Thursday, March 1, 2012

I am Now the Expert of Chicken Butts....


What a day, what a day, what a day on the Shawhan farm. First, lets start with a chicken update: So far, so good on Flock One. The Fortress has been doing it's job by keeping out predators, rats/mice (though they have tried by chewing on the door) and recent flood waters out of the chickie home. Dan has made it his mission in life to keep weasels out...this carried over to the chick brooder too, but that's a whole other post. The ladies must be feeling alright since yesterday we had a record egg day since the massacre. A total of 7 eggs instead of the usual 3 to 6.

I've had it in the back of my mind since bringing home our 20 bundles of joy about this thing in the chicken world called pastey butt. Sure it has a cute and funny name, but if left untreated, chicks can die from it. I didn't do any research for this post about pastey butt because I'm too tired right now, but it's when poo collects on the butt of a chick. Not sure why the dropping just doesn't drop off, instead it gets embedded in the little fluff around the chick's butt. It can keep building up until it blocks the hole, making it so the chick can't poo anymore. And not being able to poo is a bad thing!!!

So this morning I check my chicks again and compare them to Google images of pastey butt. Sure enough, I had some butts to wipe. At 9:30 A.M. I head outside with warm water, cotton balls, Q-tips, Vasaline and a little pair of bathroom scissors that I will never use on my face ever again. Now on my Google search, I read some interesting stuff. With the butt cleaning, you aren't supposed to stress your chicks, which is why they have a pastey butt to begin with...stress of they say.

I thought it would be a good idea to pick up every chick and after looking at it and cleaning it if need be, I'd put them in the box we brought them home in. HA.HA. The 5 I got in the box didn't like it and are bigger now than 5 days ago. I had to keep the lid shut so they wouldn't get out. I only did that for the first 5. As I got to looking, I noticed the only ones with pastey butt were the Golden Comets, A.K.A. my Golden Nuggets.... oh and Cadburry 2.0. (I try to hold Cadburry often so she gets tame....I don't think she'll like me anymore after today.)

Pastey butt is not fun to remove. I had about 6 cotton balls soaking in my water. I caught a chick, held her where I could see her butt good and started scrubbing. As one cotton ball would dry up I'd put it back in the water and get another. The water is supposed to help loosen the dried on poo. If that didn't work, I'd stealthily cut it out with the little scissors. (All the while praying to God the chick wouldn't chirp and get poked.) After that, I put Vasiline on their butts with a Q-tip. None of the chicks enjoyed their "spa experience". They even tried to peck me. All I could think was that I was stressing them out even more.

After more Google research I learned pastey butt also comes from the diet, or lack thereof. I also read people's suggestions to fix this problem. Some people feed their chicks yogurt, flax seed, scrambled eggs and hard-boiled egg yolks. I thought, Really??? These big farms are scrambling their chicks a breakfast everyday? I wasn't going to use any of these Internet remedies so I called a guy who knows his stuff on animal nutrition. I was to remove the sawdust shavings (since the chicks were probably eating that and not their feed) and put down newspaper and check to make sure a certain ingredient was in their feed. Simple enough....

Round 2 with the chicks was me out there disassembling brooder 2.0, lights, water, feeder...holding the lid of the brooder open with a broomstick and catching some very stressed out chicks and putting them into yet another box. Then I had to tip brooder 2.0 over and sweep out the shavings while praying I didn't break the lid and surrounding wooden frame. Meanwhile my emotions were getting the best of me. Once again I'm wondering why I'm even doing this. Dan was 3 hours away at a planter meeting, receiving a free lunch and I'm thinking, I'm losing it over chicks....what happens when I have a human baby to take care of? At least with a chick if one dies you can go to a feed store or the Amish guy down the road and get another one. If I can't handle THIS without Dan, how will I handle THAT? Plus I was stressing out my chicks, making them hate me and maybe making my problem even worse.

We were very spoiled with the ease of raising Flock One.

My day was filled with a lot of poo and a lot of tears. Owning chickens will teach you life lessons, make you question your sanity and give you the best entertainment that money can't buy.

"Our chicks lay the best!"

                                             ... cluck... cluck... chirp... chirp...

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