Sunday, October 17, 2010

Disappointment

Today I went down to the barn to care for the chickens and pick up the eggs.  In the Buff Orpington/Easter Egger's pen, I saw some feathers.  Looking around, I saw that one of the Buff Orpingtons was missing. 

I found her dead; wedged between a crate I had in the pen and the pen's sides.  After examining her, I suspect she died from being smothered by the other Buffs.  When cold, birds tend to pile and the stuckee on the bottom may suffocate.  I suspect that the weenie Buffs crowded for some reason right there and despite their so-called cold-weather hardiness, they piled and crushed the bird beneath it all.  I felt really bad.  I had a couple of days ago turned the heating mat on in that pen so they would have some warmth, but I guess they didn't notice.  So, I took out the crate and put the heat mat where the crate had been.  I also picked up the birds and put them on the mat.

At this point, I wrapped up the dead bird and put her in the freezer in case I need a necropsy performed.  At this point, I probably don't have anything big happening except a case of 5 birds who are weenies about the cold.  Still, it's important to have it in case I need to make sure there isn't a disease running through the coop (not likely -- everyone else is fine). 

She was thin, but at that age, they're all skinny.  They are on a free-feeding schedule with food and water available all the time.  I fill up their feeders about every other day, so I know they're eating.  The entire flock goes through about 250 lbs of feed a month plus food scraps plus bread from the bakeries plus hay and weeds.  On another note, the six hatched-out chicks are doing fine (knock wood) and haven't shown problems with the cold.

So, I'm hoping this is just a freak accident.

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