Chickens, turkeys and ducks, oh my!
Ever since we moved out here, we wanted to have free range chickens and farm fresh eggs. They are so good for you and of course super for the dogs and our puppies since all of our puppy food and puppy formula is homemade. You would think that having free range chickens at Rottieopolis might not be the best idea 😉 But all of our Rotties are SUPER with our feathered friends. Unfortunately, our neighbors dogs- not so much 🙁 I picked my kids up from school one day and came home to 3 of our neighbors dogs ripping apart the 5 Ameraucauna chicks they had raised since they were a week old 🙁 It was a horror my innocent little kids should never have had to see 🙁 Poor Sonic, our very sweet, gentle Rooster had torn off both spurs trying to defend his girls 🙁 We had hoped it was an isolated incident and decided that from now on, we would only have the chickens out when we were out with them. Fast forward about 2 weeks and we are having a cookout and the kids are in the pool when, on the other side of the Nursery, we hear quite the commotion from the birds. My daughters jumped out of the pool and sprinted towards the chickens (the only ones left). One of our Black Australorp had been completely decapitated 🙁 and T-Rex, their turkey had his wing torn off 🙁 The Neighbors dog had one of the ducks in his mouth and took off with it with my daughter in hot pursuit. Because of the surgeries, etc. she has had on her leg after her accident, she of course was no match for the dog and by the time I made it over to where everyone was, Tahlia was collapsed in a heap on the ground sobbing that she could hear her duck crying the whole way and was useless to help it 🙁 We later discovered that our other Black Australorp, Noir, had her tail ripped off- feathers and skin 🙁 My kids, who were accustomed to seeing their dogs laying with the ferrets, kittens, chickens, etc. could not wrap their mind around how or why these domesticated dogs would do something like this. After explaining that it was not the dogs fault and that they were just being dogs and had likely not been raised with chickens and did not understand that they were friends, just did not know any better, we decided to get up early in the morning and build a fortress for our birds that was not so easily penetrated! We also decided to move the chickens directly in front of the kennel. With a team of Rotties on the security detail, I think we will have much happier, safer feathered friends. I know some of you reading this might be thinking it was no big deal and they were just chickens, but they were not treated as “chickens” by my kids. They were their treasured pets. They were named and cared around and cuddled. Even the rooster could be picked up by any of my kids.
I am very proud of what my kids accomplished in just 3 days work and not a single one of them complained about the hard work in the hot sun (although I am sure dipping in the pool every few minutes helped 😉 ) But I know it was a labor of love for my kids and I am so glad they value all life.
First thing we did was put up a very large play area (25′ x 15′) for all the birds. We used kennel panels that we already had, but it was definitely back breaking work and my amazing daughters never once complained <3
Next, we wanted to make sure nothing could climb or jump over the top of the kennel walls as well as insure they were safe from hawks so we installed a nylon netting
As most of our birds are still chicks, we wanted to be sure that no one could slip through the larger kennel bars as well as ensure that no dog mouth would fit through, so we installed 80 feet of poultry netting around the kennel panels.
The boys helped gather branches from the woods that would be strong enough to support our flock.
Clover stopped by to visit and all the chicks came over to say “hi”. Normally, they might be afraid of a “predatory animal” like a cat, but they seem to know she is safe- perhaps because of the healing bite wounds she has on her back and butt from where she was also attacked by one of the neighbors dogs.
Sweet Sonic, ever on patrol trying to make sure his chicks are safe.
Meet T-Rex. He/she (don’t know the sex yet) is a turkey. My kids have raised him since he was one week old and fit in the palm of their hands. He had his wing savagely ripped off by the neighbors dogs 🙁 We were initially heartbroken, but have turned that into positive energy for our buddy as he is such a tough little cookie. The kids named him T-Rex when he first started growing because of how much bigger he was than the rest of the chicks, but now the irony in a name that not only denotes arms that are not highly functional, but also a strong, brave dino. We love our T-Rex.
Meet Noir. Her name is French and is pronounced “no-aire”. She is a Black Astralorp. Although she had her tail completely ripped off, her sister was decapitated, so all in all, she got the better end of the stick 🙁 She is also a trooper and still wants to snuggle up with the kids and hops on a lap anytime you sit down. Amazes me how so many disregard a chicken as just a farm animal or “food”, however, since I have seen the bonds of my kids with these sweet birds over the last few months, I am so proud that my children do not look at their “status” but through eyes of love and see only one of God’s creatures.
These are our youngest baby ducks, Brownie and Flash, and thankfully, they were still in their box under a heat lamp all the times the rest of the flock was attacked.
Noir found Liliana again <3
Meet Sonic. He is our rooster and the first bird we ever owned. He was rescued by a local shelter from a cock fighting ring a few years ago. He was the bait bird and badly damaged, but so gentle natured that they did not want to put him down. My husband went to drop off some supplies (we often order extra food, litter, etc. and then take some to the local shelters) at the shelter and they explained this rooster’s story to my husband. When your husband parks the car and says, “before I open the door, don’t get mad…” a rooster is the last thing you expect to see! LOL We had him for several months before my husband thought he was lonely and wanted to get him some feathered friends. I added a couple of pics of him with one of our Rotties, Roxi.
They say roosters are mean, but our sweet baby boy missed that memo. He is so tame and docile that even my youngest baby can pick him up and snuggle him.
T-Rex with our baby ducks and some of the bantams.
One of the Bantams hitches a ride on T-Rex 😉
Noir found Tahlia 😉 As you can see, in addition to her tail, some of her wing feathers were ripped out too 🙁
Shadow, one of our rescued kitties came over for some attention.
Tahlia wanted me to take a photo of Shadow with our little Bantam but while I was busy taking pics of Ethan and Korbin, the little Bantam fell asleep snuggled up against Shadow. I guess humans are not the only ones that like to snuggle against soft kitten fur <3
3 days of hard work, but we could not be more proud.
The best part of our new bird Oasis is that it is just a few feet from the kennel so I doubt any of our neighbors dogs or any other animal for that matter will be brazen enough to attack again. Most of our Rotties have some really good “friends” in the enclosure, so I am sure they will not take kindly to any acts of violence!
Kitty, Zeus and Zander are currently on duty 😉
This is the inside of the coop with the boxes for laying eggs. I cannot wait to get me some farm fresh eggs!!
Tahlia is making sure all the slide bolts like up correctly so that the “egg doors” can still secure our feathered friends inside at night.
We try to work with local (and not so local) rescues as often as we can. Nearly all our pets- except the Rotties 😉 -are rescues from the Chinchilla to the ferrets, kitties, bunnies, and pretty much all the the poultry. When I got a call to come help with round up some poultry after a welfare check on an elderly couple revealed that they were no longer capable of caring for their animals, I loaded up my kids and drove to Tennessee. Long story short, we came home with over 20 guineas and peacocks! Although not through abuse, but rather inability to care, the severity of neglect on the poor birds was no less severe. Even though we got home from the trip early afternoon, we were until the wee hours of the morning triaging sick and injured babies, trying to clean layers and layers of feces off feathers and feet, treating severe body and foot wounds and dusting everyone for mites 🙁 After it got late, I told my daughter that they could go to bed and I would finish, but they refused to leave until every single bird had a clean dry place to bed down with plenty of food and water with electrolytes. Some of the wounds will take months to heal and some will never be fixed- there are some birds with feet injuries that have already healed with deformed feet and toes 🙁 And the difference in the character of the birds is astonishing to me. All of our ducks, turkey and chicken come up to us every time they see us. My kids can pet them, pick up and snuggle all of them not only without resistance, but they lean and rub and snuggle right back. All of these birds are absolutely terrified- pretty much ferrel 🙁 But my kids are determined to heal them, body and mind, with love, and if anyone can, these amazing kids can!
Many of the birds had missing feather and gaping wounds 🙁 and there were several that had foot injuries that had already healed incorrectly like this beautiful baby who must walk on a fist and is unable to roost (sit/hold onto a branch)
We had to significantly increase the size of our bird enclosure- we thought the last one was pretty grand, but you can see where the dirt is barren of grass is where the last pen was- only about 10-15% of the size of the new one! PLUS the new one is attached completely to the climate controlled kennel so as the weather gets colder, the birds can all come indoors to stay toast <3 (yes, we spoil all our pet here) I guess the kennel as gone to the birds 😉 lol
I was DETERMINED to include that tree in the enclosure- not only do many of the birds love to roost, but it will give shelter in the summer and definitely dresses up the place. But it was so much harder than you might think to get the netting up and over that tree!! My daughter had to climb the tree behind it meanwhile I climbed that tree and my other kids used long poles to keep untangling bits of the netting from every single twig on the trees! It literally took us MANY hours over 3 days just to do that bit!
We converted 3 of the kennels to accommodate all the birds with plenty of ledges and branches to roost on, although the peacock seem to prefer flying up into the top of the kennel 😉 We added heat lamps as well as the kennel stays at about 60 degrees in the winter and we thought the birds might want to be warmer than that.
There are nest boxes for the egg layers and we have some larger nesting places like this area for the ducks who do not roost and for the birds that have injured feet and are unable to hop up on a branch.
This gorgeous boy is T-Rex, our turkey that had his arm ripped off by a neighbors dog. As you can see, he has healed brilliantly and it has not harmed his self-esteem at all- he struts around the yard like he owns the place and if someone comes into the bird enclosure that he does not know, he will follow them around all puffed up 😉 My kids love to reach down and pet him in-between the puffed up feathers where they can reach in and touch the soft downy feathers! He always flattens his feathers real quick and has this look like, “I am not cute! I am T-Rex! Fear me!” LOL But my kids can all scoop him up and carry him around or sit down and just hold him in their laps while hanging out with the birds. He is a pretty cool guy <3
IMG_0916 Please click here for a GREAT clip of T-Rex talking to my son <3
IMG_0917 Please click here for a little clip of one of our young male peacocks strutting!
Dedicated to the sweet babies we lost:
These were the Amaracuana chicks that my babies raised from hatchlings. Serenity absolutely doted on them and it was very rare to see them and not see her.
Rest In Peace sweet little ones.
The photos below are when we brought the baby ducks into Korbin and Ethan’s classes at school.
The little light brown one was the one that was carried away quacking with my daughter running after him 🙁