April 18, 2011

Meet Ophelia

Ophelia is one of my first six hens that I got in December 2009 as young pullets just coming into laying age. She is a black sex-linked chicken, a cross of Barred Rock/NH Red I believe.  Poor Ophelia has gone through some trials since she's been here and more than once I didn't think she was going to make it, but she matched my perseverance and pulled through.

Ophelia, Summer 2010
The first malady to hit Ophelia was an impacted crop.  I'm not positive as to what caused it, but I believe it was because I had let the girls out onto freshly cut grass that was still moist, which caused it to clump together when eaten.  It took several days of force-feeding her with a needle-less syringe, poking oil down her throat and massaging several times a day before it seemed to be cleared up.  Ophelia wasn't real happy with it all, but I think she knew I was helping, so tolerated my doctoring.

Ophelia is also my only hen that went broody.  She would tend to all the eggs she could get her beak on, even somehow scooting them over from one nest box to the other.  I had to coax her off the clutch to eat and drink at least a few times a day for two weeks or more before she finally realized her 'babies' weren't ever going to hatch and hopped away without looking back.

Bumblefoot went through my little flock and Ophelia wasn't spared there either.  It took months of medicating and chicken foot surgery to finally eradicate it, but I think all of them are completely clear of it finally.  I do not want to go through that again, so I check my girls' feet frequently.

Next up was the molt.  This wasn't an ordinary molt and I don't know what triggered it, but Ophelia lost pretty much all of her feathers and was naked down to the skin.  It was horrible to watch her losing more and more feathers and since it was December in Ohio, I couldn't leave her out there in the cold.  She stayed in the coop quite a bit, but if she got out, she didn't even have enough wing feathers to support the flapping and short hop to get back in.

I fixed the dog crate into a temporary chicken coop and brought her in the house for about 10 days.  Ophelia looked pretty rough and I thought sure she wouldn't pull through this one, but I finally started to see new growth.  She was still very skinny, but I didn't want to keep her in the house too long as I thought she might have trouble reintegrating with the rest of the flock and I was right - it was a good two months before she was fully accepted again.

She's really a nice hen and when not sick or broody, gives me a pretty brown egg almost daily.  I'm glad I didn't give up on the ol' gal - here's Ophelia today.

I'm taking the A-Z Blogging Challenge, where I will post something from each letter of the alphabet on the corresponding day in April, except for Sunday, on (hopefully) all four of my blogs. You can see my other blogs in the sidebar - More of Marie Anne.


Lyn Lomasi, LifeSuccessfully.com said...

She's so beautiful and a real fighter. So awesome of you to care for her the way you did. Sad to say, but not everyone would do that.

Stephanie V said...

I did not know that chickens could have so much disaster. Kudos to you for nursing and researching and nursing some more! She's a lovely hen...such pretty colors.

PK said...

Ophelia really did go through a lot! She looks pretty amazing today, though.

Langley said...

I'm glad you didn't give up on the old gal too. She's a tough old bird...

I’m A-Z Blogging on Langley Writes about Writing and Langley’s Rich and Random Life

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. She looks healthy again. :)

(It's not letting me sign in again.)

Lana Bandoim

SJerZGirl said...

Ophelia's quite the toughie, isn't she? I remember the bumblefoot episode.

By the way, I have an award you can pick up on my blog. You've done so much to help me. You deserve it.


Anonymous said...

I love these posts! As a city girl who wants to be a country girl, I'm really enjoying these peeks into your life.

My “O” post: http://www.word-nerd-speaks.com/2011/04/old-mother-hubbard-economic-reality.html