♥ Chickens

Growing Gobblers – Dogs with Feathers

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What’s not to love about this face.
I can’t tell you how much I love my turkeys. If you follow me on any social media sources, you have seen Sawyer and Huck come in for a nap, a storm, a treat. They have gone for a walk and have been asked to come in to work to visit. They have no idea they are turkeys. If you ask them, they own us. They keep our dogs in check, boss around the chicks and even give HP a run for his money, in terms of being head of the flock.

Is it hard to own Turkeys?
No more than chickens, but understand with that comment does come pet responsibility.
Housing – Food – Basic needs are pretty much standard with a few caveats.

28843561671_257c22621e_nBlackhead Disease
This will come up in every post you  read.  Two options – Prevent with cayenne pepper sprinkled in water or treat with acidified copper sulfate . This can be tricky, when Turkeys get sick, they go down fast. Earthworms are a big contributor to this disease not just chicken droppings. Maintaining a clean coop and separate space for them to live (wreak havoc on) is a great start.
Housing
The girls were fine at first in a brooder. Went outside after 8 weeks (immunity and bio security) to a small pen next to the coop to get acquainted. Then they moved in. Most poults mature at 21-28 weeks. They need to be done after spring chick season for massive fall harvest (traditionally). Obviously our ladies were pets so there was to be none of that, but they grow fast.

28919417415_c54f4fb51d_nAfter two weeks in a grow out pen they were teenagers, large and clearly not having any thing to do with a tiny redwood Amazon house. We let them in with the big chickens. We created a really super easy run as you can see that links the two areas together. For the baby chicks that were growing too, it was also a sanctuary to hide from the big girls.

This kept everyone pretty much at peace. Until it didn’t.

Cannibalism – Turkeys do it. Give them one reason and they will tear another bird up. Almost immediately they started pecking everyone and bossing everyone around. One night they pecked Cluck and must have broken skin. When I went out later for a coop check she had her scalp peeled almost all the way back. Luckily Cluck is a smart girl and hid in the nest boxes in the small pen where she couldn’t be seen. I brought her in for treatment (another story) and 28634176070_9ddf521929_nplanned turkey training 101. When the chicks came out in the yard with the big girls to bath and play, the Turks stayed in.

It was like living with toddlers all over again. When they learned to share, they were treated. I used mealworms as a reward system. They learned to share quickly.

Food
If you are growing broiler/harvest birds they need to be on incredibly higher protein feed to fatten up. I was concerned about doing this for our birds being they were broad-breasted (commercial) and I didn’t want to injure their legs. Turkeys get joint issues from getting to fat to quick. Much like chicken production farming – they are not meant to “live” past a certain age.
Another note – our 28634169460_c0638060a8girls were never supposed to be regular eggs layers. Because they are not a heritage breed. We have had a beautiful large egg every day since they started. Tell me that’s not love. Go ahead try. 🙂
What I can suggest – delicious organic feed mixed with supplements (kale herbs probiotic) and given lightly – plus the opportunity to free range every evening.

Move out – Come fall they were not simply fitting up the ramp to the coop. We noticed they were actually sleeping outside. Dangerous, because our run was for daytime exercise only,  and not healthy. We (my husband) built a small 6×8 shed. Door out to run that closes at night for security, main door for me to get in clean and egg grab.

Pretty soon the chicks that had been in the brooder started joining them and it was one big happy family. Right now everyone is in there, while our new babies are separated in the coop.

Things People Don’t Tell You:

They are like watchdogs. No one comes in our yard that they don’t know. They will cut you. I have to be very careful with our small guests because they bite hard.
They come up and sit on chairs, the deck and beg at the back door for cookies.
They love to eat ANYTHING. Our yard is a crap hole this year due to their piggie ways.
You will fall madly in love and get really attached.
You will love kissing them on their dimply heads and flicking their wobbles.
They bark and talk and love to cuddle. Sawyer frequently would take naps with me on the deck.
They fly. Not so much the broad breasted (heavy) but heritage breeds can get altitude. Clips wings !
Poop is like a massive stink ball. Great fertilizer however after 3 mos in the compost pile.

Got questions for me ?

 

 

♥ Chickens

Bug Be Gone – Lice Mites Oh My

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Warning Friends: There is a picture in here of graphic buggy grossness. If like me, you get the willies from odd textures (bumps trypophobia pox or anything else that resembles a puss filled sack of something that will make you puke) do not scroll down.

It has been 7 days since we vaccinated everyone on the farmstead for Marek’s Disease, and I am happy to report so far we have healthy birds. We are certainly not out of the woods, but as promised I want to dialogue this whole process as much as possible.  Hopefully to give you an understanding of everything we went through to help spread education and resources to anyone interested in providing the best animal care for their flocks.

On handling the “Petals”, it appears our lice problem flared back up. As mentioned we knew early on into the bio security separation and inclusion of these birds into our flock, that they had numerous issues. Lice is not that uncommon unfortunately. Luckily most flocks combat infestations of lice and mites through the process of dust baths. Dust, wood ash, little DE and you have a cocktail that keeps birds free from most of these. This year however was our year to learn.

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Insert puke noises now.
In the photo at the top of the blog Iris appears to have “dust” on her face. Closer inspections shows the tell-tale “q-tip” formations at the base of the feather shaft and clusters around her head and vent. Under the wings you will see what appear to be tiny straw dust particles that then suddenly MOVE! Boom yuck screech go the wheels in my head… Lice. My OCD now tells me I am itchy and must bath in bleach.

Here’s some things to make note of:

Back when we started all the meds before we got confirmation of Marek’s from the GPLN – we dusted the girls in DE. Huge respiratory issues. Not saying it was the cause, I do believe in light DE use. But honestly, if it irritates my eyes and nose, I am not going to drown my birds in it. Sorry.  Also coming from Vet input: DE will not remove a lice infestation. It can assist in alleviating scratching itchy and kill current adult louse. Eggs have hatch stages.

1- Clean the coop and remove all feathers bedding and anything that lice could be attached to.
2- Give it a good scrubbing – probably been awhile so get in there with the hose and any organic cleaner you prefer. This is just to do some good hygiene while you take care of the problem. It’s not going to remove the problem but it always helps to start with a clean slate.
3- Permethrin 10% – People have also recommended Elector- PSP. I chose this because it was suggested by my vet knowing my preferred earth keeping ways. I have yet to find an “organic” treatment. You have to eradicate lice, not encourage them to participate differently and kindly. Their hosts are your chickens. They’re not leaving unless you kill the suckers.

$10 – Amazon Prime available
4- Move your birds to an outside area to dust bathe and enjoy the sun. If you have two separate flocks going for bio security still – it’s not hard to create two different spaces. But you need to do ALL coops runs and houses for both flocks. They need to be out of the area for at least 4 hours for everything to dry nicely. Spray that sh*t like you are at a bubble party.
5- Dry the houses. Pull a Game of Thrones and start dipping the birds. Because I was concerned to get the babies fully wet given recent health concerns we did a fine mist under the wings, vent and cotton ball the head neck and around the ears thoroughly.

Seven days in – Iris is CONSIDERABLY bug free. There are a few eggs that either have not shed died or she has not dusted off. At the 14 day mark we will again spray crazy, mist the girls rinse and repeat. This goes through multiple hatch phases. There is no egg withdrawal.

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Phlox and Camilla enjoying some sunshine and fresh grass clippings.

We handle our birds daily and honestly it is probably the best way to detect any health issues. With one illness down, summer heat relief in progress, and now the buggy problem moving to being removed, the girls really should start feeling good.

Planning for next year: I will begin spraying as the weather warms up.

Please ask questions !

♥ Chickens

Understanding and Combating Marek’s Disease

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I want to share an experience with all my chicken pals and of course those interested in keeping backyard flocks. Knowledge is power and while it looked easy for our Grandparents, there were probably some not so pretty parts we didn’t see. To say raising a flock is easy would not be fair. With some time and knowledge however you can be an awesome crazy chicken person too!  Part of that does include vaccinations just like with any pet or livestock.

“Marek’s disease is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease in chickens. It is named after József Marek, a Hungarian veterinarian. Occasionally misdiagnosed as an abtissue pathology it is caused by an alphaherpesvirus known as ‘Marek’s disease virus‘ (MDV) or Gallidherpesvirus 2 (GaHV-2).”

There are numerous threads and a million sites to get lost down, so I hope this sums up and gives you a valuable point of reference when you are out getting new members for your flock. Basically put: it’s a silent killer spread through flocks and sometimes from wild birds. Secondary symptoms can show as sour crop, respiratory, and even look initially like Cocci. Birds can appear to recover from these symptoms get better and then die unexpectedly well until after 21+ weeks of age. Chicks obviously are the most vulnerable and usually fastest to expire.

1- Assume every chicken  you come in contact with has it. This year according to most agriculture and state poultry labs, it has shown in the majority of their necropsies.

2- As much as we love to hold cuddle and examine – don’t pick up any chicks unless you are truly inspecting to buy. Do not wear those clothes out to your yard with out a good cleaning and that includes you too! Marek’s can be transmitted from inhalation of dander.

3-  Breeders – I love them and we should absolutely support those looking to better the breed. But do your legwork. Do they vaccinate ? Why not? Can they show records of their line? Mortality and Hatch rates? Are they indeed NPIP and did they do any expanded testing? In looking at most NPIP requirements, sadly for the 8$ fee for membership do any test for complex diseases. It is more about testing for things that would take out commercial flocks or impact table food and not every state even does all of these:

Pullorum
Fowl typhoid
Avian mycoplasmas:
Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG)
Mycoplasma synoviae (MS)
Mycoplasma meleagridis (MM)
Salmonella enterica
Avian influenza

Our Experience

In April (2016) we had a hatch due. Previously we had bought the OCs (Original Chickens) from a well reviewed and transparent breeder in N.Ga. We were given records and I had checked her processes carefully. This is where Leroy Jenkins (broody) came from. Leroy hatched the Littles and then of course we bought our Rockstars from MyPetChicken.

Each hen has been vaccinated. We have never had issues. I mean none – even some of the common everyday things. I will fully raise my hand and state I am OCD. Our coops are cleaned every week. I constantly remove wastes. Etc.

Leroy lost several eggs on this hatch and even killed two babies. I bought sell out stock from a breeder of some lines I have been dying to have. Usually I am insane about quarantine, but on reading, several sources seemed to really approve putting new babies under a broody at night. From an incubator to a brooder – week old’s shouldn’t pose illness risks.

First. WRONG

First night Leroy killed 3 of the new babies. Serious money down the drain but emotionally was horrible for my daughter who found them. I almost wonder then, if she knew. We had to separate and brought her hatch and the new ones inside. In hindsight this was pretty smart or our entire flock may now be  gone.

As I have detailed on social media, we went through rounds of meds. As the first birds began to pass I was devastated. It’s really hard to see a little baby pass. Luckily they were warm in a hospital isolation crate had lots of treats and soft blankies. After Rose and Violet passed I had, had enough and took birds to GPLN for necropsy.

In addition to the weird ailments, we had a bird that never thrived. Another just couldn’t stop coughing/snicking. There were grotesque infestations of lice – so bad one birds face was in 2 days a chicken shaped sack of larvae. Yeah you think it sounds gross… I have a weird texture thing and just about puked. We treated re-treated scrubbed and even took apart coop pieces to treat and white glove the heck out of everything. My husband even removed the floor. I had always been so careful and was now in a full panic.

This week I got all final tests back from GPLN. Marek’s. In an attempt to break this disease in its cycle I preventatively bought a vaccination kit from Dr. Peter Brown at First State Vet Supply. It seemed to be so much bigger than my skill-set. He makes you ready to go and got me through the whole thing like a pro. He also replied to an email and encouraged me to think about getting the others done at the same time -” regardless of age or exposure – studies indicate all birds should be vaccinated.”
And everyone did !

I hold no one at fault unfortunately its a difficult disease, but it is easily stopped if you vaccinate. Check for lice as well on baby birds. Several of the eggs that pipped under Leroy died. Lice get in instantly. The carry more than Marek’s in blood transfer. The Liberty Belles are inside and incredibly healthy (hands knocking on wood) and will stay inside with Cluck for a few weeks to build up healthy immunity and strong muscles. They have been on organic food, good treats and lots of caring TLC. They also got vaccinated first.

Do you have questions? Let’s discuss. I will keep you posted on our progress.

 

♥ Chickens · ♥ Life

Menstrual Benefits of Cinnamon

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” I really don’t need buns of steel. I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.”
– Ellen DeGeneres

As a woman over forty I have the wonderful benefit of now considering and planning for menopause. Seems early, I am sure, to some of you with stellar reproductive health. With complications too numerous to list but apparently fairly common, including: introverted uterus, cystic conditions, cervical conditions, extreme menstrual cramps, hormonal migraines and fibrocystic breast disease.

I have sought out comfort in traditional as well as more natural remedies. There are things I can not go completely herbal for, but I appreciate all the help I can get.

Enter Cinnamon. Recent studies are showing relief in this former pancake and toast shaker. No wonder we all feel great after pumpkin pie! Kidding. Well no I am not. I love pumpkin pie. Ilam Medical School in Iran recently recruited women for a research project with cinnamon.

Ages ranged between 18 and 30 with equal segments being divided into two groups. One given a placebo and the other cinnamon. The cinna-buns took 420mg three times a day during the first 3 days of their cycle. In month two results became very clear. Less excessive bleeding (amen to the murder scene in my pants) and the reduction of severe cramps, headaches and nausea.

The other benefits that we now know are supported through other research –  helps heart health, weight loss, and diabetic insulin issues. I am going to try it next month and report back. First findings will be followed by additional months as I do believe sometimes you need comparisons to get a full picture (or read – I am always skeptical so I will keep testing).

The best reviews I found are so far this:

Amazon Prime

Let me know if you try it !

♥ Garden · Uncategorized

HotSpot Happy 4th !

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Courtesy Nantahala Farms

The weather is frightful and there is very little that will keep a chick cool beyond a refreshing dip in the pool. The same could be said for feathered friends. Our run and coops are in the direct path of the afternoon sun. I have really considered this week, letting the girls go free range full time.

The benefits of course are plenty – bug control – ability to cool off – even better eggs – less feed. My concern: As I write this our neighborhood hawk family just landed on the oak above me.

Stress heat and exertion are all things that can lead to lower immune responses, illness and even death in chickens. On our forefathers farms hens were able to run in an area, find retreat from the heat and be able to escape predator approach. Backyards can be slightly more restrictive.

Through July and August please make sure your pets have plenty of water shade and options for cooling. Baby pools are an amazing way for dogs and other animals to get in and get wet to cool off. I love the idea in the photo above by placing some stacked stones or bricks to help everyone in and out. I’ll let you know if Sawyer and Huck explore dipping their turkey toes in the water!

Happy Fourth of July Everyone !

 

 

 

Uncategorized

A new Oasis

Something new from our tech pals at Kindle.

The Oasis is described as a slimmer, lighter, last longer new reader. Don’t we wish we all could say the same! In the family this new release is showcasing stronger glass and features that are designed to be put in vacation plans this summer. I really like the page flip buttons, and the no glare features. Conveniently it opens stock on June 30th 2016. Just in time to 2 day ship with Prime and have for a long weekend of reading !

A very fun surprise new to me, was the discovery of OverDrive. Here  you can find Libraries across the US to check out media from including books and music. Obviously it is geared to help you get access to your own libraries locally that utilize its services for readers just like Kindle. What is super rad to me, is that most libraries across the US will offer temporary cards. When we would hit the road in the RV in the summer, I usually got a card everywhere we went. There is something really magical about checking out a book from a new library.

I haven’t started my summer reading list yet. I had Chicken-Geddon happening. Perhaps now that the infirmary is closed I can find some wonderful reads for hot days!