Brian, good knowledge. It loooked to me like it was some kind of scale ugly condition. These layers would all be in their second year, we got them in spring of 2006, and they were laying by May, so they were months old to begin with. Maybe it is their time for the soup pot. The chickens are on reasonably dry ground, they are not standing in muck any more. But of course were before. We have separated the ducks and geese from the chickens and the chickens have their own yard back. My sister put hemlock shavings all over their yard (that was alot of work) and it remains dry. The ducks were the ones that made such muck, their love of water is unbelievable!!!! So, I bet that they contracted this fungus when the ducks were in their space. I don't like the thought of any unhealthiness going on around my place with animals, so I will be encouraging her to lop the heads of any chickens displaying this disease. And besides, they must be getting rather old for laying eggs, although they are still producing well enough.
The old Mother and Father of my Sister-in-Law came down to visit from Burns Lake last summer. That is way up north, cold, cold cold, but very beautiful. They are old time farmers and loved our chickens and fowls. She showed my sister how to figure out if hens were laying or not. It would appear that you have to put a couple of fingers up their butt to feel the size of the bones or something inside. Ooops, family forum? Anyways, this was so gross to me that I did not even take the time to watch this demonstration. I guess it works, but it is not for me (and my Sister doesn't like to do it either), but she had the guts to do it and she did!!!! Eeeeks........even thinking about it makes my blood run cold!!!!
There must be a better way (hint, help).
We are incubating our own chickens for meat and laying. We hatched out about a dozen two weeks ago and have 48 more now in the incubator. It is a new experience this incubating and it is very cool. We purchased a second hand one and it holds about 120 eggs I would venture, but we are starting out slow. Trying to hone the skill of incubation and raising chickens.
We don't know what breed the chickens will be though. We have the red layers, maybe comets or something, I am not sure and two roosters, so I have no clue what these chickens will be like. We really don't know an awful lot about genetics of birds.
I think the most confusing thing is: how do you tell the male chicks from the female? I guess I need to do more studying this winter. We will have more chicks coming in around 3 weeks, they went in the incubator yesterday.
We hatched out about 12 (or so) Muscovey ducks and they are really cute now. Stories to tell of these, but I don't have much time this morning, kids will be all up soon and then I am really busy for a couple of hours, but this is what the two roosters look like that breed with the chickens. Have a wonderful and beautiful day, in our great ol' world. Cindi