A Comb, a Crop and a Cat in the Chicken Coop

It's been awhile since I've checked in about our five hens and the coop. The winter has brought some not so surprising challenges; how to keep the water from freezing, how to keep the chickens from freezing, and how to do that without burning down the coop. Nothing a well secured heat lamp and a heated water pedestal couldn't take care of. We've even got a thermostat in the coop that remotely reports the temp in the coop on a digital readout in the kitchen. The biting cold of early winter nipped the comb of our prize winning Buff Orpington, with one of her comb tips blackened with frostbite. Looks like her showing days are over.

I'll get to the cat, but the biggest recent drama was when Cheesy, our Buff Orp. fell ill and just sat in the nest all day. At first I thought she was just broody. That's what my chicken farmer friend suggested. By the way, I love the word "broody." Next time I'm feeling cranky and under the weather I'm pulling the "broody" card. But she was more than broody. Cheesy started to look real sickly, with her comb turning black. Needless to say I was alarmed when I Googled "black comb chicken" and got a bunch of links to "Avian Flu." 

I overcame my fears of the chicken plague and gave Cheesy a chicken physical and discovered that her breast was hard and felt like it was full of gritty silly putty. Turns out she had an impacted crop. Her food was stuck in the first stage of a chicken's digestive system. The girls and I massaged it and softened it up enough so that the food could pass. When our neighbor, who thinks our chickens are rather spoiled, found out about the massaging he impacted his crop when he broke into hysterical laughter in the middle of eating his dinner. Cheesy is back to her feisty self.

Yesterday while the coop was open and the chickens were free ranging a cat got into the coop and played a game of chase with our Golden Laced Wyandotte. Everything turned out OK. Just another backyard farming adventure at the Goodwin chicken ranch.