Friday, February 20, 2009

Fried chicken, almost!

Two weeks ago something happened with Chico that could possible have turned out devastating for the entire flock. With the extreme dips in temperature we often get from the end of December until the end of March, I have to keep a heat lamp on the water most days. From early morning until noon and then again from evening until night the heat lamp keeps the water from freezing.

One day I walked in and noticed something funny about Chico, he seemed to be missing his punk-rocker tufts on the top of his head. When I caught him to examine further, I saw that he was singed on the top of his head. Chico is not tall enough to get so close as to burn himself, so the only thing I can think of is that he must have been standing under the lamp and started to crow. By crowing he would stretch himself up as far as he could and must have bumped his head on the lamp or came close enough to singe his feathers. The feathers of a Silkie are very fine and I assume that is why they burned under the heat, I can't help think what if they did not melt from the heat, but instead caught on fire. With straw and shavings on the floor and everything else made from wood, I hate to think of what could have happened and the way they would have suffered.

You can almost see a little touch of the blackened feathers on top.

The heat lamp was a larger one than the in the picture above, I raised it a little higher but the hens took it out a few days later. A few hens have this bad habit of flying off the perch right into the heat lamp, as I went to enter the coop, one of the little bombers jumped off the perch and took a nose dive into the heat lamp, banging the bulb on the metal water container and breaking the coil inside the bulb. The new heat lamp is not as hot but still does the job. Actually I have not used the heat lamp for the last week, if the temperature does not dip 15 degrees below freezing, the coop stays warm enough to keep the water from turning to ice.

The girls are doing pretty good now and not wasting a lot of feed on me. I suspected the black hens were the ones pulling the feed out and from watching them I was right. I don't like when people debeak chickens but I can understand why, the blacks with their full beaks are the ones who will cause any trouble, the reds almost never fight or waste feed. Even little Gracie with her full beak, will toss out grains that she does not want. I placed mostly straw around the feeder as this encourages them to scratch for dropped or tossed grains. The rest of the house I used shavings. I worry that the black hens may be picking out the best feed and leaving the rest for the reds as the food comes out slower, for the last few days the egg numbers have gone down to three a day so I suspect something is wrong. I imagine in six weeks I will be able to let the girls out and that should solve the boredom problems, as for now there is still a thick sheet of ice and snow covering their yard.


John Gray said...

I bought a feed "guard" the other day, boy does it work well on the feeder! no waste!!!!!!!!!

I love the look of chico, but I think my common birds would pick on him if he was mine!!!

Amy said...

Awww poor Chico!

I also love the look of him....if i had my way i would go for a silkie rooster but Steven wants a bantam rooster.

Amy :)

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

John: Sounds like a good idea, I will try to see if I can get some sort of feed guard for my feeder.
Against a larger rooster Chico would never stand a chance but as far as larger hens he is all about being the boss, little guy with a BIG attitude! He can really bite and has a double kick like a little Jackie Chan!

Amy: Well with a name like Steven your husband probably is a very smart man, so usually it would be best to listen to him. ;P However in this case, take him to see one, Silkies are very small, crow nice but not too loud and most are very calm by nature.
Bantams are cute too though, I had some real nice ones when I was a teen.

Amy said...

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog!

And it gave Steven a big head when i told him he was a smart man and i should listen to him...I will get my own way though because i really want a chico!!

Amy :)