Inevitable

One of the inevitable effects of having feathery feet is the grime that accumulates. Add to that the long term effect of scale mite, and you can see that from time to time a hen might need help to keep herself clean …

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It’s a lovely sunny day, so I filled a deep bowl with warm soapy water, added some Epsom salts, and with a bit of help from DD2 (which included catching a number of the bantams as they escaped around the garden :doh: ) gave each of the Moppets a good long soak in the bath before attempting to remove the layers of built up mud. Although we’ve treated the bantams for scale mite with Frontline (*not licensed for poultry*), so that it’s no longer active, many of their scales are still distorted and most of them have deformed feet. So it wasn’t always easy to tell which were lumps of mud and which were mud covered lumps … I was as gentle as I could be as I tried to scrape away at the accumulated dirt.

We dried them off as best we could, and have left them on grass until they’re dry – there’s little point letting them back into the run, which is now mostly bare, with wet feet, or they’ll be worse off than when we started!

One thing worried me during the bathing process – the bantam with the darkened comb was clearly distressed by being handled, her comb becoming quite a lot darker. I could feel her struggling to breath, and she was wheezing quietly. But she was the first to the feeding bowl when I put down some treats afterwards – see below – so no lasting damage was done.

I only had to cut the feathers off one hen, as I was unable to remove the mud/poo. I wonder if she’ll feel lopsided, like when a cat loses it’s whiskers?!

Speaking of which …

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It must be hot out there, as all the cats are draped around various parts of the garden. I love the way a cat seems to flow when it’s relaxed :)

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The last batch of peck blocks I made were as hard as rock, and all the hens had difficulty getting into them! But soaked in a little warm water, they make a yummy treat, so I put one down for the bantams as a distraction.

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I don’t suppose a warm bath and an enforced stay out of the nest box will help the four Moppets who have been camping out in the nest boxes … they’ve been broody for some weeks now. We’re getting one bantam egg a day, and around four ex-batt eggs – after some extra calcium in their feed (limestone flour) their shells are getting slightly stronger, although we still get the occasional broken egg or soft shell.

I’ve washed my hands repeatedly since bathing the hens, using soap and a nail brush … but they still smell of wet hen … it’s really not that pleasant. I hope it wears off soon!

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