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RuntyChick is back in intensive care

8 replies

duchesse · 29/08/2012 19:27

So, we went away on holiday for a few days, came back and discovered one of our hens sitting under the coop. I didn't know when they were due to hatch, having no idea when she started sitting. It turns out it was last weekend while we were away admiring my sister's new baby. I had moved her a few days before to an empty and closed coop so that she was safe and close to food and water.

Anyway, on Monday morning I discovered that although 8 of the 12 eggs had hatched well (about two days before by the looks of it, ie the day we went away), a 9th one seemed stuck- half the shell had gone but he seemed unable to crack his way out, and the membrane had dried up around him. So I soaked the egg in warm water until the membrane softened, helped the little chick out, kept him on a hot water bottle all day and put him back under his mother when darkness fell.

Yesterday he was fine- not walking around much but I put that down to being slightly cramped in the egg for such a long time.

This evening I went down to feed them and found there were only 8 chicks visible- RuntyChick had disappeared and there was no sign of him. I searched the bedding and found him under a pile of bedding, hypothermic, damp and covered in bedding bits but still (just) alive.

I did my usual soaking in warm water thing to warm him (he started cheeping again), blow-dried him and popped him on a hot water bottle in the kitchen. I have since given him those instant pick me up drops, some cake crumbs and some water and he's really perked up. He's still not walking very well yet though, although he seems to be getting stronger.

So my question is- does his mother know something I don't? Is he so special needs he's not going to make it? Is it worth bothering keeping on saving him?

OP posts:
SundaeGirl · 30/08/2012 19:58

Well, it depends on whether your happy to do it. It isn't going to do any harm though, it might just be that you get a bit of a sub-optimal bird!

I probably wouldn't bother, because I am a big meanie and because it's nice to have an all round strong healthy flock in a perfect world. But if he's won you over there'll be no harm in it.

A surprise hatch of 8 is exciting. Congratulations! What breed are they?

duchesse · 30/08/2012 20:31

Alas, or maybe luckily, RuntyChick didn't make it through the night. I guess his mother did know best.

OP posts:
duchesse · 30/08/2012 20:33

And the mother is an Araucana. Looking at the chicks, I'd say three of them are also Araucana and the rest 1/2 Araucana 1/2 RIR. I run all my birds together unless I'm breeding and since I wasn't intending to breed, they are mongrels!

OP posts:
SundaeGirl · 31/08/2012 07:45

Oh dear, maybe for the best and all that. How are the rest looking? What Will you do with them?

I've had chicks before but got them at 2/3 weeks. On Monday my first hatch should happen (marans plus assorted) so I'm picking up tips! What are the pick me up drops? Those sound useful.

I love araucanas - I've got one but she's still quite small at 4 months so I'm suspicious that I've been sold a bantam. Do you know if they're slow growers?

duchesse · 31/08/2012 08:10

Yes they are very slow growers! I wouldn't expect her to reach adult size and start laying before January tbh.

My last year's hedge hatch (all Araucana- the cock was still fully functioning clearly) was in October and they started laying in January when not yet fully grown. They seem to have stopped growing. I think maybe the fact they were eating layers' pellets from a comparatively young age might have sped up their maturation, but once they start laying, they stop growing. Mine still lay smaller eggs. So best keep her on growers' pellets rather than putting her on the layers' (if you haven't already!).

OP posts:
SundaeGirl · 31/08/2012 08:49

She's completely free range and barely eats any pellets. There are layers pellets which she can eat in the layers' run but she sleeps in a different shed somewhere else in the garden and hardly ever goes into the run. Do you think I should be encouraging them to eat more food provided by me? They just walk past it in the morning and head out for the garden/fields/wood. It just seemed a wasteful rat attractant to keep putting food out for them.

Thanks so much for your reply. It's particularly interesting because I was thinking of putting her and a couple of her friends (an appenzeller and the turkey that thinks it's a hen) in with the layers quite soon but maybe I'll delay that for a bit. Her comb has been really quite red since she was about 10 weeks but she's definitely a she not a he, that's why I wondered if she'd finished growing. What d'y'reckon is the optimum age for an Araucana to start laying?

duchesse · 31/08/2012 09:45

From past experience I'd say not before 6-7 months, depending on time of year when they reach POL. You probably know this already but hens start moulting (beyond their first season) as soon as the days start getting shorter (so about July-September) and don't lay during the moult, then start their new laying season as soon as the days start to get longer (around January). Birds don't tend to lay until there is 14 hours daylight a day. So for example, if your bird reaches POL as the days start getting shorter, she might not start laying until there is at least 14 hours daylight again or around January/February. Whereas if she reaches POL in January she might start to lay even if she is only 5 months old (which is what happened with my September/October birds, who started laying in February this year despite only being about 4-5 months old).

Look forward to those blue eggs! What colour is your Araucana?

The only other thing I would say about Araucanas is that they are quite mad and wild and often refuse to roost indoors. Ours head for the trees as soon as they have flight feathers (something atavistic there...), and lay in strange places (hedges, under coops etc...). Never a dull moment with them around the little feathered fuckers.

OP posts:
SundaeGirl · 31/08/2012 13:19

Thanks, that's good to hear. So if I move her into the layers coop late October that would probably be OK? I definitely don't want an early layer - very happy to wait until next year. I think the appenzeller will lay before then. Is it like women and periods? Do they set each off?!

She's a partridge Araucana. She's very sweet. Yesterday was the first time I stroked her though, she dead nervous of me. She's right at the bottom of the pecking order.

I cannot wait to name a bird Little Feathered Fucker.

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