Disturbing development!

I want to warn you – the next picture is graphic and more than just a little disturbing. It’s actually pretty horrible, but I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it – and am amazed at how quickly everything went from being just fine to simply horrifying.

Our seven little Welsumer chicks are now 4 1/2 weeks old. We’re pretty certain that there are six pullets and one cockerel – it’s obvious who has the more pronounced comb, quickly developing wattles, as well as definitive male behavior. Funny how these chicks have remained nameless thus far – I think we’re all becoming more accustomed to the fact that they are – indeed – livestock. Yes, there are some that are more bonded to us and much more pet-like, but for the most part, the majority are indeed livestock.

Our routine of late – particularly with the dramatic increase in the temperature the past few days – over 100 degrees at our house yesterday! – has been to allow the big girls (now 15 weeks old) and the middle chicks (possibly as many as four of them are roos! – and are now 9 weeks old) out of the coop to free range. We then move the Welsumer babies into the 4′ x 16′ run to get some “outside” time in a more controlled environment. It’s been working out very nicely.

We did have one of the Welsumer chicks who seemed to be – well, for want of a better word – a runt. At one point in time we found that she was really getting picked on by the others, and went so far as to separate her out from the others for a little while. She seemed to have a slightly swollen foot, and after the separation it quickly resolved and she went back to her pals. She reintegrated nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’d lost track of which chick exactly she was as she seemed to be catching up with the others – and they’ve all been feathering out so nicely in the past week or so.

Sundays are busy days for us. We checked on the chicks before heading out to church. Everyone was doing great upon our return. John and I headed out to Costco for about an hour this afternoon, and upon our return Jess informed me I’d better come check one of the chicks right away – something was very wrong – it seemed to be bleeding. I quickly went out to the run and quickly ascertained that, yes, our runt, was more than being picked on – she was being brutalized. The picture below is what we found – brace yourself:

They literally tore her apart. You could see completely into the cavity of her body and she was obviously failing rapidly. How could everything go so wrong in 60 minutes? What was the catalyst? She’d been busy, active, involved with the other chicks when we’d left. They had food, water, lots of space. There was no boredom going on here.

We’ve watched these babies closely – they’re beautiful and fun. They’ve been very different from the other chicks. They were actually hatched under a Mama hen – their behaviors are so distinct as a result! They’ve been so interesting to watch. How could this have happened in just an hour away from them?

Our kids are pretty deeply disturbed. They were so sad to watch as this sweet little chick died. Well, so were the adults! We disposed of her body carefully, and set out on a mission to try and determine the big WHY?! Frankly, we found nothing to be a catalyst. We did pick up her tail feathers and the little bits of her that were left in the run.

I find myself feeling even more than normal paranoid Mom thoughts… Will they do this again? Can I leave them alone – at all? How can I *not* leave them alone? They’re in a lovely coop with everything they could need – lots of elbow room. Do I go and check on them though the night to make sure they don’t find another victim from amongst themselves? *shudder*

On to happier thoughts… although it will be some time before I am able to dismiss the above event from my mind!

Our warm weather has worked wonders for our beans. The row against the wall are the pole beans. John will build the trellis for them on the coming weekend. The two front rows are bush beans. I’m so pleased this many of them have survived the chicken mauling! I am a little disgusted, however, at the mole that came up right in the front row of bush beans – the stinker!

Here is one of our – what seem to be – many roos. Comparing him to the other California Whites – he’s obviously male! He is lovely, and sweet tempered – and definitely on the bottom of the roo pecking order. He will occasionally have a stare down with the other (Dominique) roos, but always backs down and walks away. Interestingly enough, he was one of the roos that took Speedy under a protective wing when she was reintegrated with the flock.
Isn’t he handsome?
I will try and get some pictures of the other roos in the coming week. It’s been astounding to see how quickly the middle girls (and boys) are not just catching up to the big girls – but some of the Dominique roos are even MORE than catching up in size!

Earlier in the week – much eariler in the week (like nearly a week ago!) we heard the strangest noise. We were all out in the yard – I was working on the garden the kids were hanging out in the hammock and playing cards. We all looked up and at each other and couldn’t figure out what it was – then – simultaneously – we all noticed one of the Dominique roos let forth with a very pubescent sounding crow. Oh my! And he’s not the only one – it seems all of the then 8 week olds were learning the crowing ropes.

At first we thought – well, it will be ages before they get past their changing voices and figure out how to crow with the dawn.

WRONG.

This morning one of them – hard telling which one – right at 5:30 a.m. let out with a fairly polished crow. Nothing like the likes that Harlan used to belt out – but I’m thinking the junior roos took notes while Harlan was visiting!

Oh my!

Gosh, we need to move! We need a home with a couple of acres and plenty of room for roosters to be roosters and not get in trouble for it! We’ll see how things progress… I’m sending up lots of prayers – trying hard not to nag God, just tell Him what my heart is feeling!

Okay – still sad. It’s gonna take a while to get over the chick incident. 😦

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3 thoughts on “Disturbing development!

  1. Oh, that’s heartbreaking…please keep us posted when you figure out why it happened! So so sorry!
    Your garden looks great 🙂

  2. Oh, good golly, Dina…that is absolutely horrific. What in the world? Maybe the heat was a stresser for the birds? How truly bizarre. You may never find out what the impetus was for this, though, and doubtful that you could have done anything to prevent it. Such is nature…you simply can’t control it.
    I’m so sorry. This is very sad and, I’m sure, nerve wracking for you. 😦

    Regarding all your roos beginning to crow….all I can say is…get ready for the airhorn!

    Um, by the way, our crower, Roopert, is driving my husband crazy w/his 5:15am crowing. For the past few nights, I put Roop into a big dog carrier in our lower garage after dusk, where he gets to hang, and Jim gets to sleep, until about 8:00am the next morning. Just a thought for you, if you want to keep your roosters but hopefully prevent that angry neighbor from returning.

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