Friday, November 9, 2012

Gnarly Bunch - Chapter 8 - 9/25/12



9/25/12

Today's update on the Raggedy Flock:  I'm glad to report that the flock is slowly warming up to my presence.  Not as warm as they used to be but still walking towards me now instead of running away.  They are consuming the fermented feeds well and I'm noticing more red combs and wattles with a slow color change coming back to beaks and legs. 

I've noticed the rooster and the largest hen, Moby Dick II, are still occasionally digging at the lice and mites at their back end.  I am currently cooking down a fresh batch of wood ashes to give them a deeper and better application for this.  The rest of the flock are not showing any signs of this and are showing noticeable improvement in feather growth...and this only after a week since their arrival. 

They have consumed 2 suet cakes and will receive a third one next week.  When we kill some deer this fall, all the fat will be carefully trimmed and saved for feeding to chickens and dog this winter.  Any meat scraps unfit for our consumption will be ground later and rationed out this winter.  I’, not usually this careful about flock nutrition but, then, I've never had a flock in this poor of condition before. 

Water with ACV and a sprinkle of epsom salts is still being offered.  Only time will tell if the epsoms has helped with the gleet.  The next examination of the flock will include combing vent feathers with a large toothed comb and clipping out any gleet clumps.  Then a reapplication of NuStock will be applied. 

Side Note:  The last roost I placed in the coop was a 2x4 with the 4 in. side as the roosting surface.  The chickens do not prefer this flat roost at all!  They all want to crowd onto the round roosts on either side and only use the flat one for a bridge between the two.  My birds have always had round roosts made from large saplings and I think they are spoiled at the comfort of these types of roosts.  They definitely conform to the natural curl of the foot more than the square/flat roost.  I'll have to put a round roost in its place soon.
 
Evening update on the Raggedy Bunch:  Daily I am seeing a slow return to the peace and calm that used to be a trait of this entire flock.  They don't scatter like rats when I approach and they are even moving towards me a little.  I think they are remembering, "Oh!  The Food Bringer!  I remember her....!"  They seem to be taking an active interest in the things I do in the coop to make it more comfy and homey for them... now they stand outside and watch the things I do. 

I miss my old timey coop and the comfortable old components it had...it also had more space.  But one works with what one has and this one can be made into something nice too. 

They are consuming the FF well and are very enthusiastic when it is dished out.  Still only getting one egg a day, but in light of what these birds have gone through and the ongoing gleet infection they all seem to carry, it doesn't surprise me that they are not well enough to be laying properly.  The egg that I am getting seems to come from one Barred Rock and the yolk has changed in the past few days into a deep orange and the yolk isn't as runny looking, with the shell getting more firm also. 

I see definite changes in the feathering...more gloss, more smoothness and more feather regrowth already.  Their eyes are no longer listless and the pale skin around their eyes, wattles and the pale beaks and legs are starting to change into a more healthy color.  Even the combs are getting redder as the days progress.  I'm amazed at the change that has happened in just one week. 

With this kind of multi-directional approach to restoring good health to this flock, it is very hard to know just which component of this health regimen is doing the most good...or if it's just the combination of them all.  I think the sunlight, fresh air and forage has the biggest benefit of all. 

I can't stress this enough to anyone wishing to get into raising chickens.... they are an outside animal and a big part of their dietary needs lie out on pasture and under the leaf cover of the forest floor.  If you cannot free range, at least try to set up a paddock system, even if you have a small yard.  Moving them to fresh habitat often will benefit your yard and the health of the bird...and it's really worth the effort when you consider the health of the flock and the food that they will produce from this simple maneuver.  Yeah..it takes more work than a simple run system, but raising livestock is work, make no mistake.  At least....doing it right is work. 

Gnarly Bunch - Chapter 9 - 9/26/12
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