Apr 9, 2012

Goodbye sweet April.

April and her surrogate chick, a Black Copper Marans, a few weeks ago

This is April, my only Buff Orpington. She was a surrogate mama this winter and the last of her babies had been adopted out to a lovely couple that drove eight hours from Pennsylvania to get them. April disappeared the next the day. Part of me thinks she was despondent and took off to parts unknown trying to find her chicks or brood some new ones. The realist in me knows that in allowing my chickens the natural joys and benefits of free-ranging, nature will claim some of them. That is the circle of life and I accept those risks. My acceptance of the risks or not, it was still awful to lose April and I am heartbroken that she is gone.

Orpingtons are one of the most friendly breeds I have ever had in my flock. April laid 3-4 eggs per week and was a diligent broody, although her bark was worse than her bite. The moment I realized that April was missing, I knew I needed another Buff Orpington, not to replace April, but to continue to enjoy the beauty and demeanor of the breed.
Orpingtons are one of the most friendly breeds I have ever had in my flock. April laid 3-4 eggs per week and was a diligent broody, although her bark was worse than her bite.
As a result of my hatching addiction this winter, my flock became primarily black and blue. While my chickens are beautiful and include Blue and Black Ameraucanas and Black Copper Marans, my flock is just not as diverse as I would like it to be. It was no mistake that I found myself at the feed store today. I knew they were getting a new shipment of baby chicks and I had my heart set on some more Buff Orpingtons. What I returned home with was a box full of different colors and feather patterns.

For the first time ever, I purchased chicks that were vaccinated for Marek's disease and coccidiosis. When chicks are vaccinated for cocci, they should not be given medicated chick starter feed as in doing so, the chicks would be rendered unprotected.
Dark chick=Columbian Wyandotte, the chick in front is a White Orpington and the other is a Buff Orpington.
Dark chick: Columbian Wyandotte, the chick in front is
White Orpington and the other is a Buff Orpington.
Left to right: White Orpington, Columbian Wyandotte, Buff Orpington.
Left to right: White Orpington, Columbian Wyandotte, Buff Orpington. 
The chick on the far left is a Speckled Sussex.
The chick on the far left is a Speckled Sussex.
The chicks adapted naturally to the EcoGlow Brooder. I got a chance to try out my new,  Happy Hen Deluxe Chick Corral and I love it.  It's huge and a breeze to set-up.
The chicks adapted naturally to the EcoGlow Brooder.
I got a chance to try out my new,  Happy Hen Deluxe Chick Corral and I love it. 
It's huge and a breeze to set-up.
Speckled Sussex.
Speckled Sussex.
While it's always a joy to welcome baby chicks, the arrival of these spring chickens is bittersweet. They will always remind me of April.
Goodbye girl, you are missed.
While it's always a joy to welcome baby chicks, the arrival of these spring chickens is bittersweet. They will always remind me of April. Goodbye girl, you are missed.
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26 comments :

  1. "When chicks are vaccinated for cocci, they should not be given medicated chick starter feed as in doing so, the chicks would be rendered unprotected."
    Thank you! I did not know this. I will double check next time I get some 'day olds' at the feed store.
    Sorry for your loss...I lost one of my best broody, the same way too. I believe she went looking for her lost baby chick.

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    1. Happy to pass along the cocci information. :)

      And thank you.

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  2. So sad. I'm Sorry for your loss. So brave of you to share this.

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  3. I'm so sorry for the loss of Miss April. :( thank you for sharing all your joys & sadness-es with us!
    I look forward to watching your new babies grow!

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    1. Thank you so much. I appreciate your taking the journey with me even over the bumpy roads. ♥

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  4. I'm sorry for your loss of April. I lost 2 of my chicks to a hawk last week and even though they were young, it's still hard. I haven't had a problem before. I guess that is the food chain. I'm keeping a closer eye on the others now! Thanks for the pictures of your new babies.....they are adorable.

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  5. I so appreciate your sharing the bad along with the good of Chicken parenthood. It helps us all to be more aware of our responsibilities and enjoyment of our broods. I for one am going to invest in bird netting to hang above my flocks outdoor runs. I know the hearbreak of losing such a special lady. Be kind to yourself Kathy, April lives on thru your love of chickens. Bright Blesssings.....Ilean

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    1. Thank you Ilean. I'm not beating myself up over my choice to free-range, I believe in it wholeheartedly.
      I do not believe that there is a right or wrong choice when it comes to free-range. My chickens are pets and this is how I choose to let my pets live. It's a personal choice that each chicken-keeper is entitled to make given their individual resources and risk tolerance.

      Thank you for your comment Ilean. I do love my chickens and sometimes keeping them is not all roses and sunshine.

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  6. So sorry for your loss. We run +300 chickens free range. When I try to describe the risks of truly free ranging birds some folks just don't get it, preferring, I think, an idyllic myth of nature in harmony ;-) But there is nothing sweeter than a good protective mother hen teaching her little ones to scratch around in the big world!

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    1. Thank you Deb. I don't try to persuade people of the benefits or detriments of free-ranging as I believe there are many valid ways to keep chickens. I do what works for me. Chickens can be happy and healthy in many different set-ups and whatever works for you is what you should feel comfortable doing. Nevermind those who judge you. I don't. ;)

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  7. So sorry to hear about April. It's never easy to lose one.

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    1. It's not but I know she lived a wonderful life and was well-loved, which is some consolation. Thank you bikerchic.

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  8. So sorry about April. My Buff Orpingtons are the most docile in my group, too. Sherlock and Little Boy are my two Buff Orp roosters, and while they love to sass me when I'm gardening, they love to jump up and tug my finger so I'll come down to their level and let them snack out of my hand.

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    1. Thank you Hope. Your girls sound like characters!

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  9. So sorry to hear about your sweet April. Her memory will always be with you and live on in your wonderful flock! Thank you for sharing the joys AND the sadness in the chicken world.

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  10. I'm hoping to get some new chickens at the weekend.  I currently have 2 Pekin Bantams that are roughly 9 months old.  The breeder has some slightly younger pullets to mine of some girls who are 12-14 mths old.  Which age am I best of getting?  She suggested the older ones as they might be able to stand up for themselves if they should get picked on.  Also what is the best way to introduce new chickens in your opinion?  

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  11. TheChickenChick10/25/12, 8:24 PM

    Personally, I don't add anything but baby chicks fresh out of the incubator to bring into my flock. The disease implications are just much too risky. Regardless of the age of the chicken (as long as they are older than 12 weeks) integration would be the same: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html I hope that helps!

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  12. Peggy Schoenbeck Farley10/19/13, 8:26 PM

    So sorry to read about another loss! But this article was fantastic as usual.

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  13. TheChickenChick10/19/13, 8:43 PM

    Thanks Peggy.

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  14. My condolences for your April. My 2 Buffs are my loves.

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  15. So sorry for your loss! I am a chicken love also. I never grew up around them so didn't know anything til my father-in-law got some. Then about three years later when his flock was nearly gone I decided to try my hand at raising my own, so I got 6 golden comets. Then got 13 more the nest year. Then some dogs came and killed the remaining of my father-in-laws flock and 3 of mine, and possums killed several. Finally I got them secure and the dog problem solved and I was left with 11. Then one died from egg lock. So this spring I decided to add variety to my flock and got 3 buff orpingtons, 3 sex links, 2 olive eggers, 2 americaunas and 4 french black copper marans. I am smitten! And my egg customers and I eagerly await the new variety of eggs :) Thanks for all your helpful tips. Maybe I'll post pics of my flock on here.

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  16. I lost my baby girl to an opossum tonight. I'm a crying mess. Is there anything I can do to help the trama of my other girls?

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  17. I'm very sorry to hear it. There really isn't anything you can do to help the flock get past the stress.

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