Friday, December 7, 2012

Chicken Update: 1 Week Old

Chicks Update: 1 Week Old

The chickens are growing fast and furious. At one week old, I’d wager their twice their original weight, and as you can see, they've started to pick at their fuzz and develop true feathers. Chickens go through a series of “molts” (where they shed feathers for new ones) throughout their lives. The first, not really a true molt, occurs when they are chicks, they lose the fuzz and get tiny feathers. The second molt occurs just before they start laying eggs, around 5-6 months, and the last molt generally occurs around 2 years of age, and signifies a decrease in egg production and that it’s time for a new flock.

You can see the new feathers coming in their wings.
           While our chickens are looking happy and healthy, we have had a small health concern. On Tuesday, we noticed that a few chickens were developing “Sticky Bottoms” also known as pasting. It’s fairly common in newly hatched chicks, caused by chilling, overheating or improper feeding.  Given that it’s December and our thermometer are not exactly trustworthy, I’m going to say it was either chilling or overheating. Pasting is essentially when the soft droppings/manure stick to the chick’s vent and harden. If not taken care of, the dried droppings can seal the vent shut, and eventually cause death.

Poor Crusty Butt
To remove the hardened droppings, you hold the chick’s bum under running warm water to soften the mess, then, gently pick it off. Then you dab dry with a piece of paper towel and apply Vaseline or Neosporin to protect the infected area and prevent more poop from sticking. Since then I haven’t seen any more sticky bottoms, except for one. This poor gal was already the worst off, her vent was red and inflamed and protruding from her back end already when I first cleaned it. Unfortunately while picking off some of the poo, I pulled off some her tender young vent skin in the process. So, since then, I’ve been cleaning her backside and applying Neosporin a few times a day. It’s currently scabbing and less inflamed, but I don’t think she’s in the clear yet. Equally concerning, she hasn’t been eating much and has now replaced Happy Feet as the runt.

Today we’ll pick up adult-sized feeders and waterers, and I think we’ll continue to monitor poor Crusty Butt and possibly move inside until she’s healed and gained some weight. 

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