Monday, December 6, 2010

Chickam Update!

A little update on this year's Chickam babies!

We ended up with 12 chicks this year: two Salmon Faverolles (one male, one female), 5 Giant Cochins (three grays, two Golden Laced), two Silkies (one cuckoo and one black) and three Belgian d'Uccles (two Porcelain and one Black Mottled).

Unfortunately, we had some losses.

Out of the blue, Megatron, the Salmon Faverolle roo died one day. He had been perfectly healthy and happy, we just found him under a bush one day where he had sat down and died. Another very hard loss was Piggles, the tiny black mottled Belgian d'Uccle hen and Little Mac, the Golden Laced Giant Cochin roo.

Piggles was everyone's darling & favorite, a treat to have around, a charmer and beautiful to look at. Mac was growing into a stunning Giant Cochin, very calm and sweet. They passed after contracting Fowl Cholera, which again suddenly swept through our flock this year. One of the first signs of it is sudden death, and Piggles & Mac were the first victims. We had several other hens catch it, but luckily after last year I recognized it right away (thanks to Piggles & Mac) and successfully treated them. But losing two of the babies within two days of each other was SO hard, and so senseless...

Another loss, not wholly unexpected, was Puni, one of the two crippled gray Giant Cochin boys. Puni had hatched normally but had developed a leg bent 90 degrees to the side after a couple of weeks. Despite me making several splints for him the leg refused to return to normal, and by the time he had reached 3 months old he began having seizures and died several weeks later. We realized that there was nothing we could do for him so we just tried our best to keep him safe, loved and happy for the short time he was with us.

Sometimes that's all you can do.

The rest of the babies have lived on to become happy, rambunctious youngsters who have blended into our flock with relative ease. The two Silkies, Bruce (the Cuckoo) and Barney (the black)...

both proved to be roosters and just last month were rehomed with nice families who fell in love with them and had lovely Silkie hens at home that needed a fella, so we felt good about that.

Guardian, the last chick to hatch and a Giant gray Cochin roo, hatched with a twisted leg.

Again, despite my attempts to splint the leg into proper position it remained turned at the hock with his foot upside-down.

Guardian has surprised us all and grown to be a beautiful, quiet boy who is smart enough to spend his time either in the large run during the day or under cover of a tree or bush. He hops along well enough on one leg and eats, drinks and carries on normally, although he breathes hard from exerting himself. I can't say what his future will be since he is a VERY large breed chicken and may eventually grow to such a size that he cannot get around on one leg--but time will tell, and meanwhile he is spoiled rotten by everyone and loves to spend time as a houserooster from time to time. We'll keep him with us no matter what, since he's a special needs guy. He loves people and is very smart. I am going to take him to my new vet for an exam to see if he thinks that Guardian's leg can be surgically turned and repositioned to function better.

His sister, Yoya has grown into a very elegant gray Giant Cochin lady, possibly a show quality hen!

She has gorgeous feathering and form, and is already about twice the size of Phoenix, our Head Roo. This does not deter his romancing her, naturally...like a tall friend of mine used to say, 'I'm tall but I'm worth the climb!'.

Yoya is friendly enough but a bit cautious about people...she still hasn't quite figured out why they want to pick her up and snuggle her all the time--beautiful, fluffy girl that she is.

Sonic, the Golden Laced Giant Cochin, is smaller than Yoya but just as gorgeous. Like Yoya, she can't fathom why we constantly pick her up for snuggles, but she humors us!

Rugger, the Salmon Faverolle hen, is the class clown & character of the bunch.

She is extremely friendly, curious and VERY vocal--she 'talks' like a Siamese cat and makes all kinds of muttering, yowling noises when she talks to us. She really 'chews' her words! Rugger MUST be in the middle of whatever you are doing.

We worried a bit about Rugger when she was around 3 months old, when I picked her up one day and was shocked to find that she was dangerously skinny. It's natural for flock newcomers to be on the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to food, but knowing this we make a point to make sure that new members get a fair share of any goodies we pass out. I had noticed that Rugger never came when I called to pass out goodies, she'd just ignore us. This was unusual for a chicken to the point of it being an aberration--a severe one. Rugger was also skittish and we noticed she tended to startle easily. This, coupled with her being so skinny, made us check her over thoroughly for anything that might be an illness or parasite--but we found nothing. When Rugger was presented with goodies right in front of her she wolfed them down like any normal chicken, so we were a bit mystified...could her large facial fluffs be impeding her vision enough to do this? She DID have trouble seeing food already on the ground in front of her, but if we dropped it and she saw it go by, she followed it down and gobbled it up.

Then one day we were feeding her some bologna bits in the kitchen and realized that she was STILL ignoring us when we'd call to get her to come over for food, even when we'd call LOUDLY.

Rugger couldn't hear us.

Hitting on this, I experimented by coming up behind her and making a hellacious noise by banging a pot lid with a wooden spoon, something that should have made her jump out of her skin. Absolutely placid, serene...no reaction. Ah.

OK, so I have J. hold her while I grab her head and thoroughly inspect her earholes for any obstruction or other problem like mites. Faverolles have huge ear tufts so this was not easy and Rugger did NOT appreciate being manhandled in this way. But it lead to a discovery...

Rugger was deaf. Stone deaf.

Happily, once we realized this we took to training her to watch the other chickens and come running for goodies when she saw them come running for goodies. It also explained the skittishness, she just wasn't hearing us approach. Rugger is now fat, happy and suffers no disadvantage. But it's the first time I've ever had a deaf chicken! We just have to remember that she can't hear us, and not to sneak up on her and scare her.

The last two chicks are our matched pair of Porcelain Belgian d'Uccles.

Smokey, the first to hatch, has grown into a gorgeous, friendly little roo boy, and CM into a petite little demure hen. Both are typical Belgian d'Uccles and LOVE to sit in your lap for as long as you'll let them and be petted, total attention sponges. CM was tiny at hatch and has remained small, and Smokey thinks he is God's gift to the entire flock--but both are sweet and a joy to have around.  I love their colors--they look as if they are made of moonlight.

We're already looking forward to next year's Chickam, when I think that more Giant Cochins, Salmon Faverolles and Belgian d'Uccles are in the works...and we'll also be adding some Brahmas to the mix!

I am a sucker for good, fat hens and fluffy faces...


  1. From my friend annes:
    Nooo, Piggles!!! :( Piggles and Megs were my favourite. Really sad to hear about the other losses, but glad to hear the others are doing well. Love those little guys.

    They inspired me to do these:


    Poor Piggles. RIP little dude. We'll have a chicken free dinner tomorrow in memorial for a very awesome chicken.