Tillys Nest


Reasons for Missing Feathers on Backyard Chickens

Missing feathers on the backside of this chicken 

Feather loss and missing feathers happens within every flock at one point or another.  Suddenly, one day you happen to notice that one or more of your chickens are missing some feathers. Missing feathers should always cause you to do a bit of detective work.  There are reasons for missing feathers.  Some reasons are obvious, while others require you search a little deeper into the underlying cause of the missing feathers. 

Feathers can go missing anywhere on a chicken's body. However, sometimes the location as to where they are missing can provide you with clues. Sometimes missing feathers occur during the normal process of molting.  Molting can take up to several months to complete and typically occurs in flocks at least one year of age.  It can also be triggered by stress. During their annual molt, typically in the fall, chickens systematically lose their feathers, starting at the head and moving down the body from neck, then chest, back, wings, and finally their backsides and their tails. Some chickens have heavier molts than others and their degree of molting can vary from year to year.  The Silkies in our flock rarely show any evidence of molting other than a few feathers here and there strewn throughout the run and coop. On the other hand, Oyster Cracker is one of those chickens that seems to drop all of her feathers overnight- leaving her bald and mangy looking for months.

Location of missing feathers and possible causes 

Head- others chickens pecking, other hens asserting dominance, molting, lice

Chest-broody hen, molting

Butt- can appear beefy red-molting, vent gleet, mites, lice, feather pecking by self or others

Area immediately around vent-worms, mites, lice, egg bound, pecking by self or others

Random bald spots-feather pecking by self or others, mites, lice, bullies

Back near wings and back of neck-rooster's damage from mating/over-mating

 

Reasons for picking at feathers 

Protein deficiency- Feathers and eggs are predominantly protein. Adult chickens require diets between 15-17% protein depending on which chicken resource you rely upon.  They should all be on layer feed after approximately 20 weeks of age.  Sometimes, in our good intentions of sharing kitchen scraps, fruits and vegetables, chickens can become deficient in protein.  Therefore, they will seek another source to make up for this deficiency, even if this includes eating feathers.

Boredom-Chickens can become bored, especially in the winter. It is very important to provide your chickens with the proper amount of spacing per bird.  In flocks that are not allowed to free-range, it is suggested that each standard size chicken has approximately 10 square feet of space.  Bantams of course require less.  It is also important to provide them with distractions to keep them happy and occupied during these times when the grass outside is not always greener.

Mites/Fleas-Sometimes missing feathers are the only signs of mites.  Mites are incredibly elusive.  They like to hide in the nooks and crannies of the coop and come out and feed on the chickens under the cover of darkness.  They suck the chicken's blood and in the morning, return to their hiding place.  It is not uncommon for chicken keepers only to find them on their hens after they investigate with a flashlight in the evening. Mites that crawl and move across the chicken's skin are not only irritating, but also cause itching and pain after a while.  This annoyance can lead to chickens pecking at these sensitive spots.

Lice- Like mites, lice can be just as annoying for the same reasons; however, they love to congregate at the base of the feathers where the feathers meet the skin.  They can cause itching and a burning sensations. Lice love to hang out best near the vent, under the wings and on the head.  They will not leave their host. Instead they rapidly multiply leaving your chicken defenseless, except for feather pecking.

Bully hen/pecking order- Yes, even in the world of chickens there are bullies.  Our Dottie Speckles was one such bully.  Despite our best efforts, she was insistent upon hurting Tilly.  By the light of the moon, she took great pleasure at plucking feathers from Tilly as she slept.  Poor Tilly, she became so miserable that we had to eventually re-home Dottie Speckles.  In the meanwhile, Dottie Speckles had taught her bad habit to a few of the good hens. Taking Dottie Speckles away, allowed the girls to forget about pecking at one another and how much better it is to keep a harmonious existence.  It took me months to figure out that this is what was happening to Tilly.

Chickens Instinctively Peck-Chickens most always peck first at things that catch their eye.  They peck at shiny things such as buttons, earrings and painted toenails.  They peck at bugs, slugs and small moving flies.  Their curiosity is expressed via pecking.  There are a few things that you must remember.  Chickens love the color red.  Chickens love to peck at red things including blood.  Chickens can become cannibals if left to their own devices.

Vent Gleet-Vent gleet is also known as a fungal infection of the gastrointestinal tract.  It can lead to feather loss around the vent and the entire backside of your chickens. It is most commonly seen in hens. You can read more about it here.

Worms-If the worm infestation is serious enough in your flock the chickens will find the worms irritating to the vent area.  Thus, your chickens will peck at their vents to try and address the irritation and also perhaps at other affected chickens' vents too, especially if they notice the worms. Read more about the types of worms that affect chickens here and how to treat for them. Any veterinarian can check your chickens' poop for evidence of worms even if they don't treat chickens.

  

Why are feathers not returning? 

Quills in the Skin- Feathers begin to emerge from the skin as pin feathers.  They are pointy shafts of protein. As they grow longer, the chicken takes off the sheath and the feather unfurls.  In the center of the feather is the quill where blood supply exists.  Thus sometimes, broken feathers will bleed.  Also, sometimes when feathers are broken or pecked the tip of the feather remains in the skin.  To our eyes, we do not see any feathers, only bare spots.  However, since that tip is still in the skin the chicken's body still believes that there is a feather present.  It is not until the chicken molts, that you will see a new feathers grow into the existing bare spot.

Repetitive Pecking-As the new feathers grow in, they too are irresistible to the chickens' pecking.  Pin feathers are especially tempting.  Also, the color red of the irritated skin, especially on their bottoms, lends to pecking.  Sometimes, chickens lower in the pecking order bear the brunt of the pecking.

 

Helping Feathers Return 

Protein snacks/Supplements-Snacks and treats should always be shared in moderation.  Too many treats can lead to health problems such as fatty liver.  Meal worms and sunflower seeds are good choices.  There are also supplements that can be temporarily added to your chickens' food such as Poultry Conditioner and Calf Manna that help too.

Access to dust bathing/ dry run-Dust bathing naturally helps chickens to clean their feathers and helps to eradicate poultry lice and mites.  It is important that your chickens always have a place in their run outside to dust bathe that stays dry from the elements.

Layer pellets-Verify that you are feeding your adult flock layer pellets.  Even full time free-ranging birds should always have access to layer pellets if they so desire.  A proper diet leads to proper functioning of their bodies.

Hygiene-Clean coop/roost/nesting boxes-This is probably the number one reason for issues that arise in backyard chicken keeping.  I can never stress enough how important it is to keep your chickens' living space clean.   Here is how we keep our coop clean.

Blu-Kote/Vetericyn- Both of these products are great to have in your chicken first aid kit. Blu-Kote is great for spraying on closed wounds only. (It can sting.)  It tints everything a bluish purple color.  Changing the color alone sometimes helps to deter chickens away from those tempting areas.  Be sure to wear gloves when applying.  It stains everything. Vetericyn is wonderful for applying to open wounds.  It is effective against bacteria, viruses and fungus and helps to promote wound healing.

Separate living area near flock- Sometimes the chicken that is missing their feathers and continually pecked upon needs to be removed from the flock until the feathers return.  Do not be tempted to return this chicken to the flock until the feathers have completely grown in and appear normal.  Here is how we have created a separate safe place for an injured chicken that would work nicely in this case as well.

Hen saddle/saver- Aprons that can be applied to the back of a chicken are an easy way to keep chickens within their flock while covering their bare backs and allowing the feathers to return.  These are great for over-mated hens and broody hens.  Just be sure to check regularly under the apron for lice and mites.  If left un-checked they can take advantage of the apron too.

Boredom busters-Keep your cooped up chickens busy.  Distraction is the key sometimes.  Try supervised free-ranging, a cabbage pinata, treat ball, chicken ball, or a flock block.

Rooster and over-mating- A flock should have at least 7 hens to one rooster.  This helps to keep certain hens from being over-mated by him and allows them to escape his constant attention.  If you have more roosters, they each will need a group of hens to keep everyone happy.

In most cases, there are identifiable reasons why chickens are missing their feathers.  Sometimes it is straight forward and other times, it may not be as obvious. In fact, like with Dottie Speckles, it took me months to finally find the culprit and figure out the solution, even though I spend a great deal of time with the flock each day.  Hens sometimes behave differently when we are around.  Keep that in mind, when you set off on your detective work and most of all do not get discouraged.  It might just be a situation where you have to wait until the next year's molt.

Free-Ranging Solution Against Predators for Backyard Chickens

The chickens free ranging in the garden 

Other than a good dust bath, there is no other place that a chicken would rather be than free-ranging about their environment.   Chickens love to scratch in the dirt. They love to discover bugs, worms and tasty grubs as they explore their surroundings. However, most folks never free-range due to the risk of predators.  Those that allow their chickens to roam freely on their property accept and understand the risk of losing members of their flock from time to time.  This was not an option for me nor was it a risk that I felt comfortable with. One of the best solutions that I came up with three years ago was supervised free ranging.  Supervised free-ranging allows your flock to be out and about in the yard as your presence keeps predators away.

Some Benefits of Free Ranging 

Better tasting eggs

Eggs with more nutritional value

Healthier, happier Hens

Toenail sharpening

Exercise

Prevention of bad habits such as feather picking

Prevention of boredom

Decrease in the amount of feed your flock consumes

Garden benefits include pest control, soil aeration, composting and weeding

Potential Daytime Predators of Free-Ranging Flocks 

Coyotes

Fox

Hawks/Birds of Prey

Snakes

Bears

Dogs

Feral Cats

Cars

Humans

How To Supervise Free-Ranging 

1. The best hours for supervised free ranging are just prior to dusk.  This way, the chickens should automatically return to their coop/run as the daylight fades. Trust me, you never want to chase a chicken. Also, day time predators are returning home for their evening rest and the nocturnal predators are just beginning to awaken.  This is a transition time for them.

2. With a new flock, do not free-range until they have become acclimated to their coop and surroundings.

3.  Leave the door to the run open during free-ranging.  Some chickens will prefer to stay in the coop and run area. My littlest Silkie, Fifi, who is at the bottom of the pecking order, never free-ranges. Instead, she likes to have the "run of the house" while the others are out. Others will return to lay their eggs or take a sip of water.  It also allows the chickens access to their coop and run as they return home from free-ranging for the evening.

4. Train your chickens to know that you are in charge. Interestingly, the flock will free-range close to the head hen or rooster.  Either one will lead the flock to where they free-range.  Some breeds like to free-range farther from the coop while other breeds, like the Australorp, tend to stay close to home.

5.  Learn how to do the "alert/warning" flock call.  It sounds like a low rolling growl.  I do this if I see any predators near, such as hawks.  The chickens will respond to your alert.

6.  Never stray far from your free-ranging flock.  Remember, you are their protector.  Your job is to continually survey the skies and land for any potential danger. Leaving your flock even for a few minutes can make them vulnerable.

7.  Keep some treats in your pocket. This is a very useful tool in training chickens to avoid certain areas of the yard, have them follow you and lure them back into the safety of their coop and run.

8.  Remember to do a head count after everyone has returned in from free-ranging before you lock up the coop.

9.  Develop a free-ranging habit/pattern and your flock will become accustomed to the routine.  For example, my girls always free range while I clean the coop.  They are also used to free-ranging in the gardens when I am working in the yard. I lure them to the area where I am working with a tiny bit of scratch and treats.

10.  Check the foot pads of your free-ranging chickens regularly for any injuries such as bumblefoot.

The way you chose to manage your flock is a personal decision. There are many ways to raise chickens.  I am proud to say that there is a compromise when it comes to free-ranging.  Supervising free-ranging does minimize the risk of harm coming to your flock.  I am happy to share that many of those folks who were initially against free-ranging have tried my techniques and they too have become not only believers but advocates of supervised free-ranging.

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Feeding your Honey Bees in the Winter with a Candy Board

Honeybees work.  They work all spring and summer to store up enough pollen and honey for their colony to survive the winter.  However, sometimes, their best efforts are not enough and they can end up starving to death if their supplies run out.  As you have read, in the early spring and late fall when the nectar and pollen supplies are low, we feed our honey bees sugar syrup as a supplement.  They can take this honey syrup or leave it.  The choice is up to them and it provides them with access to extra food if need be.  However, sugar syrup and freezing temperatures do not agree, thus those keeping bees in colder climates must feed their bees another way.

I have researched this very topic quite a bit.  The good news is that there are options.  You can make fondant that sits on top of the frames, that they bees can eat as needed.  You can use the Mountain Camp Method with some sugar poured directly on newspaper, or you can create a candy board.  To me the choice is clear.  The candy board once made requires little maintenance   It is easy to refill.  It can hold up to 15 pounds of sugar.  The sugar itself, helps to absorb moisture and humidity from the hive.  It is accessible to the bees from all the frames in the upper deep.  It does not require the beekeeper to open the hives frequently to check and replenish the food.

I set out on my journey.  I am lucky enough to have wonderful friend whose boyfriend made two frames just for me.  They are the 2" high and the width and length of the hive's body . Think spacer-beekeeping friends. Drill a 5/8" hole into the center of one of the shorter sides.  Then I spray painted them and allowed them to dry overnight.

Next, I added hardware cloth to the bottom.   Wear long sleeves and work gloves.  It can take a real good bite out of you! 

 The candy board frame is fitted with hardware cloth 

Place these flat onto a piece of plastic or as in my case the children's art mat.

Line the bottom with one layer of black and white newspaper, or in my case, I used some plain packing paper. (newspaper without any print.)

Next I cut an easy access entry hole in the bottom of the paper lining near the outside access hole.  This would serve as a pathway for the bees to easily gain access instead of having to chew through the paper.

 A square access hole is cut into the paper lining the candy board 

I placed a small square plastic container right side up to keep the integrity of this hole.

It was time to mix the sugar and the water together.  In a very large cooking pot, I mixed by hand two cups of water to 10 pounds of sugar.  Once combined, it will appear clumpy.  Dump that into one of your candy boards. You can also add a pollen patty into the bottom of the candy board as well prior to dumping out the sugar.

 The water and sugar mixture is ready to be spread in the candy board 

Smooth it out using the spoon and then transitioning to your hands.  The candy board can accommodate 15 pounds of sugar for areas colder than Zone 6.  15 pounds of sugar will combine with 3 cups of water. If using 15 pounds of sugar, to ensure uniform sugar placement flush with the inner cover, try using a small piece of lumber or a ruler to smooth the top flat.

 The sugar in the candy board  is level and smoothed out now waiting to dry 

I set the candy boards aside to dry.  Inside during winter weather, they should dry within 24 hours to a very hard consistency.  Once dry, remove the plastic container.

Place the finished candy board between the upper most deep and the inner cover.  This emergency food source should last the bees through the entire winter.  I will be placing these on the hives tomorrow and will probably not take a peek at the hives again until February.  My fingers are crossed that the bees survive the winter. It is entirely up to the strength of the colony now.

Some benefits to using a candy board 

1. Less frequent entry into the hive by you.

2. Less exposure of the bees to temperatures outside the hive as you open to replenish their stores.

3. The candy board's sugar will help to absorb excess moisture inside the hive, helping to keep humidity low.

4. The entry/exit hole in the side of the candy board will allow excess moisture to escape the hive.

5. Ease of use. Less mess.

 

A huge thanks to www.beverlybees.com  for sharing the candy board technique with her readers, including me, on her wonderful beekeeping blog.  To read more about my first year beekeeping adventures from the beginning, click here. 

Minestrone Soup with A Twist

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken stock

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 can white Cannellini beans

1 cup dried cheese tortellini

1 tbsp. dried basil

1 tbsp. dried parsley

2 medium zucchini cut into bite size pieces

1 cup diced carrots

2 stalk celery- cut into bite size pieces

1 medium diced onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/4 Parmesan cheese-the type in the can.

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup green beans

Preparation: 

In a large soup pot, over medium heat, sauté the garlic, onions, celery, carrots, basil and parsley in the olive oil.  Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, zucchini and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Next add the beans, tortellini, green beans, Parmesan cheese and simmer for 20 more minutes on low.

Ladle into bowls while piping hot and serve with crusty French bread. 

Home as Defined by Chickens

My free ranging flock

Like many of us, chicken have a strong sense of home.  At night, they get in the habit of returning to the safety of their coop after a long day of scratching and seeking out delicious morsels.  As the daylight turns to dusk, they call out for flock members who are late; distracted by a bug, a snake, a tasty frog or a hidden nest of eggs.  Every night without fail, Tilly pops out of the coop for one last head count.  Even though her and Dolly don't see eye to eye, she still checks to make sure that everyone has turned in for the night.

They have sleeping arrangement preferences.  Somehow, they have to agree with who they get to snuggle up with in the evening.  We've had some pretty strange arrangements around here.  The chickens must find them comfortable!  I've long lost the battle of Silkies sleeping in nesting boxes.  I think they must be a brood that not only tends to be broody, but prefers to sleep on the ground.  Who am I to tell a chicken breed that has been around since the days of Marco Polo and the 13th century, where they should sleep?

I can't forget the pecking order as well.  In our own families, there is always someone in control.  I like to think its the parents.  In chicken families, the pecking order helps to determine everyone's position and role.  Tilly is the head hen.  She rules the roost. Oyster Cracker is our resident love bug and greeter.  She is very social and does not fear much.  Sunshine is our guardian.  She watches the skies all day long and is quick to sound the alarm when threats are near.  Her deep voice is just perfect for the job.  The Silkies take mothering very seriously.  Their broody tendencies are amazing. They all get along and seem to have their own little pecking order within the larger order.  The pecking order, establishes their family.

In every family, there are times when we get along.  There are times when we disagree and there are times when we are apart.  There are times when we wish that we weren't in certain situations.  The best part, is that we know we always have our families, through blood or friendship, that help us to persevere, survive, believe in ourselves and most importantly fill our hearts with love.  The same goes for chickens.  They are very smart.  You can learn many life's lessons from pulling up a chair near the flock, sitting quietly and taking a glimpse into the lives of chickens.

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Preparing the Beehives for Winter

This week I took the honey supers (honey collectors) off of the last hive. Three weeks ago these two supers were half-full of uncapped honey. As I removed the supers, they were barren of honey. The bees must have moved it or consumed it during the last few colder days. Click here for parts of the hive.

I've enjoyed watching the hives as the cooler temperatures arrived. The summer bees began to die off. Tiny piles of bees were collecting outside the hive. The queen has switched gears and begun to lay winter bees-hardier bees that have a longer lifespan designed especially for surviving the winter.

The drones, the male bees, were also evicted from the hive. With mouths too small to eat for themselves, they are dependent on the female worker bees for feeding. In the winter, they are not necessary for survival. Male drones never mate with their own queen and mating with outside queens will not resume until spring. One by one the worker bees carry the drones away from the hive, abandoning them in the wood chips. Other drones buzz by my head, frantic to enter the hive. Yet they are turned away by the female guard bees. They are desperate and confused. My heart goes out to them. The drones are defenseless. With no stingers, they are at the will of the female colony. The drones will all be eliminated from the colony before the first frost. Come spring, the queen will begin to lay drones again. For now, the colony will only consist of females.

In both hives, the deeps are chock full of honey and pollen. The bees have been busy storing. They will need 60 to 80 pounds of honey to survive winter on Cape Cod. I did decide to feed them a  2:1 sugar syrup to help bolster their food supply. Once the weather reaches 57 degrees, they will begin to go into their tightly formed ball of bees called a cluster.

Breaking from the cluster will only occur at 40 degrees or higher. During this time the bees will slowly move to more food sources within the hive and also take a moment to go on cleansing flights. Bees will not evacuate their digestive tract in the hive. When in cluster, the queen stays in the warm and toasty 95 degree center as the other bees take turns on the outside of the cluster.

I will be making a candy board for the bees to place on the top of the hive as back-up feeding in case they exhaust their stored resources for the rest of the winter. I also inserted hardware cloth mouse guards into the bottom entrances. So for now, they are essentially tucked in with not much more for me to do but wish them well as we head into the colder weather and season of winter.

I consider my first year with the bees a huge success. In both hives, their numbers are plenty. They have built out their hives and filled them with what they need to survive the winter. They also managed to build out 30 wax foundations in the honey supers.  This will be a great head start when the nectar begins to flow in the spring.

Taking A Vacation-Who Watches the Flock?

There comes a time in every backyard chicken keeper's life when you will take a vacation.  It might be just overnight or it might be for a week or longer.  Whatever the length, it can provoke some anxiety.  The first time I left my chickens with the chicken sitter, they were about six months of age.  My heart felt like a parent leaving a child home with the babysitter for the first time. Of course I worried.  Would they be well cared for?  Would they remember to harvest the eggs?  Would predators know we were not home?  What if one became ill?  With some thought, planning and preparation, your flock should do just fine. Most people will want to watch your chickens for the eggs alone.  As you know, there is nothing like a freshly laid egg.

Your chicken sitter should:

Live Nearby

Enjoy backyard chickens

Be Responsible

Chicken sitting for a flock is also a wonderful way for someone who is thinking about getting chickens to experience keeping chickens without the full commitment.

Who would make a good chicken sitter?

Neighbors

Family

Friends

Local Dog walkers/Pet sitters-some will chicken sit if you call and ask

Local 4-H Club members

Don't forget to ask if your local feed store knows of anyone who could help too.

Pre-Trip Planning:

1.  Clean the coop and the nesting boxes a day or two before you leave.  This makes chicken sitting much more pleasurable for your sitter.  When the coop is clean, it is much easier and welcoming.

2.  Be sure you have extra food available.  Always keep extra food, grit, oyster shells on hand just in case.

3.  Label everything and tidy up.  I would strongly encourage you to label even the obvious to you.  Label feed, scratch, grit and the like.  Chicken scratch to a newbie could easily be confused as feed.  Also, tidy things up so that everything they need is visible and they do not have to spend time sifting through a cluttered place of chaos.

4.  Give directions.  In addition to reviewing directions in person, write them down.  This serves as a great reference when you are not available.

5.  Be sure the sitter keeps the routine as close to what you do when you are with the chickens.

6.  Harvest eggs frequently.  This should still be done in the morning, afternoon and evening.  If this is difficult for one person, than perhaps this task could be shared with another friend, such as a neighbor.

7.  Prevent boredom.  Leave some suggestions, such as tossing in a whole cabbage every few days or so.

8.  Leave a phone number of a fellow chicken keeper.  This is so important.  You might not be available when a question or concern pops up.  It helps to have a knowledgeable chicken keeper available to make an on-site visit if necessary.

9.  Keep a chicken first aid kit.

10. Provide a phone number of a local avian vet.

11.  Inspect the coop and run.  Be sure all of your latches function properly.  Be sure all aspects of your coop are in good working condition.  Be sure to inspect your predator proofing.  Make any repairs as necessary.

12.  Predators will know when things are different.  They will notice the absence of the family dog.  If you always lock up your chickens, then the chicken sitter should do the same.  Do not leave the coop pop-up door open if this is not your common practice.  Predators will and do take note. Be extra vigilant.  Utilize motion sensor flood lights.  Keep the porch light on.

13.  Let your neighbors know you will be away.  Encourage other neighbors, friends and family to stop in and visit the flock while you are away.

14.  Leave a thorough, easy reference book that is not intimidating for the chicken sitter.  How could anyone feel intimidated by a copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies?

A day or two before your trip, schedule a quick training with your chicken sitter.

Review all of your planning.

Demonstrate coop locks and have them work them while you are there.

Encourage phone calls to you with flock updates.

Discuss a plan on how to handle an escaped chicken or if one does not return in the evening from free ranging.

Talk about treats including types, amount and frequency.

Alert them to any current issues such as molting, wounds, health concerns, pecking order or egg problems.

General Tips for Smoother Chicken Sitting:

1.  Let the chickens out in the run in the morning.  Once they are all are out of the coop, lock them out into the run and perform your chicken sitting duties.  Refill feeders and waterers.   Check for eggs and do any other necessary housekeeping.  This is less stressful for the chicken sitter and also helps to prevent chickens from inadvertently escaping or distracting the sitter who may not be accustomed to the flock's behavior. Do not forget to re-open the pop door once the daily tasks are complete.

2.  Double up on feeders and waterers just in case something happens during the day that might not get noticed quickly.  This also helps to prevent problems if a feeder or waterer malfunctions.

3.  Keep a few spare egg cartons or an egg basket near your chicken supplies in case your sitter forgets to bring one from home for the eggs.

We have been away a few times and I can honestly say that the flock does very well with a little preparation.  Typically our chicken sitter is my Mother.  She is the only one who has gorgeous blond hair and the chickens, I believe, have come to recognize her for it.  The chickens and she get along very well.  Even when she comes over to visit, they perk up and call to her as soon as they see her get out of the car.  They know her voice and they expect treats!    It is always nice to know that she, the neighbors and friends are there and visit when we are away. The girls are well cared for.  Yet, one of the things that I look forward to when we come home is seeing the chickens giddy with excitement.  They do remember us!  It warms my heart to look into Tilly's eyes and tell her that her chicken Momma has returned, just as promised.

To read more about Tilly, click here.







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