Today I wanted to share with you the benefits that I have seen over the years in my flock by adding sea kelp to their diet. I originally started sporadically adding sea kelp to their diet years ago, when I first learned how my lobsterman friends, would set their traps out in the yard for their flocks of chickens to clean. The chickens would go nuts for all the seaweed attached to the cages. They made fast work and within no time they would clean the traps, leaving no traces behind. It got me thinking, what were the chickens getting from the sea anyway?
Last month, I noticed that Oyster Cracker was not herself. She seemed to be under the weather and not herself. She was almost 6 years old and has had bad days since Sunshine passed almost 6 months ago. The first clue that something was wrong was that she did not roost with the others in her usual spot. She tried to sleep in the nesting box. The next night she ended up on the lower roost where no one sleeps. She was just off. By the next morning, I decided that I needed to do some detective work. So, I set out to figure out just what was wrong. As a chicken keeper, there are lots of things that you can do to help determine what might be wrong with your chicken. I also realized that writing a post on how to examine a chicken might be useful for others.
When the baby chicks were little, I could not believe the amount of dust that they generated. I had no idea why and initially chalked it up to the brooder’s bedding. However, I noticed that as they grew in size so did the dust. I was still using the same amount of pine shavings in the brooder for bedding, so why more dust? It surely could not be solely from the pine shavings and I was right. It was from the chickens themselves. The majority of the dust was coming from them.
During the winter, it is very important to the flock’s health that the chicken coop remains dry. Humidity in the coop is one of the number one reasons that chickens become ill during the winter. Humidity can quickly become an issue in quite a few ways. Therefore, controlling humidity in the coop should be a winter goal for all chicken owners.
I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right with Lucy.
When I picked her up she had lost a good amount of weight. I first attributed it to her hard molt. She had a very bad molt this past month, even worse than the others. I could see that she had lost some weight too, even though weight loss and a decreased appetite is normal during molting.
However my intuition told me to scoop her up and take a good peek at her. Plus she needed her toenails trimmed. As I held her and began to trim her toenails, I noticed that a bit of the webbing on top of her foot between her toes was a bit pink and swollen. I flipped her foot over and discovered that she had bumblefoot. In fact, it was worse, both feet were affected.
If you think about it, chickens lay hundreds of eggs during their lifetime. Many times their eggs arrive just on schedule just as predicted; gorgeous warm orbs of goodness. Hens are amazing! Although rare, sometimes issues arise that leaves chicken keepers scratching their heads. The perfect place is to start is inside the chicken and what leads up to the laying of an egg.
As many of you have been following, Dolly has not quite been herself. As an older girl who was perpetually broody in her glory days, she has slowed down to a quiet, non-broody, little hen who naps most of her days in little patches of found sunshine. Her little Silkie Bantam body is old but still enjoys the thrill of scratching in the dirt for the morning’s scattered treats.
|Free-ranging chickens are at risk.|
As avian influenza begins to emerge in even more backyard flocks of chickens, I thought that it was time to chat a little about how and why this is happening here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.