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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lucy in the Sky

Lucy passed on last night, warm in a kitty cage in the house. One week ago, she began acting a bit unlike herself. Twice, she perched in a tree and wouldn't go into roost without some human intervention. Last night,  all the chickens ventured safely inside the coop, but she resting right by the coop door, apparently unable to make the jump. So, we brought her in.

The dazed look she exhibited struck an immediate cord with us. We've lost several hens to Marek's, and this is a common symptom. When she was hatched, she received the Marek's vaccination, but we're wondering if it is not a 100% guarantee.  Recently, she had a terrible molt. We're curious if this stressed her body out so much that she was more vulnerable.

Now, we've only three hens and one rooster left. Something that is stressing both of us is the question of whether or not to get more hens. Neither of us grew up with any sort of farm animal, so we're curious if this much loss is normal. In our three-year stint with chickens, we've had 13, and now we have 4. Is this much loss expected? Rocky, the rooster is a big guy, and I'm concerned three hens (one of them a Bantam) are not enough. Thoughts? Experience? Any help or advice is appreciated (except to cull the other birds; two are vaccinated, and two are just carriers).

For now...enjoy the biography I wrote 1.5 weeks ago for our wonderful pet-sitter, who wanted to know everything about all of the pets, including the pet birds.

Name: Lucy
Nicknames: Lucy-Poo, Lucy in the sky
Hatch Date: 23 March 2011
Breed: Easter Egger
Eggs: Pinkish-white, medium
Second hen in the pecking order

          Lucy arrived in the same box as Rocky, the rooster, and Sadie, the hen.  If you close your eyes and think of a baby chick, she looked exactly like the picture you most likely conjured up in your head. Fluffy, yellow, and peeping.  Like this . . .
Lucy’s always been a bit standoffish, not into being held for long. When she was a pullet, she’d wonder away from her flock. She’s her own lady. Unfortunately for her, she is one of Rocky’s favorite ladies. For a while, she was losing feathers like mad, and we’re still not entirely certain if it was a molt, damage from Rocky’s spurs and beak, or a combination of the two. She looked pretty ragged.
          Lucy had a bit of a raggedy situation as a little chick, too. She pasted up, which happens to chicks when too much of their doo is sticking to their rumps. It can be deadly if their humans aren’t taking care to look at their tuckuses.  Luckily for Lucy, her humans were paying attention. One night we found ourselves in the bathroom, under dim light, wiping our little chick’s butt. Never would have imagined that scene when I was 18…
          Lucy is impossible to catch…probably because of her sort of anti-human sentiments. I’ve watched Andy chase her around the same tree for 15 minutes, and I’ve done the same. Solely because of her, I wouldn’t recommend free-ranging the hens until you’ve had some experience handling them. The skill of Lucy=catching might take some time to develop!
          You’ll observe Lucy to this day sort of doing her own thing. Yell out, “Chickie, chickies, chickies,’ offer a treat, and she’ll come a-waddling to greet you. She’s pretty darn cute.

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