Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The chickens are sick

Or at least one of them is.

We noticed a couple of weeks ago that one of the chooks had stopped laying.  Either that, or the two Light Sussexes had decided to lay alternate days.  Then we noticed that Ramen was looking a bit sad and sorry for herself.  Then she stopped eating. Then more or less she stopped moving around.  We massaged her crop and fed her olive oil (she enjoyed the massage and emphatically did not enjoy the olive oil :-D ). Nothing seemed to work and we resigned ourselves to her dying.

But she hasn't died.  We haven't noticed her eating, although we put mash and tonic and chickeny good things near her.  We haven't noticed her drinking, although we put water near her.  And she must at least be drinking or she would be dead of dehydration by now.

But she can't walk very easily. There seems to be a problem with her feet.

I looked it up on the chicken forums.

I have a very uneasy feeling that it might be Marek's Disease.  If it is, then we (or more precisely, the chooks) are buggered.  It appears to be highly infectious and largely untreatable.  Although Ramen still isn't dead (or she wasn't when I left home this morning).  But Udon is now not laying. She still seems perfectly fit - but that's how it started with Ramen.  I don't think that that was what took out Katsu (although it might have been). She just seemed to fade away for no obvious reason, and we didn't notice a problem with her feet.

I fear greatly that it is Marek's Disease - which will be a real shame because this crop of hens are quite friendly and entertaining and the little legbars are beginning to show character and interest, and seem to be entirely happy pottering about with their ducky companions. I did notice that Dimsim was sleeping in the hen coop last night. Gyoza was still in with the ducks.  I have increased the chicken tonic we put in their food and will get some B vitamin compound (some of the forums think this sometimes helps). But generally there seems to be no treatment.

I might go to Pets at Home in Chesterfield at the weekend and see if the vet there knows anything about poultry.  We're not going to replace the chooks if any incoming chooks are going to be struck down as well. I believe that ducks are not susceptible - we may need to move from chickens to ducks.  Sigh ;-(

Of course, it might not be Marek's Disease. Maybe they'll spontaneously get better.  But it is not my experience of poultry that they do get better once they take poorly. A bit like guinea pigs, generally they just decide to die.

On to happier matters.  The gardens and allotment have been enjoying the unusually summery weather.  We had three or four weeks of warm, even hot, dry weather, and have now moved to a more standard summer weather pattern of warm sunshine, interspersed with heavy or thundery showers, along with some cooler, wet days. This is more or less what English summer should be. We haven't had one for three or four years before this one!!!  We have a bumper, bumper crop of fruit, the runner beans are coming along in force; we have a freezer full of peas and broad beans; the button zucchini are beginning to produce prolifically; the onions and potatoes need harvesting; the chard is growing nicely.  The tomatoes aren't yet showing signs of ripening but the plants are looking nice and healthy.  So far, we are looking good for various different types of preserved fruit and vegetables (jams, brandies, jellies, syrups and, of course, frozen produce) for the autumn and winter.

We had a Japanese vegetable curry for dinner last night, with onions, runner beans, broad beans, peas, baby potatoes and button zucchini from the garden and allotment.  And on Sunday I made a summer fruit crumble for dessert with red currant syrup, black currants, gooseberries, jostaberries and raspberries.

Eating well, we are

Summer fruit, ready for a Sunday crumble

It's a mouse in the sky (well it is if you look with imagination!)

Clouds over the garden on Sunday evening

Looking down towards the patio

Chooks and ducks - not dead yet

Still plenty of raspberries to come

Our garden

We appear to be being surveyed by a phalanx of tufted eared owls :-D

Pretty hanging basket out the front

The view from our gate

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