Meal Worm Rescue and a "Beakicure"

I have to say that my life has taken on some unusal practices since getting chickens. With the current wet weather, I have been adding new and unusual activities to my repertoire more often.
Last week, I set up a meal worm breeding box to have a ready source of good quality protein available for the chooks as a treat, and also for when I have a sick chicken whose appetite needs tempting. The worms have been happily breeding away in their box since I put them in there, and I’ve been giving them a diet of raw carrot, stale bread and the occasional piece of sweet potato. I’m surprised how easy it is to breed them. I just tossed them into a box of bran and left them to it, really. They’re doing the rest!

Anyway, upon going to check on the worms this morning, I found that the nest was under serious attack from invading forces. ANTS!!

The little blighters were swarming through the box, running off with bits of bran, shed meal worm skins and a team of them was even carrying off one of the worms! This, I could not have. Sandra and I spent about 45 minutes sifting the bran meal and picking out the worms to transfer them into an ant-free container while the curious, and ever hopeful chickens cooed and clucked around us, looking for a handout. We got all of the ants out of the bran and replaced the worms in their box sans ants and then I turned my attention to one of the hens that was hanging about.

Worms in our rescued meal worm farm

We bought two new Bond Brown POL hens a few weeks ago, and when we got them home, noticed that the poor little things had had their beaks trimmed rather messily. Beak trimming and debeaking is a practice I don’t hold with, but it is done with chicks which are likely to be sold into battery farming systems so these girls had probably been done by the farm that bred them prior to being sold to our local feed barn. Anyway both of them have uneven beaks as a result of this, and the bottom beaks tend to grow out past the top beak, which looks odd and probably makes eating a bit of a challenge. I filed back the beak on one of the girls a few days ago, so I had no qualms in grabbing this one (after a merry chase!) and applying my emery board to her beak too.

This hen has had her beak trimmed

The hen in the picture above is not mine, but is an example of a hen with the top beak trimmed back as my hens’ have been. Again, this is not something I would have chosen to have done to my chickens, but it is done for battery hens to prevent them from pecking each other to death in the laying pens. It only took a few minutes with the emery board to file her beak back so it matched the length of the top one. The entire operation was watched carefully by a nervously pacing rooster who demanded to know what I was doing to his favourite hen!

Her ‘beakicure’ all done, I released Rhonda who scampered off up the yard to join her flockmates, none the worse for wear.

Next adventure–Nail trimming! *ulp* That one really makes me nervous. I’ve never done it before so it will be an entirely new experience for me and the chooks!


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