected upon and new ones are made.  We can view the magic of the holidays through the eyes of our little ones and even through the eyes of our chickens.

Deck the Halls~ Every year, we add an evergreen wreath to the chicken coop.  We love to share in the holidays with all of our pets and family.  A sweet burlap bow and a zinc garden marker were all it took to make this wreath stand out. Tilly and the girls love to watch the garden marker blow in the breeze. Chickens even appreciate some Christmas lights that help to light up the evening's darkness.

Compassion~Chickens are capable of love and compassion.
Witnessing a broody mother as she welcomes a new brood of hatching eggs into the world
Two broody hens sharing the same nesting box despite the availability of others.
A rooster defending a weaker hen from hens higher up in the pecking order.
A healthy hen sitting near another hen keeping a vigil as she passes away.

White Christmas~ I love seeing the chicken coop covered in a blanket of snow.  The chickens never quite know how to react to the white stuff falling from the sky.  Each one of them peeks from the half moon coop door.  Seven little heads stacked upon each other all wondering what to do with the freshly fallen snow that covers up the ramp and run floor.  With a quick sweep of the broom and light shoveling, the ground becomes visible once more.  The girls happily come from the coop to explore this winter wonderland.  They gaze at the falling snow from the sky.  They drink the melting snowflakes that drip down the run and peck at the snow.

Generosity~ Chivalrous roosters sharing found worms, seeds and grubs as he forages. Mother hens feeding her young chicks before herself.  Chickens sharing their eggs with us.

Comfort and Joy~ If chickens could smile, I think this is how I would find them everyday. They are happy, perky little burst of rainbows in the dreary winter landscape.  They seek comfort of the coop and one another on chilly winter nights.  They snuggle soundly on the roosts as visions of...not sugarplums...but probably meal worms dance through their head.

Family~In the flock of chickens, this always comes first.  Like many of us, they may not always get along at times.  There are feuds, alliances, jealousy and gossip. Yet, they never forget that they are a flock.  Together with one another for safety and companionship, they need one another.

The chickens like to remind me of important things in life that are so incredibly easy to forget or overlook, especially during this time of the year.  It is not always about material things.  Giving, loving, forgiving, gathering, sharing, appreciating and caring are truly some of the most important gifts that we can share with friends, family and strangers during this season.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

This post is linked up to  the Homestead Barn Hop, the Dandelion House's Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and the Clever Chicks Blog Hop.

December 7, 2012

Backyard Chickens Vent Gleet: Prevention and Treatment

Okay folks, this post is not going to be pretty.  In fact, some of the photos are just down right yucky!

Vent Gleet in Rescue Hen
Photo Credit: The Animal Sanctuary used with expressed permission.
Vent gleet also sometimes referred to as cloacitis or thrush is a fungal infection involving the digestive and reproductive systems.  Often the first signs of this infection can appear at the vent.  When examining the vent, it appears to have a whitish discharge that can sometimes smell like fermenting yeast.  The feathers surrounding the vent and backside are often missing and coated with fecal material as well as yeasty discharge and some crusting. The skin around the vent can also appear reddened and irritated. The degree of vent gleet can vary. Some cases are quite obvious, and others times it can be more subdued.  A yeast called Candida Albicans is responsible for the infection. All poultry of all ages can be susceptible.  It is not contagious and sometimes, although not often, can occur in roosters.

Photo Credit: Old McAndy Farms used with expressed permission.
-ingesting moldy or spoiled food-especially corn
-contaminated water
-unsanitary conditions
-sour crop
-imbalance of the normal occurring bacteria in the digestive system also known as the normal flora
-can occur after the use of oral antibiotics
-mating with an infected hen

Symptoms can vary from case to case but include
-white discharge from the vent
-missing or soiled feathers around the vent
-sour crop
-red or swollen vent- can be bloody if severe case
-loose stools
-decrease or cessation of egg laying
-decreased appetite or increased appetite
-loss of weight
-Whitish patches/lesions in the mouth
-pasting of vent feathers
-swollen bloated abdomen

-Bathe the chicken to help cleanse and soothe the affected area.
-Nystatin liquid suspension provided by the vet to be given orally is very effective for 7-10 days. It is also available online here.
-Anti-fungal creams like those used for athlete's feet applied topically twice daily to the vent area for 14 days.
-Garlic cloves, 1 per gallon, added to their water supply can be helpful as well.
-During treatment, avoid feeding your chickens foods that have a high water content and can cause watery stools, such watermelon.

-Acidify their digestive tract and crop by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the "mother" to each gallon of their drinking water. Be sure to use plastic waterers as the vinegar will cause the metal ones to rust.
-Add probiotics to their diet by enriching their food or feeding them plain unsweetened yogurt with live and active cultures once per week. This helps to restore the balance of the normal flora.
-Clean the waterers regularly with distilled vinegar.
-Keep the coop and run clean.
-Practice good hygiene. Keep the coop and run clean and dry.
-Never feed the chickens kitchen scraps you would not eat yourself.
-Keep chicken feed dry and stored in weather tight metal garbage cans.
-Discard any questionable or moldy feed.

Vent gleet is not caused by bacteria but yeast, thus trying to cure it with antibiotics is not typically successful and in fact can make matters worse.  Antibiotics can kill off both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria (normal flora) promoting the occurrence of yeast. A chicken that has vent gleet should not be viewed as being a weaker flock member. Vent gleet can occur in any chicken.  By instituting a few simple measures and treating any infected chickens in the flock, soon everyone's' butts will be fluffy again.

The fluffy butts of  Tilly's Nest.

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References available upon request.

This post is linked up to The Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop and The Clever Chick Blog Hop.
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest/see photo captions.

December 5, 2012

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 14

Usually when my kids come home from school we have a snack together and then do homework at the kitchen table.  As my youngest is in all day Kindergarten, she only has after school assignments a couple times per week.  On days when she has no homework, she enjoys sitting at the table with her brother coloring.  As I was preparing dinner, they were both busy at the table working.

The chickens are often a huge part of what the kids enjoy drawing in their spare time, along with dragons, puppies, kitties, giraffes, unicorns and other figures from their imagination.  This art from my daughter.  Sweetly, with her brother's help she wrote every chickens' name and the trait that they are know for best. 

I keep two large Rubbermaid tubs, one each, for both of my children where I keep their creations. Now and then, they ask to take a peek at them.  They love going through all of their work, remembering when they made a certain piece and seeing how they have improved over the years.  This chicken art is the newest addition to my daughter's steadily growing portfolio.

Chicken art

Now it is your turn. This is a blog hop. Share with us your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like. Feel free to share this hop with your friends and family because all are invited and with this hop, there can never be too many wonderful places to connect.

December 3, 2012

Create a Beautiful Holiday Garland with Two Options

I love decorating during Christmas time. This week, click on over to my HGTV Garden post and see how you can make either the glam or rustic version of this garland.  If you can't decide, make both- like me!  Easy to create add them to your mantle, tree, window, door or banister.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest