backyard chickens · chicken breeds · Chickens · homesteading · raising chickens · raising chicks

Never Get Attached to the Runt…

It’s good advice not to get attached to the runt. Advice I have heard a lot but never took to heart. I have had so many runts of all different kinds, some healthy, but most not so much. Sadly there’s a reason for a runt to be a runt, and more frustratingly sometimes we as owners never get to find out what that reason is.

PeeWee died at some point last night. I found her in the coop this morning, curled up in a corner, her head resting backwards as if she were just sleeping. I worried I might have done something wrong… it did get down to 9 degrees last night after two extremely weird 60 degree days but it was around the same temperature before that, surely it had been colder. Their coop is also heated and so is their water bowl. I found no other reason for this death other than the fact she was the runt and may have had something wrong with her all along.

She was the one Light Brahma that took FOREVER to grow up. Not only did she remain small for a very long time she also took forever to drop her downy feathers and grow real ones. It is a rather sad turn of events. The Brahmas are the sweetest and most human-friendly birds we have and PeeWee was no exception. Still, I can’t say I was surprised. I was sort of bracing myself for her to die back when she was a chick. The fact she grew up and began laying eggs was a complete surprise to me. Oh well, I guess these things happen.

Stunted growth in two Light Brahma Chicks hatched the same day

Here is baby PeeWee standing next to one of her sisters who hatched on the same day she did.

And here she is a week ago – the last photo I got of her having grown to almost the size of her sisters.

I have learned from this… PeeWee and the others all came from a large hatchery where I am sure not much attention is given to the quality of their stock. A great example of this is the fact they showed these beautiful show birds on their brochures but when my hens grew up they were all very mis-marked. PeeWee had black feathers throughout her entire body even though Light Brahmas are only supposed to have black heads, tails, and feet with a white body. Now looks aren’t everything and I certainly don’t care they are more unusual than a show bird but still, I feel this shows a lack of attention to individual lines. Should I get any eggs, chicks, or birds in the future I will be getting them from small farms where their breeders take pride in their animals and pay attention to the fine details.