S. Bard

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since Feb 15, 2020
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Recent posts by S. Bard

I thought I’d give an update on our little rooster. After all of your advice and after observing him a little longer and seeing him acting in a good way (he had an appetite, he pooped, he was moving around) I decided he should get a chance to get through this. I thought of trying the banding technique Ellendra described; but since this is my first year raising chickens, and I couldn’t positively confirm what I was seeing was actually a tumor — so I bit the bullet and tried to find a veterinarian who would be willing to take a look at him. I figured that the money I’d pay for the vet would not only hopefully help our rooster, but it would give me a chance to closely observe whatever intervention would be necessary and learn a thing or two about treating chickens in the meantime.

I’m happy I trusted my gut instinct to not just cull the rooster straight away when I was advised to do so; because after a bit of searching— turns out few vetenarians want to bother with chickens because of their assumed ‘economical value’— I got lucky and found a vet that happened to also be a chicken enthousiast raising showbirds. He took a look at our rooster and told us it wasn’t a tumor or cyst after all, but a wound that had gotten scabbed over and pecked at repeatedly, causing it to bulge in such a weird way. He treated the wound and gave us some antibiotics, and told us that if the rooster could manage to gain some weight there’s a good chance he’ll heal from this.

I knew our little rooster — being only 5 months old and of a slow growing breed- was at the bottom of the pecking order together with his sister in our mixed flock. But I have never seen the other hens pecking him in the butt. Unless the pecking happened in the coop at night… So I’m not sure exactly how the wound happened.
Anyhow, the important thing is that he’s now warm and cosy inside. We also separated his sister — who is even smaller than he is — from the flock to avoid her being bullied even more by the other bigger hens now her brother is no longer around. I’ve put them together now, and the little rooster has noticeably perked up from her company. They ate their bellies full without having to fight for every scrap, and now they are snoozing contently on their roost. I hope to keep them inside for a bit until the rooster’s wound is healed and they both have managed to put a little more weight on so they’ll be stronger. I’ve got my fingers crossed our little rooster makes a full recovery. We’ll have to keep a lookout that his antibiotics are working and the wound doesn’t get infected. Any signs I should look for to spot an infection?

Thanks again everyone for the advice! I’ll keep you guys posted on the progress
2 years ago
Thanks for weighing in, Jay.

I just gave the rooster a soak in a warm bath to clean and inspect the area a bit better.
There is definitely no prolapse, but the tumor/cyst is about the diameter of a small pinky finger. It is round like a small pebble and only partially attached like a little sack; so not halfway embedded or something like that; if that description makes sense.
I am somewhat worried by the color of the growth, it’s not nice fleshy pink/red. It’s crusty/ scabbed black with some yellowish white which I assume is some sort of dried mucous. I did non touch it too much to see if I could rinse it off because I did not want to hurt the rooster.

I still saw some new blood which seemed to come from behind/ around the growth. But just a small amount.

I used some disinfectant after I cleaned around it, and then applied some honey around it in the hopes of avoiding infection.

After I dried him off and warmed him up in front of our fireplace, he pooped (on my skirt, ofcourse! ). He didn’t seem to noticeably struggle or strain while pooping, and the poop itself was really normal looking.
So for now it doesn’t look like he’s blocked up.
I did see him try to peck at his butt once or twice this evening.

I’ll keep him in observation for a day or two to see if his condition gets better or worse. If it comes to having to cull him, so be it. But I just want to give him at least a chance. And I just hope he’s not too much in discomfort in the meantime!!

2 years ago
Hi everyone,

I discovered my month old rooster this morning with a bleeding anus and what appeared to be a prolapse. This particular breed of chicken has an incredible amount of plumage; so I didn’t spot the issue sooner! The rooster had been a bit more sleepy/ puffed up feathers lately. But I had chalked it down to the cold weather of late.

Anyhow, after separating him from the flock and upon closer inspection; what I saw protruding from the vent doesn’t appear to be a prolapsed intestine but a very unfortunately placed tumor or cyst growing inside but near the end of the vent; partially clogging it. The bleeding seems likely to be from pecking at it.

I called a friend who breeds chickens for his opinion; which was to cull the animal because treatment will be very costly and likely to result in death anyway. And without treatment it seems very likely to him that the problem will only get worse.

I’m inclined to believe him; but having only just spotted the issue and without having had time to observe the animal first; I find it hard to condemn the animal to death so quickly. The thing that puts me off of culling him immediately is that the rooster still seems lively and responsive; and eager to fly out of its cage when given the chance. When I give him food, he gobbles it up eagerly. I haven’t seen him poop yet, so I don’t know yet to what degree the growth near his rectum is blocking him from passing excrement.
Unless I pay a costly vet; I have no way of telling if the growth is a cyst or a tumor. And I imagine these things don’t go away or shrink on their own without intervention?!
Am I doing the right thing by taking a few days to observe the animal to see if he could be able to live with the growtth without it giving him too much discomfort; or am I just prolonging his inevitable and probably painful death due to constipation or infection? Or even worse still: am I currently making him suffer more by letting him live a few extra days to observe when there is no chance of him getting better anyway? He doesn’t seem like he’s suffering right now as he seems very responsive and with an appetite, but I’m definitely no chicken expert!! Being 5 months pregnant sure doesn’t help in making difficult rational decisions about a sweet animal I’ve raised from chick!!

Any advice to help me make the right choice would be much appreciated!

2 years ago

Matt McSpadden wrote:Rodent problems are difficult. I'm not an expert, but I have dealt with and read a lot about mice and rats.

As has already been suggested, reduce the amount of food given. I understand the concern that it may make the rats more desperate, and you may need to kill some off while reducing the food. If there is any food left on the ground after say the first half hour... then you are probably feeding your birds too much.

Being pregnant, this might be difficult, but I would highly suggest moving your coop more frequently. Is there a family member or neighbor who might be able to help? It would have to be a very large area or a small number of chickens in order for you to leave it for a month and not cause damage to that plot of ground. By moving it more often it would make the rats have to work harder and make them more vulnerable to predators.

Hi Matt,

Thanks for all your suggestions! I did read about that co cartridge trap. A bit costly, but if that could help solve my problem I’m up for it!

As for your questions about the feed. The chickens generally eat everything within half an hour, except for whatever feed they accidentally bury or kick under the coop in their scratching efforts. I can see the rats digging up those few grains that the hens accidentally buried or kicked out of reach. Ofcourse there are also the occasional food scraps that Qi feed my chickens and sometimes there’s something in there that they don’t seem to like, so it’s left untouched. But I was using my chickens as my composting system, so that’s why I left any scraps that didn’t get eaten in there.

I was wondering also about your comment on moving the coop more often. This is my first year with the moving paddock system. I currently have 6 adult chickens and 4 chicks. They have a pen of 50 meters electric netting, which comes down to roughly about 150 square meters or 1600 square feet. Is this adequate to be moving the chickens once a month? Or is it too small? Our coop needs 2 people to lift and move it. So far my husband and I have been moving it, but soon my pregnancy will be too far to still be able to lift the coop at all. We don’t have family close, and only one neighbour, but we wouldn’t dare disturb them with the task of moving the coop more often then once a month (and even that sounds like a lot to ask).

We don’t have a rooster in our flock yet, but once we do, I might be up for it to train them to eat rats. Would be interesting if it worked.

2 years ago
I’ve seen the chickens and rats happily co-existing, the chickens don’t seem te even be looking at the rats.
I am however worried that if I feed my chickens even less, there will also be less leftovers for the rats to eat, and the rats might feel more inclined to try and eat my chicks or even my small breed chickens instead!
2 years ago
We have a problem with rats in and near our chicken run. During the day I often see a few rats jumping in the bushes when I move to the coop, and in the evening when the chickens are inside their coop, the run is  practically filled with rats! And these guys aren’t even scared of me, they’ll just be happily minding their business looking for food while I’m just a couple of feet away!

Aside from the rats near the chickens, we also have mice near our home (and whenever they find a new hole — in our home), and some type of squirrel-rats that are chewing up the insulation under our roof!! I love living in the countryside. But I’m pregnant, tired and overwhelmed, and this is just one worry to many to deal with! What do I do?

But let’s start by focusing on the rats - as these guys are seem to be the most urgent issue.

Our chickens are kept within a mobile coop with electric netting that is moved every month or so. We feed them grain that we scatter on the ground. We tried the automatic feeders with a pedal system that keep mice and rats away, but our chickens have a habit of throwing the feed out of the feeder to then eat it from the ground which doesn’t help. We also currently have a few chicks in the flock that don’t weigh enough to be able to activate the pedal to access the feed. So we went back to feeding the grain directly on the ground for now. We also give greens and kitchen  scraps to our hens. We don’t give too much grain that a lot of it remains on the ground at night. We feed in the morning, so by the evening almost all of it has been eaten by the hens. Nevertheless looking from the amount of rats I see, there must still be food to find for the pesky nibblers.

Now my question is: how much of a problem are rats really? Are they a health concern for me and my hens? Is there any permie-benefit at all to having this many rats around?
And if not, how should I go about getting rid of them?
I read that getting rid of rats needs a three pronged attack: removing their nest, removing their access to food and killing of whatever rats remain after that.
We live in a very wild and forested area with lots of piles of rocks, woods and leaves, and with a creek running through it, and lots of things for rodents to eat (lots of nut trees, lots of wild grasses that are in seed, berries,…) So really a forest creature’s paradise. So I don’t really see how I can remove their nests or stop them having access to food. Unless I clear our entire woods, and whatever beneficial foods and nesting areas for the other wildlife that we like to keep.

So that leaves the only other option: killing the rats.
I suppose the permie-way to do this would be to attract predators. But aside from owls, which I haven’t seen yet, there are already  snakes, foxes, eagles and stray cats in abundance. But clearly it isn’t enough to deal with this amount of rodents ( there is many talk in the village that the rodent population has really exploded these last years).
Also, because the rats get inside our electric netted paddock, cats and foxes can’t easily reach them while they are in there. And because our paddocks are in forested areas with much tree and ground cover, areal attacks from eagles or owls are also less likely to happen while the rats are in the paddock.

So whatever is left for me to do? Poison is ofcourse a big no. And I’m not to keen on having to touch the rats (Being pregnant, I really don’t want to have to touch these possible disease carrying critters on a daily basis), so the traditional traps that snap shut, where I have to touch the rats to get them out of the trap, aren’t going to work either. The live traps that let you release the rats elsewhere don’t seem like a good idea either, given that the village is already complaining of rats everywhere. And I’m not willing nor able to drive half an hour each day to release the rats in another part of the forest.
So what options do I have? Any advice would be very welcome!!

2 years ago
By the way May: I love those shots you made! Such pretty birds!

May Lotito wrote:I am wondering if your bird feeding is going along well now. It sounds like a bird paradise to have permanent creek in your yard!

Talking about natural bird feeders, here are some of mine.

Hi May,

The bird feeding ended up going well, and especially early spring we had attracted lots of birds to our little corner to feed. BUT we also managed to feed our ever growing mice population as well, and when they managed to nibble a hole in the bird feeder I had attached to a treebranch and had themselves a little party inside eating the whole lot, I called it quits for now. Now I’m on the lookout for a mouse-proof bird feeder system. Do any of you use mouse-proof feeders? I’d love to get some ideas of feeders I could make myself that keep the mice out.

I don’t mind a few mice in the garden, but our population seems to be thriving a little too much to my taste right now. I nearly trip over them when I go close up the hen house in the evening!

Ah got it! Thanks Micheal!

Would these already be too big to eat?
I've read they should best be eaten when small.
2 years ago

Michael Cox wrote:Looks right to me.

They lose the ring on the stem when the fruit reach full maturity and open out.

I’ve been picking mine daily for the past week.

Thanks Micheal, so those white bits attached to the gills might be what's left of the ring?
And how about that smaller specimen. I don't really see a ring around that one either.
2 years ago