Spa Day in the Coop

Angitou gets ready for a haircut
It has been a busy spring, but a couple of the hens have been in need of some beauty touch-ups, so Kathy and I found some time to set up our chicken spa.  Angitou the golden Polish hen recently completed a spring molt and shed and regrew all of her feathers including the feathers in her beautiful and elaborate crest.  She has a fantastic "hairdo" but unfortunately her crest now completely covers her eyes.  And if we can't see her eyes, that means she can't see much of anything.  Time for a little tonsorial remediation.  Kathy held her in her lap, while I went to work with the scissors.  Angitou was very brave, even when the scary sharp scissors were snipping right around her eyes.  Feathers, like our hair, are dead tissue, so a feathercut is just like a haircut and causes the chicken no pain.  The only thing to avoid is cutting the shaft of the feather too close to the skin, and cutting pinfeathers during a molt.  Pinfeathers are very much living tissue with a blood supply and can bleed a lot if cut.

After we were done and Angitou was back in the coop I decided that my fear of destroying her elegance had prevented me from giving her a proper haircut (um….feathercut) and that I still couldn’t see her eyes!  She’ll need a second session, but we will give her a few day—she’s had enough excitement for a while.

 Buffy the buff Orpington hen was in desperate need of a pedicure, so she was the next customer in our spa.  Once again, Kathy held her while I wielded the sharp instrument—this time a dog nail clipper.  Chickens usually wear down their nails just in the process of walking and scratching, but occasionally hens will grow their nails so long that they start to curl, which can interfere with the way they walk.  Buffy’s long nails are probably a result of a recent bout of broodiness—she wasn’t moving around much when she was sitting on the nest, so the nails just grew.  The tricky part about cutting nails is that if you cut them too short they will bleed, since there’s living tissue, called quick, inside the near end of the nail.  There are some great tutorials available on the internet about cutting chicken toenails, including this one.
Buffy needs a pedi
The final bit of coop news is that Courtney the Silkie hen has ditched her teenage Legbar kids—she’s gone broody and has settled into a nest box 24/7.  The Legbars vacillate between happily spending time out in the run without giving their mom a thought to gathering around Courtney’s nest box all perplexed and peeping.  I’ve also seen one or more of the chicks in the nest box with Courtney trying to cuddle.  She just sits there and ignores them in her broody stupor.  Life can be so cruel!

Today Courtney started broodiness therapy in the broody coop.  I put the broody coop right next to the small coop where the Legbars live and they sometimes gather around and peep forlornly to their mom through the fence.  It is reminiscent of the scene in Dumbo where Dumbo’s mom gets locked in a cage and Dumbo can see her through the bars but can’t be with her.  It is just a little heartbreaking.  It is also timed perfectly with the millions of high school graduations around the country where kids are leaving school, home, and mom and dad to go out into the wide world.  It is a part of life that none of us can avoid—not even Courtney and her Legbar chicks.   

Courtney broods

Broody Rehab

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