Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Poopy Chicken Butt

Urban farming is deeply gratifying, but it's not always pleasant. Case in point---Crocus, pictured above, has a bad case of poopy butt.  Warning: If you gag when thinking about messy diapers, skip this blog.

Crocus is one of my hybrid "Easter Egger" chickens. She was hatched late March 2011, and began laying eggs in the fall. She's been a good egg layer throughout the winter without added light or heat. She's also rather social, and she has beautiful colored plumage.

Unfortunately, Crocus's chronically messy back end has recently become a problem. A week ago I noticed dried poop about the size of a walnut firmly stuck to her butt feathers. One morning, she presented her fanny end to me as I was cleaning out the hen house. She almost seemed to be asking for help. I checked to make sure her vent is open, and it is, which means she can defecate normally. But that wad of ick is making her uncomfortable enough that she has stopped laying her beautiful green eggs. I've tried picking that stuff off, but I'm afraid I'll hurt her or cause her to bleed, which is bad news in a flock of hen peckers.

We suspect that Crocus's problem is related to her sleep habit. Chickens instinctively roost on a perch at night. In the wild, this gives them some measure of safety from ground predators. In the hen house, it means their poop drops to the floor below them. My first flock of chickens didn't need any help learning to roost, but this group of girls has been happy to sleep on the floor. And Crocus prefers to sleep in the nest boxes, where her poop evidently sticks to her rear feathers all night. By morning, that stuff is like concrete.

Normally, I would soak her feathered fanny in some warm water to loosen the crud and clean her up, but it doesn't seem like such a great idea in sub freezing temperatures. I'll keep picking away gently and hope to provide her some relief. It's not likely that she'll learn to roost at night so the problem may continue. Bird brain. What's a farmer to do?

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