Sorry for the corny title...I am very tired and perhaps a little punchy this evening. Do you have chickens? We now have 10; the five from 2009, and the five young chicks which are almost fully feathered now. We are at the point where it is time to blend the young girls with the older ones, or to decide to keep two separate flocks for an indefinite period of time.
To this end, I have been trying to decide if it is a good idea to combine the flocks. In general, it is recommended to wait at least 30 days when bringing new chickens in so observations regarding their general health can be made. Our chicks have been here for 45 days, and they are very healthy.
Our older girls have always been healthy, but we do often have trouble with droppings that are more wet than not, and this results in dirty feathers on the back end. They have had this off and on since the day we first got them as baby chicks. This problem can be a sign of mites or lice, but not necessarily so. It can be a signal for the need of a dietary adjustment, or may simply be that they sit where they went.
I have no reason to believe that there are any mites or lice about, nor have we observed any on the birds or in the coop. We are getting the normal yield in eggs, and the girls seem happy enough. Since they have been this way from the very beginning to some degree, I tend to think it is just how they are. However, the new chicks are not the same in this regard, and before we do any combining of birds, we have decided to take a proactive approach.
We began today with these steps:
The above photo shows 2 cups oats, 1/2 cup millet, 1 cup yogurt, 1/2 clove of minced fresh garlic, a handful of ground up raw pumpkin seeds, and a bunch of carrot greens cut into small bits, all blended together in a bowl. We will give a similar feed to them once each day for this full week. We also put a clove of fresh garlic, cut in half, in their waterer.
They have been penned in a run for most of the winter and the ground had hardened so that they could not get much out of their usual dirt bath area. We used a garden claw today to make sure the they have plenty of soft, loose dirt in which to bathe. They took a nice, long dirt bath this afternoon. Next weekend, if the weather is warm enough, they will have water baths. They will each be dunked into a warm bucket of water with vinegar and a bit of salt mixed together, then dunked into a warm rinse water bucket, and then dried thoroughly before nightfall.
That should do the trick, and then we can make the final decision on whether to blend or not to blend...