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At Home With Pure--Caramelina, Our Runt

At Home With Pure--Caramelina, Our Runt

I remember reading Charlotte's Web as a young girl and all the drama around poor Wilbur, the runt.  I really never gave much thought to the idea that one of our backyard chickens would be a runt.  But our little Caramelina is.  In the image above, the chicks are about 2 weeks old.  You can see that Caramelina looks much younger than her hatchmate, Goldie.  

Caramel was one of the chicks that arrived from the feed store "pasted up."  We cleaned her up, but the oil we put on her to stop the pasting from happening kind of matted up her feathers and made her look small.  So for quite a few days, I didn't think anything of her being so tiny.  But as the days passed, I realized she was not just not as fluffy as the rest, she really was smaller.  As the weeks have gone by, she has been slow about growing, and not as fast to feather up, but she has a lot of energy and pep, so I have not worried too much.

Caramelina has done quite well and not had any issues until one day, she got pecked in the neck.  I am not sure if it was an accident (because she is often under everyone's feet as they eat.)  No one seemed to be purposefully pecking at each other, but it was around the time that dominances were emerging.  You know, the pecking order.  Anyway, suddenly Caramelina had a deep gouge in her neck.  She started scratching at it and it looked like it was getting worse.  I called the feed store to ask what to do, in a bit of a panic.  They told me that the feed store had medicine that would keep the others from picking at the bleeding and help it heal.  As soon as others picking at the blood was mentioned, I looked into the brooder and surely, the others would look curiously and take a quick peck at the wound.  My stomach sank.  I had heard stories of birds with tiny injuries dying due to the pecking.  I tried to separate Caramelina, but she cried and cried for her sisters.  And they cried back for her.  We stuck her in a crate though and took her to the feed store.  I had washed her up and put Neosporin on, but I NEEDED this miracle medicine that would let her stay in the crate with the other chicks.

To stop her from scratching her wounded neck, I made her a little chick "cone of shame" by cutting off a bit of the toilet paper roll and then taping it smaller around her neck so that she could not scratch.  She hated it.  ;)  But it kept her from scratching.

I got the medicine (called Pick No More) and it seemed to disinfect the wound and soothe it, but it also dyed the area purple so the other chicks would not pick at it.  I put it on her and sure enough, no one picked at her.  They would look curiously, but not touch.  Her wound was able to heal and she was able to maintain her place in the brooder.

After a few days, I found that the wound was healing, but that the matted down was drawing attention and I was needing to apply more of the purple stuff to hide the scab.  I was pretty sure we would go through a whole bottle in the time it took for the scab to fall off, and I was also worried that the pink of her skin would invite more picking.  So I went all "chicken hairstylist" on her.  I washed her up and then blow dried the down and fluffed it around the scab so that it was all covered by the down.  No one blinked twice at Caramelina.


Getting her past the establishment of the pecking order was the hardest part.  Now that things are established, Caramelina seems to be ok.  I have made sure that we have enough waterers and the feeder is big enough that everyone can eat at the same time.  We've just come to realize that Caramelina seems healthy and energetic, but will just be smaller than the rest of the group.

Here is Caramelina watching all the "big girls."  Sometimes they can do more than she can, since they are bigger and have more feathers.  But she still keeps trying.  Team Caramelina!

Comments (7)

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8 years ago
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