The welsummers haven’t laid a single egg. Now this could be normal because from everything I’ve read, it can take several weeks for them to get over the trauma of being moved. But again, you don’t know why they’ve been sold at auction. Perhaps they’re just old. “Check their vents,” one Web site urged. “If they are moist, they’re of egg bearing age. If dried and puckered, the hens have probably outlived their usefulness.”
(If the above grosses you out, read no further.)
So I checked their vents. This, for the unititated, basically means running around after chickens who don’t want to be caught, rounding them up and herding them into the coop, and lunging at their feet–at which point you dangle them upside down. The hens don’t like this, but at some point, they give up–and just kind of go stiff, like they’re dead. Which made life much easier.
And which made it much easier to see that they were crawling–CRAWLING–with lice. There were eggs crusted around their vents, creepy crawlies scurrying over their skin. It was gross, and those poor hens must have been miserable.
Now I had dusted them before they went into the coop in the first place, but obviously it didn’t work. So I dusted them again with diatomaceous earth (which, by the way, totally kills any chicken poo smell in the coop and I’ve started adding to their feed as a dewormer), and went down to Del’s to get a permethrin spray. I would like to be all natural and everything, but sometimes you just need to use chemicals. Came back, cleaned out the coop, sprayed it down. Caught ALL the chickens, sprayed them down too (though no one else seemed to have lice). This was Sunday; yesterday, they were clean and clear.
So what I think is that they just had a bad infestation and stopped producing–and that’s why they went at auction. Could be wrong, but it’s a working theory that allows me to the luxury of thinking that one day they will produce.
Oh, and I battened down the hatches of the run yesterday. The buttercup and Stubbs both gave me an egg. So there’s a clutch of eggs somewhere out there in the yard ….