From time to time, I look at the adoptable animals from my local shelter. Of course, they usually break my heart and I have to stop looking because otherwise I'd want to adopt them all. Most of the time, I just check the "barnyard buddies" section, because from time to time, there's a chicken there. And that's just what happened a few weeks ago. A rather poor picture accompanied by the uninspired name of "Chic" was on the site. I was intrigued. A visit to the shelter was clearly required.
I found "Chic" in the rabbit room, where all the rabbits and other small furry pocket pets have their living quarters at the shelter. I find it hard to go into that room because again, I want to adopt them all, especially the bunnies. Still, I was on a chicken mission, and there she was, looking sad, thin, and rather pathetic.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that she had been quite brutally debeaked. The process of debeaking is commonly used in "battery" chickens to prevent them from pulling each others' feathers out, since they live in such small, confined quarters, and they easily get bored. Usually, debeaking takes off the first third of the beak. I dislike the practice, but I understand why it is done.
The chicken I was looking at in the shelter had been debeaked nearly to her nostrils. This was highly abnormal, and very sad. I couldn't leave her there, so, I adopted "Chic" and promptly renamed her "Red Rosie" because she is red, probably a Red Star variety. She was in rough condition when I got her. She had been found by the city animal control unit, wandering around on a busy downtown street in a not-so-good part of town. She had bedraggled and dirty feathers, pale comb and wattles, and a frightened look in her eyes. I didn't know how well she would adapt to life with me, but I was determined to give it my best shot.
Red Rosie has done tremendously well in the weeks since I acquired her. She began her life with me on high protein chicken feed, supplemented with her special treat mixture: cottage cheese, minced garlic (for immunity and natural deworming), oatmeal, and chopped grapes and tomatoes. She now has clean and bright feathers and a bright comb and wattles. She has put on weight and is much healthier, and continues to enjoy her treats as well as regular chicken feed.
After nearly 3 weeks of having her, one day she laid the most enormous egg I have ever seen. Since then, she lays an egg every other day. They're huge, and very tasty!
She now follows me around the yard when I am outside, not unlike a dog. She comes when called, and is a delight to be with. One of her favourite activities is digging potatoes with me. I begin to dig a hole, and once I have a couple of scoops of dirt out of the hole, she hops in. She scratches around for worms and other delights, then hops out and looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to do my part. I willingly take another couple of scoops of dirt, and in she goes. This continues until we get to the potatoes. Raw potato isn't good for chickens, so I scoop out the potatoes and let her scratch around for more bugs. I think she believes the potatoes are eggs and she does have an interest in them. I have to keep her attention focused on the worms.
I do believe that Red Rosie is as happy to be with me as I am to be with her. She has blossomed in her time here, and I hope that she has many more years of potato digging, egg laying, and general happiness to come. Thank you Red Rosie, for finding me and adopting me as your chicken mom!