A tough call: thoughts on not culling a chicken

From time to time good animal husbandry practice would recommend that you cull a sick animal.  I have a sick chicken and was coming to grips with that fact for a week now.

The problem?  An impacted crop.  Evidently, she had eaten something that was blocking her crop, and it had become engorged.  It was three times the normal size and…

“What did she eat?” you ask.

Who knows with chickens!  It could have been anything, a piece of plastic, some straw, a length of string or a large blade of grass, any of which can be fatal if it gets lodged at the exit of their crop.  The diagram below shows you that number 4 is the crop.  This is a pigeon’s inside view, but it is very much based on the same organs as the chicken possesses.

Photo credit HERE

You may click for greater detail or just take my word for it that it is the large organ at the base of the neck and resting at the opening of the chest cavity.  😉

In an effort to avoid further impaction which could lead to infection and death, I began a twice daily regimen of massaging my poor little barred rock‘s crop.  She didn’t like it, and squawked in protest each time.  I can’t blame her!   A couple of days during this time I felt we were making some progress, but then by Sunday she had become very weak and thin.  She had wobbly knees but was trying to eat in spite of the over-full crop.  I continued to watch her closely for signs of other sickness that would be contagious to the rest of my chickens.  While an impacted crop will not affect the others, a distressed and weakened chicken can fall ill to various pathogens in the environment. If not carefully monitored she can then spread these to the whole flock.

Monday night I went out to lock up the Chicken Palace and she was sitting low on the roost.  Her feathers were fluffed up, her head was sunken into her shoulders, and her comb had gone pale.  I expected her to be gone by morning and told Bob my suspicions.

Tuesday morning I went out to the chicken yard and tried to prepare myself to do what was necessary if she was still lingering.  I opened the door and as is always the case the girls and Grayson came bounding out looking for breakfast, and so did the little barred rock!  I watched as she drank lots of water, ate like there was no tomorrow, and nearly nosed dived each time she bent down to do so.  It was then that I noticed her comb was a bright red like is should be and her frontal profile was much reduced!

So my little Barred Rock looks awful and puny,

but she is definitely on the mend!


It was a tough call, but I’m so glad I waited before doing anything rash.

Following Protocol: chicken courtship

I’ve read that roosters, for the most part, have had the proper protocols bread right out of them when it comes to courtship.

You see, when the rooster wants to get amorous he is supposed to dance in a circle around the hen and drop one wing like a fan touching the ground.  To my mind a polite rooster looks quite a bit like a Matador.  Now, if the hen is interested, she will drop down and wait…

I am certain that Topper must feel every bit like this Matador.  Can’t you just hear him?  

Topper: “Hennies, am I not handsome and irresistible?”

This morning he gave the Little Red Hen his best Matador impersonation and instead of the expected drop, she puffed up as if in scorn, and fiercely chest butted him!

Poor Topper!

Personally, I think he is a spectacular specimen of a Laced Buff Polish Rooster, but even Tippy won’t have anything to do with him and she’s a LBP hen!

So, even with his good looks and suave demeanor, he just gets no respect out there in the chicken yard.


Polish chickens are a varied breed!  Want to see more?  Look  —> HERE!

I found a bit on the *chicken’s mating behavior (if you are really interested to know more) but it is very technical –> HERE.

*Everything else was about Prairie Chickens.

Ollie-Ollie-Alls-for-Free (or oxen free)

So this morning I go to let the geese out of the barn and there are only two in the nest!  Polly and the little girl.  Where’s that little boy gotten off too?  I search the barn calling out for him and I hear a weak little peep, peep, peep – peep, peep, peep…

I look everywhere and I can hear him faintly, but cannot see him!

Finally, I  find him.  He had escaped his corral and gotten himself wedged UP-SIDE-DOWN between the wall and a pallet laying on the ground.  His little flappy feet are kicking back and forth uselessly in time to his little peeping sounds.  I scoop him up, turn him right side up, and carry him out to fresh grass and water.

When I put him down he tries to stand, totters and falls back down.  I think he must have been upside-down for a very long while.  Poor Baby!  Those flappy feet “went to sleep without him!”  Later that day all is well and he is happily following along with Polly and the baby girl again.


“My feet went to sleep without me!”  What I used to say when very young and suffering from that nasty pins and needles feeling.

No Photo this Friday: hankies required

To say that I have a close association with my geese is an understatement.  I have loved geese since I was a little girl.


It all started when I was about seven and a half, and my Mom and Dad brought home two little bundles of peeping, gray and yellow fluff.  They told me they were baby goslings and I named them Guss-Guss and Goose-Goose.   In those days we lived in a little house in the country and all our neighbors owned farm animals of one sort or another.  Some kept cows, others goats, and of course just about everybody had chickens.  But only we had geese, and I thought I was just about the luckiest girl on my road!

Guss-Guss, Goose-Goose and I became good friends over the summer.  They followed me everywhere in our big yard.  I would play my little bamboo flute and they would waddle along behind me peeping to the tune I made.

One morning while we were out playing I noticed the Oltmans looking at me and shaking their heads.  Later that afternoon they came over to talk to my Mom and Dad.  They said, “Mr. and Mrs. Strong we’re concerned about little Lynda, because lately she’s been runnin’ around in the field talking to herself all day!”  My parents had no idea what was going on, and became worried.  They called me to come in, and when I stepped out of the tall grass, out popped Guss-Guss and Goose-Goose!  They all began to laugh at the sight of me and my baby geese.  Then Mrs. Oltman looked back at my parents and said, “We thought she was talking to an imaginary friend!”

Well, by summer’s was end the geese were all grown up, and they still wanted to follow everywhere I went.  One morning I was late for the school bus and had to walk all the way to school.   Guess who came to school with me?  Yup, it was Guss-Guss and Goose-Goose.

When I got there I wanted to share them with everybody, but the Principal told me, “Lynda you can’t have geese in school because it is against the rules.”  He told me to wait outside with my geese.   Disappointed I went over to sit on the bench while he phoned my Mom to come get them.  When Mom got there all my friends were standing around and asking me questions about them.  So I guess, in a way, I did get to share them at school!

The bell rang for class to begin and my friends took off to line up.  I silently got up and walked over to help Mom to put Guss-Guss and Goose-Goose into the back of the station wagon.  She carefully closed the back door and turned to me.  The look on her face was not hard to understand, it said…

“OK this time, but never again.”


And so it is that I now have geese again and I love them.  Even better than my chickens.  (Though I must say that  the chickens will put up with being held better than the geese.)  I have watched, and shared, the hatch of Polly’s goslings with you, and they are growing so amazingly fast!

But, as with all little creatures on a farm or Farmlet, things can and do happen.

I lost one of the ganders (boys) to my dog.  It was very upsetting, but I thought I handled it like “a grown-up.”  I mean,  he’s a dog and the little peeper got over into the dog’s side of the yard.  I could just imagine the dog’s thoughts:  “Oooh, warm fuzzy squeaky toy!”  It happens.

But what happened last night will take some time to get over.

You see, I went out to do “**Chicken-thirty”  and when I got to the barn I saw that Polly had made quite a mess in the nest.  So I turned on the light, added some straw to the nest, intending to do the job proper first thing in the morning.  Then I turned off the light and started shooing everyone back into the nest.

That’s when it happened…

Stepping back in the dark my foot landed on one of the goslings.   I thought I had killed him outright, and in retrospect it would have been kinder to us both if I had, but it was not the case.  I made him as comfortable as I could inside the house while I tried to find a vet to help me.  By the way, there are very few bird vets, and even fewer that will take on poultry.  One ‘small animal’ vet I called was mad at me because I called her during her dinner and she very frankly stated,  ” … if it isn’t a small animal then it isn’t an emergency.”


I did find a bird vet today.  It would have been a 70+ mile drive, would cost about $300 for her to look at the baby and do x-rays, with splinting and hospital time being extra.  I do not have that kind of money.

I called my local vet next and made an appointment to take the little guy in to be euthanized.   He was so kind.  He checked him over for me even though he doesn’t work on birds.  Basically, he told me what I already knew in my heart.  That there was no hope.  But he took the time to explain to me why there was no hope, and he did so with such kindness.

There are some things you just can’t do no matter how much you may want to.  I really wanted to save my little gosling!  I am so upset, but that is principally because, I know it was my own carelessness that  caused the tragedy.

Now some readers will think I am over the edge to get so upset about a baby goose.  OK, perhaps I am.   However, I believe that some of you will understand… and so I’ve shared my feelings with you, because sometimes it just feels better to let it out.

**Chicken-thirty:  My term for that time of the day when I let out and lock up the chickens and the geese each day.