Friday, May 2, 2014

Feathered Friday

First, let me apologize for skipping last week's Feathered Friday post.  It completely slipped my mind.  Now, on with the fun.

At one point Henny was acting a bit strange, exhibiting behaviors similar to that of egg-binding.  (Here's to hoping I never have to deal with that.)  Anyway, I consulted The Chicken Chick about it, being sure to point out that Henny also had a very messy rear end.  She advised that I first bathe Henny, and she provided me a link to her entry, How and When to Give a Chicken a Bath.  Once she was clean, I would be able to feel her to determine if there was an egg.  

It is important to note that chickens are adept at keeping themselves clean an baths should only be given in instances when it is truly needed.  Most chickens will never need a bath.  They preen their feathers using oil from a gland near their tail.  You can read about it using the link to The Chicken Chick above.

Below is our adventure in chicken bathing.  But helped me by taking most of the pictures while I bathed the hen.

I wagoned two large containers, two gallons of hot water, an apron, rubber gloves, a rubber shelf liner,  baby soap, and a hair dryer over to the barn.  I was able to use one gallon of hot water for the cleansing and one for the rinse when I added cold water from the bib outside.

I prepped the first tub with some baby soap, the rubber liner, and warm water.

Then I prepped myself.

After locking her and Boo-boo inside the coop, I captured Henny.  This is her dirty bottom.

I placed her in the tub, fully expecting a wing lashing and water splashing everywhere.

Henny, however, seemed to enjoy every part of the bath.  There was no flapping.  No squawking.  Nothing.  Just a calm hen who let me do just about anything to her as long as she could sit in the warm water.  

In fact, she was so relaxed she fell asleep.  Her face was in the corner, and I was keeping my hand over her to keep her from flapping.  When I moved my hand to reposition, she fell over.  She did let out a squawk then, out of surprise.  

While I was scrubbing her clean, I found a couple burs matted in her feathers.  No wonder the poor girl was hobbling around.

I used a mason jar to rinse the soap off of her in the second tub.

I also noticed that she had a few pin feathers in the area where her feathers had been matted with poo.  (Pin feathers are new feathers that haven't yet lost this waxy sheath.)

When it came time to dry her sopping feathers, I used a trick I learned in my years as a pet store employee and veterinary technician.  I turned her on her back to keep her calm.  (This trick doesn't always work, but usually a bird turned on it's back will relax enough to be worked with more easily.)
Clean Butt!
On her back, Henny rested calmly on my lap.

Being on her back also made it much easier to reach her wet feathers with the blowdryer.  This process is necessary when it's cooler outside.  In the heat of summer, I could've let her air dry.

Once I had her underside dry, I let her nestle in my lap so I could dry her tail. 

I felt the sides of her vent area (where the egg comes out) and found her egg free. 
All Clean and Dry!
 The next day, Henny was acting like a normal hen.  Apparently the caked poo and burrs were causing her significant discomfort, and she was acting as if she was egg-bound.  Thank goodness, she wasn't.  I have dealt with so many issues since taking over the care of these girls, I didn't want to add something else to the list.
Happy Henny the next day.
 Another good thing that came out of this experience is that Henny is a little more friendly now.  She doesn't come running to me like Boo-boo does, but she's not a fast to run away.  And she doesn't go into panic mode when I enter the coop, either.  I can give her a quick pet when I first enter, but then she get skittish.  Still, she's coming around slowly.  Maybe one day I'll be able to pet her like I can Boo-boo.

 The joys of chicken keeping.  

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