Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Spot on Mercy
~~~ I just named a chicken. You know what that means don't you ? If I name a chicken , she is no longer just a chicken. She has a personality and a place here. I should NOT have named her. She should NOT have been allowed to live. No practical livestock keeper should have allowed her to live this long. She should have become chicken soup....oh well. I guess she can stay , her name is 'Mercy'.~~~Mercy was one of 25 chicks to arrive in the mail. She is a Cuckoo Maran, and I ordered this breed specially. She did not appear different when she arrived. After a week or two though, there were 7 chicks that were showing some foot problems. This was a problem. There was no reason my chicks should be in distress. I am the sole caretaker of the chicks I ordered and they did NOT lack proper bedding, food, water, warmth. I was quite diligent about this. I have raised chicks for about 20 years and I know what I am doing. ~~~I ordered the chicks from a producer I have purchased chicks from for years. I have always been happy with the chicks they sent and they stand behind the chicks they sell. I do not believe they sold me bad chicks. What is going on here though ? 7 out of 25 chicks is more than a 1 to 4 ratio of problem chicks. ~~~Anyway, most of the chickens with problems were roosters, and a surplus of roosters is common and easily taken care of. ( they end up in the stew pot ) ~~~There were 2 hens with foot problems. One hen was trampled to death early on in her life because she was unable to get out of the way when the chickens fed. This is common, and had I realized she was unable to get away I would have culled her earlier. ( cull: kill, get rid of ) ~~~Miss Mercy was unable to walk well, but there was something about her that kept me from culling her. She was careful when she went to the feeder. I watched her. She patiently waited til the feeding frenzy was over and the other chickens were resting . Then she would wobble / fall, wobble / fall over to the feeder and waterer. After quenching her thirst and eating til full, she would wobble / fall, wobble / fall back to her resting spot under the nest boxes. ~~~Look at Miss Mercy. It is difficult for her to walk, yet she is so plucky and so able. I just did not have the heart to get rid of her. Shame on me ! ~~~Then, the hens all began laying. And so did Miss Mercy ! She was so careful about her eggs. She laid an egg a day. Apparently it is ONLY her feet that are defective. I just could not do what a real farm woman should do....something about Miss Mercy touches my heart. ~~~Look at her feet. They look like they hurt. She has trouble walking. Yet..she does not seem to hurt or be in distress. ~~~I moved her into a pen with just one rooster. That is it, Miss Mercy and a rooster who is very taken with her. She has chosen a nest, a very small space between an old cage and a wall. I do not know how she wobble / falls, wobble / falls into it without hurting herself or dislodging the eggs...but she does. That touches me too. When I saw the nest I realized she is so careful and considerate about the nest and the eggs she lays. O.K. I will keep her. She is a survivor. She is a keeper. ~~~" Mercy :The act of relieving suffering, or the disposition to relieve it." " pity, or good will ."Funk and Wagnalls dictionary ~~~In this case, the mercy is in not doing what all good farm management advice states by culling undesirable or unproductive livestock. My heart says Miss Mercy is at peace with herself and happy to be alive. She will do just fine.......and look, here are 2 of her eggs ! ( below ) ~~~I had quite a problem this year with foot problems in my chicks and wing problems in my ducklings. I was going to quote a lot of information about nutrition from various poultry books and publications but I will sum up what I believe to be the real problem. Please let me re-state...I have raised chicks and ducklings for years.I purchased them from reputable breeders and suppliers I have used for years. I do not believe they sold me defective poultry. My chicks and ducklings are important to me and they did NOT lack proper bedding, warmth ,water, and provision of food.....however , I have a question or 2 about the quality of feed. ~~~I think the shortage of affordable grains, combined with fuel and production prices affected the quality of the food I bought. It cannot be a coincidence that I had trouble obtaining feed, feed was very expensive, the ducklings and chicks from 2 completely different sources showed physical problems that upon research show the classic text book symptoms of nutritional deficiencies that should NOT have occurred if the usual feed requirements were fulfilled. ~~~When I saw the problems manifested I began adding nutritional supplements to the food / water, and after a few weeks the problems began to disappear. Sometimes it is too late to reverse physical problems of dietary deficiencies, and Miss Mercy will always be handicapped, and always have a place here.