The chickens haven't been idle since I introduced the seven newbies, so I thought I'd update on what they've been doing. Turns out that after all my research into the best breeds of chickens to keep in the cold climates as pets, a key piece of information was omitted by the chicken experts. Silkie chickens have a common defect of a hole in their skulls. This is what contributes to their cute little topnotch as part of their brains bulge out of the hole to create that look. The hole doesn't close up apparently. The problem with this is that it makes the Silkie susceptable to brain injury. I discovered this after finding Frodo, our red Silkie, in apparent seizures at about 2 weeks of age. She/he (we don't really know the gender yet but Kelsey insists it's a she) was uncontrollably dropping her head between her legs and doing somersaults. At times, she seemed so out of it, I was certain she'd die or I'd have to have her euthanized. I asked some questions on Backyardchicken.com and found out about the skull defect in the breed. We jokingly referred to her as the Flippin' Chicken. Luckily, Frodo's brain gradually healed and after a couple of weeks the somersaults stopped. However, she remains a special needs chick as we'll find her with her head in a corner, not aware of how to back up or turn around. Or she'll be under a bush by herself while the rest of the flock is in another part of the yard. Kelsey has taken Frodo under her wing, making the question of "Where's Frodo?" her summer project.
Over the past few weeks, I noticed that Thelma had been spending more time in the nesting box, sitting for hours after she'd laid her daily egg. We had to be careful reaching under her to collect eggs as she started pecking, something none of the other hens do. Then the day came when she didn't lay. I returned to Backyardchicken.com. One suggested method of curing a broody hen is to allow her to hatch a clutch of eggs and raise chicks as that's what her hormones are telling her to do. With no rooster, therefore no fertile eggs and no desire by me to add more chicks, I went to Option Two....how to break a hen of her broody behavior. There I found the following colorful suggestions posted by Rancher Hicks of Syracuse, NY:
if yu have someplace else ot move her for the night then do that. a change of venue may help. if not get a couple of good eggs and put them under her.
try the ice cube method put those under her.
take her out of the nest and slap her around a little.
put a picture of Phyliss Diller in the nest box.
if you got a teenager put her in their room, nothing cures the urge to have kids like time spent with teenagers.
ok some are better solutions than others but i'm not in a good mood. nothing serious did'nt sleep good.
bring her into the house for the night. if you've got a cat or dog that may upset her enough to throw her out of the mood. course she may not lay for awhile.