Friday, May 6, 2011

Hen House Feather Frenzy

Happy Farm Girl Friday!  But not so Happy Hen House Friday.  From the outside, the hen house looks as spiffy as ever.  Hubs did such a wonderful job building it for me.
But it is what has been happening inside that has had myself and hubs so flustered this spring.  My largest hen Esther is a Black Jersey Giant.  She lost feathers this past winter on her neck and back.  Since April marked our first full year of raising chickens, I unknowingly  thought she was molting.  This is what she looks like right now.
You cannot see it but her back and the back of her legs are bare also.  After a lot of questions asked and a lot of reading we thought that we had one chicken that was snatching feathers from the others because within the last three weeks all but one of the girls was messing feathers and not growing any back.  We were told by the farm store to spray Blu-Kote on the irritated areas and seclude the bully from the other hens.
Poor thing, I was feeling very bad about this.  On top of it all she is the prettiest hen we had at the time but the only one we caught accosting the other hens.  We also cleaned out the hen house and started spraying all the other hens with the Blu-Kote which is medicated to help healing.  So we ended up with a lot of blue backed and blue bottomed hens.
 So a couple more days passed and I decided that Esther was just looking too terrible and was afraid I would wake up to a dead chicken so I started making phone calls again.  We live in the middle of farm country and do you know, there are no farm vets anywhere near us.  I was given a different phone number each time I made another call.  There was an office that would make calls for cows and horses but had nothing to do with chickens.  Finally I found a vet that was a couple of small towns over that deals in tropical birds and said he would see one of our chickens. This vet told me that our country is very low on farm vets and it is sad because we do not have anyone to take care of the animals that are being raised for the food on our table.  This was something I did not know and am sad to hear.  Hubs built a carrier and we packed Esther up and I drove her a half hour over to the vet.  She actually rode rather well and just kept up a little chatter most of the way.  Here is the shorter story.  Our hens have feather mites and they were biting off their own feathers.  Ouch.  So five days later we found ourselves again cleaning out the hen house and dusting it and also dusting all the hens.  We have to do this again in a few day time because if there were any mite eggs left on the feathers they hatch in ten days and we need to re-dust.  I was told these mites probably came from wild birds which we have a lot of.    The hen house is certainly going to be clean from getting swept, scrubbed and dusted for the third week in a row.

 Most of my hens are friendly but after all the spraying and dusting they are not wanting my attention.  When they see me coming they only check to see if I have something good for them to eat and if not they keep their distance.  Except Florence, she has always been my favorite and always comes over for a little petting or to get picked up.

 On a side note it has finally warmed up enough here in Michigan to pot up some flowers.  So far I have only picked up some Pansies and Violas from the greenhouse.
I split a flat of Pansies and Violas with my Mom in Love yesterday.  I love their happy faces.
I want to thank Tilly's Nest, whom I met at a previous Farmgirl Friday for all her help and suggestions on how to help with the hen house trauma.
Scoot over to Farmgirl and Farm Friends Fridays and check out all the fun posts that are being shared tonight.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!  Blessings!


Holly said...

Just what you want to do, repeat cleaning of the same old thing!!! Bummer! Hopefully things are under control and normalacy will resume!!! I love that coop of yours. We're thinking of building one as we'd like to get some chickens...someday...

mrs. c said...

I hope that the girls are doing better now. I appreciate that you are sharing this so others will learn about what can happen with chickens. I just love your hen house! I have peppers and tomatoes already in the ground, hope they do well. Have a great weekend!

Vintage Gal said...

Oh My ~ I hope your hens recover from the infestation. I am so glad you have chickens ~ I have 10 chicks and I am learning every day. Thanks for the info ~ ;-)

Camille said...

I hope your hens recover quickly.
Love the flower pictures. Pansies are so pretty and violas too!
Your hen house looks great. Like the color too.
Have a very Happy Mother's Day weekend!

Lorilee said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your chicken ailments! Your coop is beautiful! I definitely have coop envy! I have had a few hens go through very drastic molts after a possum attack. Also, my younger hens have bare backs from the rooster! So far no mites though. I have been watching and will continue to do so!

Backwoods Cottage Pam said...

Hi, loved the chicken story. My Grandma's chickens had an infestation of mites a few years ago and if you handle them much they can actually pass them on to you. My Grandma ended up getting them in her own hair. Just thought I would let you know in case you start itching. I dust my hen house, nests etc with food grade diatomacious (sp) earth regularly, it is supposed to kill mites and other critters. So far, so good.

Deborah Jean at Dandelion House said...

Hi Brenda,
Oh you have had a time of it haven't you? We had a similar experience with our first batch of 8 a few years back. I never did use a spray because it was a bullying issue we were having. I had one hen practically bald at one time. Your husband did a fantastic job on your red hen house. I love it! Like you, spring is finally here in the northeast too!
Thank you for your entry!

Brenda said...

Oh thank all of you for expressing your thoughts on my chicken problems. I think after we dust them again in a couple of days we will be able to tell better what is going on. And thank you for your comments on my hen house. My hubs is a wonderful builder and went to school for drafting, which he does not use except for these types of project, and tries very hard to build things as I see them. But to tell the truth he always changes them in the process of his drawing to suit the purpose better. I get a little annoyed but in the end his way is pretty much the best way. Pam!! Your comment about the mites getting in you grandmas hair gave me nightmares last night!!! I had read that they stay on the birds or in the house but do not live on humans. Nightmares I tell you!!! Deberah Jean I do think we still have a little bullying going on, I think it is happening because of the mite situation. I may still buy some kind of pecking spray. Yeah Spring!!!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Sorry to hear about your poor girls. I hope they are better soon and are able to enjoy their gorgeous coop.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Sorry to hear about your chickens! Hope everything clears up soon! They are so cute though . . . Your coop is just beautiful, you hubby did a beautiful job, he should sell plans on the internet! Have a wonderful weekend!

Bee Lady said...

Oh gosh, what a lot of work. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep them healthy though. Maybe what looks like bullying is just chickens eating mites off of each monkeys do!

Cindy Bee

Alica said...

You have a beautiful coop for your ladies. Tell hubby he did a great job! And I hope their ailments are soon over with!
Thanks for stopping by my blog the other's fun hearing from "new" people!

A Cultivated nest said...

Oh poor girls! I hope their doing better. Chickens are something I've been thinking about for the past year so it's good to hear what kind of problems can crop up because everyone makes having chickens seem so easy!


P.S. It's time to pull-out my pansies!

Boho Farm and Home said...

Oh! We have had those pesty mites too and it IS a pain. I used cat shampoo to bath my girls and then cleaned out the coop. Poor girls...hope they're better now!