If you follow Hope on Twitter (@Hopecutechick) you were among the first to know that :drum roll, please: little Miss Pippa laid her first egg yesterday afternoon.
She had shown so little interest in the nesting area that I wondered aloud yesterday morning as to whether Ms. Pippa might be a Mr. Pip. Guess she needed to prove me wrong because she flapped up there a few hours later and left a pretty little cream-colored egg.
If chicken math made any sense, I would be getting seven eggs for seven hens, but Pippa’s debut only brings us up to three hens a-laying. What’s up with that?
A current mystery is why did Coco start laying lovely green eggs at four-and-a-half-months and then simply stop laying at six months? She is not molting and seems to be in fine health but has simply stopped laying. Chickens can cease to lay during the winter months, but in our neck of the woods it’s hard to make much of a case for winter being an issue. Hours of light determine the laying cycle rather than climate, but I would propose to Coco that both Lucy and Tulip seem to find the winter schedule adequate for laying, so girl, get with it!
Lucy and Tulip are diligently doing their part to provide breakfast each day.
Hope is not currently laying. She went from broody hen to mama hen to molting hen. She’s been dropping feathers for six weeks or so and appears to be nearing the end of that phase, so hopefully we will start getting some eggs from her soon. In commercial operations, a two-year-old hen is a dead hen, but many backyard flock-keepers attest to having hens that lay well into their older years. We’ll see. Hope has, of course, been promised to live out her days with no threat of becoming chicken bouillon, whether she lays eggs or not.
Of the original four chicks, Hope is the only one who has remained healthy. As many of you will recall,we lost Lily, the Delaware hen, at six months from unknown causes. And Amelia, the Light Brahma, died at a year old after several weeks of an undiagnosed illness.
Which brings us to Autumn. Poor, sweet Autumn.
Autumn’s problems with internal laying have been well-documented and updated. Regular (and expensive!) shots of Lupron have given her several extra happy months of foraging, bossing around the new chicks as they grew and being cuddled and carried around by the CE.
But now she’s struggling again. She started favoring one leg a few weeks ago, which we and the vet thought was an injury that would heal. But instead of getting better, it worsened. She can’t walk. We took her back to the vet who now diagnoses a degenerative hip – she said that Autumn’s hip socket has basically dissolved. I haven’t been able to find much information on this condition yet other than this abstract, probably since most rational people don’t routinely take their injured hens to the vet.
The vet prescribed calcium, which will hopefully build up a “false” nub at the hip joint, and pain medication to provide enough relief that she will keep moving. The vet also suggested that we crush up cuttlebone to give her additional calcium.
An immediate concern is that the other hens will respond to Autumn’s vulnerability by pecking at her, in which case we will have to separate her from the rest of the flock. For the moment, she seens to be resting comfortably and we’ll just have to take it a day at a time.
Last, but not least on the list of non-laying hens is our beauty queen, little Luna. She spends hours in the coop appearing to nest but never drops an egg. Silkies are well-known for hatching eggs; much less so for laying them, so this is not a huge surprise. But an egg or two here and there would certainly be nice. The wait continues. Perhaps the moral of the story is don’t count your chickens until they lay…