December 17, 2010

Naked Chickens in My Living Room

As mentioned a week or so ago, poor Ophelia lost all her feathers.  I manufactured a little sweater for her out of a thermal shirt, but she somehow managed to get it off in record time.  I checked on her less than two hours after putting it on her and setting her back in the coop, so it didn't last long.

Most of the flock has been staying in the coop since it's been so cold, but I leave the pop door open so they can come and go if they choose.  Ophelia has been staying as far away from the pop door as she can, and has taken up residence in one of the nest boxes.  The smaller, somewhat enclosed space retains her body heat better, and it's well packed with shavings.  The other girls will roust her out of there when they want to lay, but she pops back up in there when they're done.

Because it's so cold, I've been going out there every two hours or less to freshen their water, uncover the feeder (lots of shavings flying around in there) and check on Ophelia.  The last two days I've had to go out every hour because Ophelia has been jumping out and holing up underneath the coop and can't get back in.  She can hop up a little but without feathers, she can't fly up onto the step to get into the coop.

Under the coop has plywood around two sides and part of the front so she was somewhat sheltered from the wind, but it's still pretty darn cold out there (20s and 30s) for a naked chicken.  She doesn't walk around and peck at anything, just stands in the corner.  Earlier this afternoon I picked her up to deposit her back in the coop and while I attended to the water dish, she turned around and hopped out the door again.

I give up.

Because I'm in and out every hour of the day checking on chickens, I'm getting nothing else done.  Enough already.  Back to the house I go, with a naked chicken under my arm.  Drag out the dog crate/plant starter/chick brooder/kitten house to make a temporary home for Ophelia in the living room.

Right now I've just got a towel covering the bottom, but I'm still contemplating a better solution, perhaps the big tub the chicks were in, or maybe I can put cardboard or some old paneling around the sides of the crate.  She seems to be doing fine so far, eating and drinking and much less curious than the two dogs and two cats.

All of the hens just came off another 10-day regimen of antibiotics, but I'm not sure how much medicated water Ophelia actually consumed.  She's still got a little spot of bumblefoot on each of her feet, but it's very small and I still don't think the feather loss is related to that.  She weighs next to nothing, and if I don't see rapid change in the next 48 hours, I think I'm going to have to make a tough decision.   I can't keep a chicken in my living room, I can't leave her outside to fend for herself, and I can't spend more time checking on them 8-10 times a day.   I know she's got to be miserable (I know I am), and I can't see prolonging the inevitable.

That's the update on Ophelia.  Here she is in her new, temporary digs.

My friend Angie brings up some good points about keeping a pet chicken in the house.  I sure hope the local constable isn't going to show up at my door because I'm in violation of some ordinance.  It's only temporary, officer, I promise!


Sharon Marie said...

Poor baby! I'm crocheting a cover for my granddogs crate and maybe that would be an idea for Ophelia's crate. Actually, it's a ufo that's getting ready to be a wip pdq. Don't you just love acronyms? Reminds me of the old days in the military :).

Martie said...

Awwwww... poor chick.

Coral Levang said...

I'm sure that there are many out there in this world who would relish having a naked chick in a cage in the living room.

I guess it's all about perspective. LOL