Well the flock will be one year old in June. We have survived our first Northeast Winter and we just just hatched our own eggs. I think it is now time that I write the final chapter in my guide to raising chickens. I’ve touched upon these topics now and then with some of the blogs over the past few months. For some of these topics, I am going to refer to previous posts as added references for you. I am by no means an expert in keeping chickens. I am also positive that I am not going to cover all the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens. However, I do know what I have discovered along our journeys and I am happy to share them with you.
Well it has been seven month since we started raising chickens. I thought that I would share a few tips that I have learned along the way since raising chickens. They might make a difference in how you do things too.
1. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water that they drink. This helps to promote gastrointestinal and crop health.
2. Mix food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) into their feed. Approximately 2%. This helps to keep parasites down and also provides the chickens with extra vitamins and minerals. This also keeps pest from living in the chicken’s feeders and eating their food.
3. Buy a Pest Pistol from www.treatsforchickens.com. Fill it with DE and blast the nooks and crannies of your clean coop. This will keep down any mites or bugs that like to bother your chickens. You can also dust your chickens’ bottoms and under their wings too.
4. If your hen ends up with an egg stuck in her vent, gently coat the area with Vaseline and coax the egg out. If the egg breaks inside, then you will need to go to the vet. It can lead to egg peritonitis.
5. If your hen has a prolapsed vent (the inner portion of the vent is sticking out), treat it like a hemorrhoid. Put a mixture of Neosporin and Preparation H on it. Keep her in a warm dark place and limit her amount of food, not water, until the vent returns to normal.
6. In winter or a wet spring while cleaning the coop, toss the dirty shavings and straw from the coop into the run. This helps dry out wet areas and the chickens will turn it into compost very quickly for use in your garden.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Do you have any to share?
Every morning when I let the girls out, I always watch them for a few minutes. Mostly to make sure everyone is feeling good, happy and acting themselves. I pick each of them up almost on a daily basis. Just to check-in. About 2 months ago, Tilly was not acting her normal self.
Tilly seemed sad. Her head and tail were both down. She was sluggish and not pecking at the ground like everyone else. I continued to watch her for a few days and she became worse. She started sneezing, breathing like she had something stuck in her throat and had a runny nose. Tilly was definitely ill and not getting better. I became worried for a few reasons. First, she was our head hen. We like her in that order. She keeps the girls calm and when she free ranges, she never goes too far away from the coop. Second, she was just a baby. She had so much more life to live. Third, we were raising them entirely organically. This meant no medications. Fourth, she was a beloved pet.
Initally I read all my chicken references on hand. The diagnosis was still unclear. Cape Cod being small and rather rural, I was unsure that I could even locate a veterinarian with chicken experience. After making a few phone calls, I was able to reach a vet that does treat birds and has started to spread over into the realm of chickens. She was about a half hour away.
I caught Tilly, and put her in a Pampers box. She was quiet the entire way. While checking in and waiting in the waiting room, she only wanted to be held in my lap. She nuzzled into my arm and closed her eyes. This was not my Tilly. Finally, we saw the vet. After her exam, it was not entirely clear as to what was going on. Therefore, the vet decided to deworm the entire flock and give Tilly an antibiotic for a respiratory infection.
Tilly was on the antibiotic for 5 days. By day 4 she seemed to be getting better. Afterwards though, I noticed that her crop became rather enlarged, soft and squishy. After extensive internet research, I figured out that Tilly developed a sour crop from the antibiotics she was on for her respiratory infection. I subsequently treated her with Nystatin for 10 days.
Tilly’s crop was distended for about 1 month. It has since then made a full recovery. This is the point at which I started giving the chickens the weekly yogurt and adding apple cider vinegar to their water supply. I feel that both are adding to the overall digestive health of our chickens.
What about raising the chickens entirely organically? Well sometimes life takes those unexpected turns for the worse. If I hadn’t given her the antibiotics which did violate organic chicken raising, then we would not have Tilly. The antibiotics saved Tilly for that I am sure. We still have our chickens on an organic feed. So our eggs will have an organic component. I’m just glad that Tilly is still with us.