The girls have settled in well now. Bunty has made sure that the others all know that she is still queen bitch, but the others really only pay her lip service… Sorry, beak service…
The new girls are all competent jumpers, and even with cropped wings they still manage to reach new heights – literally. We’ve had to put higher netting up around the fences after Knickers found herself in the neighbours garden…. after getting on top of the hen house, along the fence & over the trellis…
Three of them are like shadows whenever we go out into the garden. Hulahoop, Porsche and Sonic have to be at our feet as soon as they see us. Hulahoop goes One further and tries to be eye level – or at least as high and close to us as possible. They are all very lovely ladies, and we’re glad that these rescued hens have settled in so well.
Egg Peritonitis is when the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen) becomes inflamed due to an infection from bacteria. Peritonitis can occur after prolapse or when yolk goes into the abdominal cavity, instead of going down the oviduct and out in the normal way.
The yolk should go into the ‘ovarian pocket’ (the space surrounding the ovary). This often occurs after some viral diseases like Infective Bronchitis where the disease damages the reproductive tract. A ruptured intestine can also cause this problem.
Diagnosis and Treatment.
Sometimes a ‘Penguin Stance’ can indicate an egg bound hen or peritonitis but more often than not they don’t show this and may just be swollen around the abdomen and it is often hard to diagnose this problem whilst the bird is alive. The bird can have a blue comb, and diarrhoea but no book seems to believe these are conclusive and can also indicate many other problems. A post mortem on birds will show an inflamed abdomen and there will be a very putrid smell with yolk. Some birds have been treated with antibiotics and had the fluid drawn off but the chances of success are slim and you can often have a big bill at the end of this. It is usually better to have the bird put to sleep.
All a man made problem – It’s the trouble with how they’ve been bred into egg machines. If the already dodgy internals go wrong, the blockage is often quick & serious, as they have no recovery time before the next egg follows on. Okay, it’s a bit more complicated then that, but you get the picture.
Chris was saying the other day how all other birds lay seasonally (otherwise you’d forever see ducklings at a pond etc). Chickens have been manipulated to lay daily. That’s like running a car engine on the red-line…. all of the time.
Some battery farms artificially control the light so instead of a 24hr day, the hens have an 18hr day (e.g).
This year has been pretty crap for the girls. You get used to it because, well, it’s how they are. They are so characterful & individual though, it’s obvious when one goes.
Best we can do is give them a happy retirement!
Any day spent in freedom, is a better day for these girls.
Two years ago we took in some rescued ex-battery hens. We took in 4, as that seemed a good number. You have to get a minimum of 3 so they have company, and if introducing them to an established flock you need a few to help the introduction go smoothly, or the new (scrawny) hens will get picked on….
Rescued hens awaiting new owners.
When we lost our first hen, we thought it seemed a bit too quiet with just 3. We decided to take on 3 more to make it up to 6. The reasoning being that if we lost 3, we would still have 3, and we could get another 3…. 6 as a number worked really well.
It’s really rewarding looking after rescue hens. Just seeing them become fitter, healthier and friendlier is wonderful… and of course there are the benefits of the eggs…. Gloriously bright & tasty yellow yolks, like nothing you’ll get in the supermarket.
In fact recently we had to buy some free range eggs from Sainsburys supermarket (we needed some for a cake, and had run out). They were top of the range supermarket free range eggs… the best they had to offer…. and in comparison to the ones our hens are laying, even the best supermarket eggs lacked colour and flavour.
Anyway… We lost one, so dropped down to 5. Then a friend said he had 3 hens that he wanted to pass on, as his wife wasn’t too keen on them. I figured that 8 wasn’t too much of a step up from the 6 we’d had.
And then we lost two due to old age & complications. We were back to 6.
Early this year, T2 bowed out…
…and so did Mel.
Ex-batts can have quite short lives.
This is due to their breeding, and what they have been through.
Then last week another took a turn for the worse and passed away. We were back to 5, so we put our name down for 5 new rescue hens to make the number back up to 10…. yes, not 8… Well, the garden looked so empty without a good sized flock…
And then in the same week, before we had picked up the new girls, another of our old girls passed away… We were down to 4….
I quickly changed our order to 6 new rescue hens. We still wanted 10… 10 was enough. A good number. No more though.
Today we went to pick them up…. and the lady in charge had managed to rescue 100 extra hens and was offering to up people’s orders…
… which is why I drove home in the old Land Rover with 8 new rescue hens…. These ones were ex-free range, so in better health to start with.
Hang on… we’ve got neighbours…
The 8 lucky ladies
Hulahoop, Sonic, Lotus, Pingu,
Charger, Porsche, Phantom and Knickers
joined V8, 22,Ginger and Bunty.
That’s it… 12. No more.
They have good sleeping quarters, as Cluckingham Palace has two wings, each easily sleeping 6 birds – and 4 nest boxes.
If you want to look into ex-batt and ex-free rescue, then get in contact with the British Hen Welfare Trust. (Website or Facebook)
If you want a good start in getting a hen-house – or extending what you have – then contact Hen House World and tell them I send you! They are really helpful, and if you don’t mind damaged/returned parts, they can do a real good deal if you’re handy with the tools (It’s how I made Cluckingham Palace).
She was healthy looking, but prone to quiet spells. She had stopped laying a while back – She was the oldest of the girls.
She was a bit quieter today, and retaining fluid (Chris put this down to egg peritonitis – very basically: not laying, but still producing the protein).
Chris took her to the vets to get her checked out & fluids drained.
X-Ray showed that our plump bird had a large mass in her.
As she was drained she passed away.
The vet offered to find out what it was, and Chris said that it would be fine – if she could watch.
The vet (Fred McKenzie) from Farnborough’s Pets at Home – Companion Care was very interested to find out, as they don’t often deal with chickens. Chris watched on, equally interested.
Sure Crispy was a pet – but Crispy the clucking, squawking hen had ceased to be a pet the moment she passed away, now Crispy the pet was a memory, and the vet could learn from her to potentially help others.
The vet was excellent. After dissecting her, he found that the large amount of protein due the peritonitis meant that a certain cellular disease had a wonderful playground. Excuse my language, but ‘fuck you, cancer‘.
He even phoned later, after Chris had returned home, to say he had looked further in to it. He talked with Chris and confirmed the previous discussed diagnosis, and the dissection, was confirmed by his post-op research.
Crispy – Ruler of the Garden
Once more, as with the others, she was happy right up until the end.