Ah, chickens. They’re all so different. We have Strider, who is friendly, curious, totally low maintenance and lays like a trooper. We have Sam, who looks like a darling poof ball, is an expert forager, lays pretty consistently and let’s the whole world know when she’s doing it. Then we have Frodo. Frodo is elegant but somewhat nuts. She is the least friendly, the hardest to catch, constantly being left behind and does a rather fast spaz run when alarmed or left behind.
Frodo went broody for the second time in a rather short period of time, so she went into the broody breaker cage again. I had her in there for 5 days then let her out. After a foray in the orchard with the others I was feeling pleased. When I went to check on her later and collect the eggs she was in the nesting box, with her broody face. FRODO! I pushed her off the others’ eggs and took them out. I was about to pick her up and put her back in the broody breaker but when she saw me reaching for her she went, “Buaaark!” and shot out of the hen house and out of the run, doing her fast, bobbly spaz run all the way into the orchard. I was left watching the rapidly disappearing, slender chicken butt. Okay… Maybe Frodo isn’t as scatterbrained as I thought she was. She has not shown any signs of broodiness since the spaz run but I’m waiting for her egg-laying to recommence.
It’s just as well Frodo has exited the brooder breaker cage because I now need it for another unfortunate purpose. Yesterday evening I discovered that my dear Strider has a limp. In the afternoon when I took The Little Fulla to see the chickens, Strider was lying down in the grass, but I just assumed she was resting, or laying in a weird place. Silly me, Strider always comes to greet me. When I went out in the evening she was lying on the ground beside the woodshed, just outside their run. I got her to stand up and when she moved she was limping. Oh, no. She managed to walk inside the run and since this event coincided with the first evening of trying to wean The Little Fulla off his feeding to sleep at night (1 1/2 to 2 hours of solid tanking in his room every night, while better than how long he used to feed, was taking its toll and not getting any less) I left her in the hen house for the night.
I was scared to go and check the chickens this morning. What would I find? I’ve tried not to play favourites, but let’s be honest, Strider is far and above my favourite and the thought of losing her suddenly became unbearable. I knew rest was the best thing for a chicken limp so I just hoped she was resting and nothing terrible had happened. Sam and Frodo were hanging around near the run when I went out. Strider was in the favourite nesting box, alive and resting. Phew! I didn’t want to leave her there in case the others started picking on her so I turned the big cage back right-side up, filled it with wood shavings and put in food and water bowls for Strider. I added a crushed garlic clove as well as a dash of apple cider vinegar to her water to help her immune system. When I lifted her our of the hen house she was sitting on a jumbo-sized egg. The poor thing hadn’t laid yesterday, maybe because of her leg, so maybe that made today’s one extra big. It had to be her egg as she lays in the morning and Sam’s very similar-looking eggs always appear in the afternoon. She wasn’t altogether impressed about being put in the unfamiliar big cage, but didn’t make much of a fuss. She didn’t try to peck me or anything and was standing on one leg when I left her there.
I hate to see my poor Strider unwell and will have to check on her as often as I can. I hope this won’t impact on the pecking order either. It’s all very well putting the subordinate Frodo or Sam in the broody breaker cage but Strider is the boss, so who knows what effect this could have on the others? At least the cage is just outside the run, where the others can walk past so they can still be close to each other. Hopefully I have happier news next time…