Warning - Don't be Eating when you read this post!
Funny the things they don't tell you when they sell you chickens. Yep, my beautiful girls looked just fine in the photos especially to me being an inexperienced buyer that had been longing for chickens. I've had Blackie and Molly for two days now and my family and I have fallen in love with them.
I know, its my own fault for not researching first but it was a Gumtree purchase and i really wanted chickens and like i said in Saturday's post, they had me at "hello".
So for those who want to use their head first before giving away their heart, here are a few things to look for. If you are showing them there is a long long list but this is the basics for the backyard owner who just wants happy healthy little bantams:
Eyes should be large and bright. They are usually red or orange/red.
Beak should be short and slightly curved.
Comb should be single, small, firm, straight and erect. Red in colour without blemishes.
Vent area should be clean and no discharge.
Legs and feet should be yellow in colour. Legs should be short and well apart. Feet should have four toes that are straight and all have toenails. Legs should be abundantly covered with soft outstanding feathers.
Pay attention to the description of healthy legs and feet.
Now take a look at my baby girls feet when i sat down to give them an all over health check after work tonight.
I don't know where to look and I'm sure you don't either. What of earth has happened to their feet. Molly's are just as bad. Poor poor girls. What i can tell you is that this is what happens when scale is left untreated for a long time. Pekins don't show their feet. They are totally covered in feathers that drag on the ground. This means they tread lightly on the soil and they don't do as much damage. Its a case of feet unseen. So you actually have to make the effort to pick them up and examine them and if necessary deal with the issue.
Its not pleasant but you know, you (or in this case I) chose to care for them. So with the aid of my ever willing assistant (my big sister who recently moved here from interstate to live making me the happiest sister in the world) we got to work on all five of them. We did all this at 4.30 pm as they were just becoming docile and sleepy. When we were finished we dried them and put them straight into the warm coop with plenty of bedding. I've covered the front doors with a thick towel to give them total darkness and protection from the winter air overnight. There is a building project for the weekend to build some nesting boxes on the side since ive more than doubled my original 2.
1. Soak the legs and feet in warm soapy water. This wasn't hard at all. We filled an old baking dish with warm water and a little dishwashing detergent and just lowered them down into it. They were so placid and seemed to enjoy their foot bath. I cleaned their feet and feathered legs with a small paint brush while Big Sis held them.
|One very relaxed chooky|
|Miss Honey in the drink|
|Lacy before her facial looking a little dry.|
|Molly in the foot bath|
|Molly, definately in need of a pedicure and nail trim.|
3. Treat scale by painting legs all over with olive oil using a soft paint brush.
4. While i had them in hand i also oiled their comb and the other parts on their head with oil. They were loving the attention and we were bonding.
|Honey getting her facial|
|And off to sleep she goes. Very Cute.|
I will continue the above treatment twice a week over the next few weeks and the scale will gradually fall off. I'm not sure what will be left but only the girls and I will know what goes on under their full feathered dresses.
For more information refer to How to remove scaly leg mites from Gav at Greening of Gavin.
One thousand thank you to Craig from Edible Gardens who was one the end of the phone when i saw the extent of the scale and panicked. Yep, I can do this.
So, now that Ive done the appropriate research and had a little hands on experience i now know that i have chosen not only the cutest of all bantam breeds but also one that involves a little more work than a normal chicken due to their overabundance of feathers. Trust me!
1. Check under their tail and cushion area for droppings that have stuck. You can trim this area and around the vent area lightly so that it doesn't get as dirty.
2. Check vent area for signs of lice or mites. As Pekins are lower to the ground they are more prone to getting lice than other poultry breeds. Use organic methods like providing wood ash in their dust bath. Be sure to stock up for use in summer also. Spray roosts with vinegar and citrus oil or Neemoil to prevent infestation.
3. Rub some Vitamin E cream or olive oil into combs and wattles as it keeps them from getting dry and flakey. All girls need a moisturiser.
4. Change bedding in their coop and sprinkle some ash through the bedding.
5. Garlic boosts their immune system - sprinkle minced garlic in their feed every now and then. Comfrey is a preventive medicine for chooks - just put a little in their yard. Apple Cider Vinegar in the water helps with disease causing organisms in the gut.
Inspect feet and toes (once any treatments have been completed) and trim nails.
Apply lice treatment if necessary.
Give them fresh food, grains and cereals, shell grit, and fresh water.
Pop them out onto the grass every few days for a nibble of greens.
Give them all a cuddle every day.
Oh, and i suppose i really should be checking for eggs. Forgot that's why i got them. LOL