Thursday 13 June 2013

Goldie's Due Day

Pregnancy day 31 for our big, meat breed doe, Goldie, a cross between a Flemish Giant and a Californian white, now mated to another meat breed buck. Right on cue she has started plucking out her belly fur to line the nest; there are small piles of it in the run and the hutch is white with it. This is usually all you see and, as we have said before, you are wise if you do not go exploring further as the doe may eat the babies if put under stress. Our approach is just to leave well alone for at least 2 weeks and wait for babies to start exploring and come into view that way.

My second pic is of Goldie 'upstairs' in the hutch with a great tuft of white fur in her mouth, looking like she has a beard. We think she is nesting upstairs and ignoring my nice downstairs nest box. Last time we changed the hay up there (a few days ago) she suddenly stopped using that room as the latrine and changed to poo-ing outside on the grass, which is much more convenient. This, we are told, may be another sign as rabbits generally keep the nest very clean. So, roll on 2 weeks or so, and the 27th.

After that scare a couple of days back where gosling No 6 vanished for 2 hours, we thought we were having Déjà Vu this morning. I let the 8 young chickens out as usual and fed them. There was then a fair amount of noise and excitement as Mike the Cows and his brother(s) came up to round up the group of 20+ cows and calves to walk them down the lane for sorting out the sell animals for today's mart in Castlerea. We had vehicles, men shouting, cattle scampering about in the next door field and up and down the lane. When I went to look again I could see only 2 of the 8 chickens, one of the dark buffs and a light one, happily scratching on the new bed but lacking their 6 companions. These 8 have formed such a tight group that you only ever see them all together like a tight-knit street gang. 'Only 2' spelt trouble!

I started searching but as I checked more and more areas I started to fear the worst. I could hear in my head a post one of the poultry keepers had posted on our discussion website yesterday about a disastrous fox attack which had lost him 20-30 rare and unusual ducks. His son had left a gate ajar. I was clinging to the fact that I had found no feathers, no carcasses or evidence, plus that there had been no noise from dogs or geese and, anyway, I doubted that a fox or a mink would come visiting while all the cattle racket and men shouting was going on and calmly stash 6 fully-feathered (i.e. not wing clipped or pinioned) poults into his carrier bag undetected. But where were they?

Liz came out too, and we started even checking sheds etc in case they'd wandered in and the wind had blown a door shut on them. Liz was even heading for the caravan to check when I saw all 6 stroll back through the field gate from the cattle field. Imagine our immense relief as the 6 reunited with the 2 and the 8 went back to gang-mode. We imagine that they became separated during the cattle move but, like with Gosling 6, we will never know. This time it had a happy ending.

Unfortunately I need to report a sad story, this time for our two sick goslings down in the 'hospital' at Carolyn's, 'Lucky' and 'Dip'. The ladies had become very concerned for these 2. Lucky, as he got heavier was becoming more and more unable to use his left leg, the one damaged when the gander (?) hurled him a cross the room on that first day of hatch. He now sat on his breast with his leg sticking out behind, unable to walk, and shuffled himself along the floor, pushing on the other leg. His sibling was able to walk but had one foot all curled round like a Chinese bound-foot and had very unco-ordinated control of his neck and head. Charlotte had been persevering mercifully with his physio-swims but he could not swim unaided and he still tired so that his neck would then flop his face under water.

I went down to check them today. Poor little mites were obviously quite happy and oblivious, cuddled up together, the best of buddies in their rabbit hutch. I discussed it with Carolyn and then decided that enough was enough. As the weights of these birds started to increase, these leg issues would only get worse and the geese would start to suffer. So I am sad to report that I put these guys down, obviously as quickly, cleanly, quietly and respectfully as possible and without either seeing the other. Where you have livestock, so the saying goes, you have dead stock. I would like to go on record here and thank both Carolyn and especially Charlotte who has borne the brunt of all the 'nursing' and physio. Without you guys these two would certainly have not gone on this long and between us we gave them every possible chance. Unfortunately, you can't save them all. Thank You for trying.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

So things are looking good for Goldie, we are still waiting to see if her mum is pregnant.