Yesterday I was phoned by a well known rescue organisation to say they had 4 hens (actually 1 is a rooster, possibly 2 of them), and a goose. Would I mind taking them. I arrived to fetch them. The chickens had food, and there was a very small amount of water which would have been fine for the chicks. The goose was a different story. Her leg was injured, there was no food for her, and the water dish was too small and shallow for her to get her bill in.
I picked her up. She was very frightened, but seemed to like being in my arms. She was de hydrated, and her mouth was dry and smelly. This was distressing.
I got them all back to my home, and immedietly gave Miss Goosey a large bowl of water and some mushy food to sift through. She immedietly drank and ate a little. Her leg was clearly very sore.
It was late aftrenoon, and I felt her leg needed to be looked at sooner rather than later. I took her to mysister, a well known wildlife rehabilitator and bird expert.
Her leg was not dislocated or broken, but very painful, and it seems a recent injury. Probably through mishandling in capture and transportation earlier that day to welfare organisation. Miss Goosey was very relaxed with us, and very tired. We settled her on a towel on the floor with food and water for examination. She talked to us constantly.
My sister then suggested a warmish bath for Miss Goosey.
1. to help with rehydration
2. to relax her and warm her up
3. to allow her to get weight off sore leg
4. warmth of water to ease leg discomfort and bring down inflammation
5. to give her opportunity to clean up and boost spirits after hectic day
Nursing animals in the prescence of my sister with her compassion and vast experince is such a pleasure, and such an amazing growth opportunity. It was exactly what Miss Goosey needed. She stayed in for a good half hour preening, relaxing, getting water on her feathers, talking constantly, playing.
Her leg was defnitely a little less sore post bath, but she was tired.
We made a doughnut of towels for her to keep weight off leg, and she went to sleep. This is very valuable nursing for water birds.
I started getting sad and angry later in the evening. This was clearly a loved pet, handed over to a welfare organisation for care for whatever reason. In one day this organisation (who does do good work), managed to hurt her leg, dehydrate her, and deny her food. It would have taken one minute to fill a tub with water for her, and put some dog food mixed with warm water down for her. To handle her a little less roughly. It was not necessary for Miss Goosey to have such an unpleasant experience.
We now go about finding a good free range home for her with some other geese.
The 4 chickens are doing well, although the one has a big wound on neck – it looks quite grim, and seems to have some sort of fungus around it. A trip to our vet seems like the best option!
Allowing hens to hatch eggs has not been a sanctuary policy. Our system is overloaded with hens and roosters needing a safe haven, so why bring more chicks into this world? EXCEPT, that 2 of our hens have challenged us on this point by sitting on eggs, despite us removing them for long periods to the detriment of their health. We undertake to give our chickens a safe place to live as natural and normal a life as possible until their natural end. Eventually we allowed them to hatch 2 chicks each – November last year, and March this year. This has made them proud mums, and very happy. Maybe this is just something we are going to have to allow once in a while, for those that really want to be mums. Most of our chicks don’t seem to have that urge.
Princess Jet, fetched from NSPCA 2 weeks ago after being abandoned on a property by tenants, has joined the sanctuary. Our little man featured here, Bolero, came to us last year, after being confiscated by SPCA from a petting zoo.
Bolero is a real lover, and gently woos our hens with worms that he digs up for them, bits of food, and general gentle behaviour. He has 4 firm followers and through his dedicated caring has created sustainable relationships. This is in stark comparison to our other rooster, William, who works on the take by force method of seduction, and is often rejected or attacked by our fed up hens. William then stands bewildered, wondering what went wrong. Bolero took one look at Princess Jet and started his particular brand of seduction. By end of day they were inseparable.
Having mentioned William, he has actually found a little love, from Hope. William came to us last year through NSPCA. He had been locked in a garage for months, and had food and water, but little sunlight and space, and alone. He rules the roost out at the sanctuary, and although makes our hens very cross, does protect them when he feels they are threatened (by anyone else other than him!). Hope has been at the sanctuary a month. She came from Holomisa township, ex battery, ready for informal slaughter, with another hen we have named Joy.
Hope and William seem to be spending a lot of time together. Here I caught Hope gently cleaning Williams face, while he relaxed on the driveway.
We welcome Ralf, Mark, Prude and Trude. A year ago, we were approached by a guy who wanted to give us a rooster who was disturbing neighbours, and get a rescue hen from us to keep little Trude company. We rescued Prude for him. Prude and Trude have been with this guy for a year, and surrogated two chicks last October – Mark and Ralf. Sadly this guys situation has changed,and he cannot keep the chicks anymore, so he asked if they could live at sanctuary. Over weekend, he brought the chicks around to settle them in.
The last time I saw Prude she had no feathers, and was in a poor way. She is now healthy and gorgeous after her year of a good home. Nice to get some healthy, well loved chicks into the sanctuary. Here the 4 are enjoying some rockery time!
Sadly, we said goodbye to 2 of our broilers this weekend. Their quality of life was no longer good. We now have 10 left of the 40 rescued June 2010. They were such a compromised bunch, and we have had to really watch them carefully to make sure they are not suffering. Many have died of heart attacks – bodies too fat and compromised. many we have had to euthanase. But all 40 got some quality of life, and died knowing what it was to be free and loved. That is our aim. RIP lovely girls.
The True story Of Peep Peep: I found her egg the last one deserted in the grass. It hadn’t hatched with the others in time. The mother had many chicks to tend to & had to leave it behind. The egg was covered with ants & had only a tiny peep hole where she was peeping through it still alive. Desperate, I brushed the ants off bringing her egg in and turned to the internet for help. I didn’t know anything about ‘birthing no babies’ (chicks or otherwise).
I held her egg gently in my hand occasionally turning it while it was wrapped inside a damp, warm, wash cloth. It got very tiring for both of us, I recalled the story ‘Horton Lays A egg’. She was very large, couldn’t turn in her egg anymore and seemed to be trapped. The very tiny pieces I managed to peel off through the hours showed her veins exposed on the outside surface of the skin. This indicated she wasn’t quite ready or she would bleed to death. We had to be patient and let time do its work. I fed her with a sm dropper – 1 tiny drop of water now and then into her exposed beak which she’d swallow to give her strength. She talked to me the whole time.
After 12 hours the veins grew into the skin and normalized. I managed to get enough of the shell off, taking it off in tiny bits as it was warm, moist and soft. She was still attached to the yolk through her umbilical cord getting her colostrum that would provide her hours of newborn strength. After that dissipated and was used up I gently cut the cord with a sterile tiny scissors and she lay back on her blankets and rested (we both did). A few hours later, she was fluffed and peeping awake! A healthy baby chick! We had bonded and I said a grateful prayer.
Later I attempted to re introduce her to her real chicken mother who let out a surprised cackle of pleasure when she recognized her chick. She walked off with her brood turning and calling her lost baby to follow them. I sadly steeped back to let her go. ‘Peep Peep’ turned instead and ran after me peeping her head off as if to say ‘Mama! Wait up!’. And that’s how I became a chicken mother. And I couldn’t be prouder of her or love her more if I had laid her myself!
She’s the boss of the household. My cats are a bit afraid of her. She’s a strong disciplinarian!
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 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.
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.
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.
Recently on our facebook page we posted this pic
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.
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.
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.
This is our lovely Cinderella laying her morning egg in this teeny tiny tupperware. Our spacious comfy laying boxes don’t cut it!
Note Cinderella’s very damaged beak. This is from having a portion of her beak seared off with a burning hot blade at 2 days old. No anaesthetic. This is standard procedure for battery hens to stop them cannibalising each other in their crowded small cages for the next year of their sad lives. A cruel practice to combat more cruelty.
Cinderella has this gorgeous gravelly voice. Sadly this is the case, as she cannot close her beak at all. Cinderella has been so badly mutilated that her sinus structure was damaged, causing repeated sinus and eye infections as a chick. Luckily she seems to be coping now. Stop eating eggs!
We do not let our chooks breed, as there is an overwhelming strain on already overloaded system. However, this broody hen at the sanctuary hid her nest and eggs, until it was too late for me to risk taking eggs away. The result was these two cuties! In the photos they are a week old.
Last Friday I was due to leave for Cape Town early in the morning. Galhinia clearly not well. Family went ahead to CT and I stayed behind to get her to a vet. She was put on a course of anti bios. I was reticent to leave, however my wonderful sister who is an animal rehabilitator agreed to nurse her for the weekend, and knowing that she was in such good hands I was able to go. I was aware that it may have been the last time I saw her, but also felt hopeful that the anti bios would kick in, and I would be fetching her to go home at the end of the weekend. I remember every detail of me leaving, I made sure I had a lasting pic of her in my head.
I got updates all day Friday. She was sleeping, eating a little, drinking and getting loads of cuddles.
Early Saturday morning Galhinia;s body temp started dropping. My sister wrapped her in a towel and hot water bottle and went to sit in the garden under a tree with a magnificent view of Jozi. It took about 5 minutes and Galhinia died in her arms. It was peaceful, and quick from Friday morning to Saturday Morning.
I miss her so much already. She had left a huge hole in my day, but has also made space for another rescue chook who needs some TLC and the opportunity to be a free hen. I focus on what I can do, and not what I cannot. Galhinia must have been just over 2 1/2 years, which is not bad for an ex battery hen, who suffered so much abuse. I know that in every interaction with her throughout our 15 months together, I was absolutely present in every interaction with her. The memories of her smell, the feeling of her plucked body, and then feathered body against my face such a strong memory. She brought such joy to our lives.