update on last month – chicken sanctuary

It has been a good but busy December at our chicken rescue sanctuary. I had 3 full weeks to spend at the sanctuary checking all our birds, doing a 6 monthly de worm, and pedicures on all the broilers with their damaged feet from poor living conditions before they got to us, and their excessive weight.  Their feet were soaked, clipped, picked, pulled, massaged, squeezed, creamed and medicated. All are more comfy, some have a better chance of being pain free than others.
this is a particularly poor condition foot. These broilers came to me 6 months ago with bumblefoot. We have euthanased many, and treated as many. We have not managed to clear the infection in any of them. Just too deeply entrenched. Their additional weight does not help either, as cutting or hurting their feet when walking is a reality. They sleep on straw at night, we limit their exposure to concrete floors, and recently we planted additional grass for them so they are always on soft ground. This girls feet are really not good, but she seems to be living a relatively pain free life. We watch them all closely for extreme discomfort or loss of quality of life.
William and hens enjoying new grass
Our dogs inspect the new grass

This fabulous little man joined us half way through December. I don’t think he is indigenous to the area of Magaliesburg (any tortoise experts tell us this), and is very bold and tame. I guess he may have been dumped in the Magaliesburg mountains. He arrived outside the kitchen one afternoon. We fed him some fresh veg, and he went off on his wayback into the veld/ bush. Same time next day he was back. This routine has continued. We have named him Ernest.


Our two Leguaans were very present around the sanctuary. This tree was sporting a whole host of very large black caterpillars with white spikes (about 10 to 12 cm long each)! This made for good leguaan food. Our chap spent much of his day hanging out in this tree.

Keeping our chicks well away from this man

Update on our mum with her two babes (see previous post on them)https://chickenrescueandrehabilitation.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/our-latest-additions-editions/”>https://chickenrescueandrehabilitation.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/our-latest-additions-editions/</a What a great mommy. She is so attentive and protective of her two fluffballs. The fluffballs now have chicken shape, not just round in shape, and are gorgeous. They started coming to take food out of my hand. Mum has been a pleasure to watch. I have loved watching how carefully and skillfully she teaches them to forage for food, protect themselves when in danger, and dustbath. The chicks are now 6 weeks old. They were 4 weeks old in this pic.

Mum and babes

Early December my sister who is a well known wildlife rehabilitator, was asked to care for these two baby orphaned vervet monkeys. They were traumatised, physically hurt, and really sad.  With lots of tlc over December, they were ready to be taken in by a surrogate mum vervet and introduced to a semi wild troop. I was privileged to be able to spend a few mornings helping feed, clean and cuddle these two beautiful babes.

sleeping helps healing
Kisses help healing too....

We had huge amounts of rain over December. Sunday the 19th saw an afternoon flash flood with hail, that had me outside pulling sedentary broilers out of tummy deep water to dry land. Late afternoon saw a massive towel dry of our very wet and miserable hens. On coming back inside my daughter showed me a bedraggled weak baby field mouse that had dragged itself in out of the rain. For two days it slept on a hot water bottle, with me doing hourly feeds using an IV gel canula attached to a syringe. I was sure this little creature was going to die. Day 3 saw me lift her out the box to feed. She attempted to bite me and rushed up my arm. Then settled down to have a good 3 ml feed sucking off the end of the canula with no assistance. This was so satisfying. We released her back into the veld 4 days after this, when I was sure she was eating and drinking on her own. We put out seed and fruit daily for another week.

Baby field mouse

Recently on our facebook page we posted this pic

Cinderella laying an egg

My communication around this pic was not great, Cinderella chooses to lay her morning egg squashed into this tiny tupperware. A few very upset chicken lovers commented that this was not a nice laying box for a chicken, and we should provide better facilities for our chicks. I had to quickly explain that we have wonderful laying boxes, but hens will do what hens will do! This pic was taken at our home where Cinderella lives permanently. Over December she came for a visit to the sanctuary, and found a new place to lay her eggs.

Cinderella laying morning egg on my daughters bed!

So, now you can see, we are not that mean to our hens!

Melody is our ‘oldest’ rescue. That means she has been at the sanctuary the longest, although may not be the oldest. Melody recently developed bumblefoot in one of her feet. I have been treating her for weeks, and really battling to make headway. After intensive work over December and opening up the pad of the foot to get pus out (which is not recommended as you open up to further infection). However I was desperate. This meant however that she had to have her foot cleaned and bandaged twice a day to keep additonal infection at bay, until the foot healed. Heal it has, and we have finally come right.

She was such a patient patient! Calmly let us work on her twice a day, and handled her bandaged foot like a pro.

Melody with bandaged foot

Of course we had our share of heart ache. Two of our broilers died. One had to be euthanased. Her heart was giving in and causing massive respiratory problems. After 3 days of watching her slowly suffocate, I could not leave her to suffer anymore. She was euthanased at the sanctuary. It was very peaceful, and I held her throughout. That was christmas eve. On christmas day, another broiler was looking very miserable. Her colour was bad, and she was very listless. I picked her up, took her inside, and decided to try a course of anti bios. She died in my arms before I could start treatment. Its always sad to have any of our birds die, butI focus on what we have done for them. Their lives have been dreadful at the hands of chicken farmers and their staff – in cramped facilities.  At the sanctuary they get to experience what it is to have freedom, an enabling environment for normal chicken behaviour and loads of love and tlc. This is what we can do for the time they are with us. RIP our beautiful girls.

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