Chicken chat

Can you hear that? That’s the Eye of the Tiger thumping in the background. Its playing for Debbie, the spunky Red Star chick, because she is alive this morning. Also on the play list: I Will Survive, Alive and Kicking, and We are the Champions.

I was ecstatic to see Debbie not only alive, but actually acting a lot more like her usual chicken self this morning. For the last several days, I had noticed a general decline in her activity level (she hardly moved when put outside to peck around and enjoy the sun). She also has developed this weird posture, drawing her head down into her shoulders (or whatever chickens have that are like shoulders) so she looked neck-less, while puffing out her feathers, and drooping her tail.

Last night after putting the chickens to bed, I realized that Debbie felt extremely light, like she had the body mass of a week old chick on the frame of an 8 week old chick. So I poked around on the Internet and diagnosed her as suffering from the dreaded Coccidiosis. I don’t want to bore you with details, but its really common for chicks to get it, which is why I feed them a medicated feed at this age. Its also really easy for them to die from it, and spread it to the other chickens.

One important thing I learned last night is that if the chick makes it to day 6 with the disease and hasn’t died, that she’ll probably survive. I couldn’t know for sure how long Debbie had been suffering, but I was pretty sure if she made it through the night last night, she’d be over the hurdle and on her way to recovery.

And she is. She is eating, and starting to move and peck, and open her eyes and look around again. I hope she gains weight fast, because she is just a pokey, bony frame covered in feathers right now.

Now I will be watching the other chicks to see if they get sick. They are just about to surpass the 8 week-old threshold where the danger of getting sick and dying from Coccidiosis is highest.

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(She is still doing her hunched neck thing in this photo, but I assure you she is doing much better this morning. That’s Jack watching over her on the right.)

The gardener’s market opens on Saturday (finally!), and I have plans to plant potatoes, carrots, and beets this weekend. The baby chickens are also going to get transitioned to their new outside run. What plans do you have this weekend? I hope you can get out and enjoy some beautiful weather.

-Susan

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