My grandfather kept poultry, my earliest memories are of my father working for Thornbers Hatchery around 1959-61 (he had a red Austin A35 van) and when I started work, after years of working round poultry in school holidays, I went to work on a poultry breeding farm under a man who had been on the staff of Wye College in the 1930s.
What I’m getting round to telling you is that I have an “old school” approach to keeping animals.
When we were collecting eggs this morning one of the group noticed that we had a guinea fowl with a foot problem. A big ball of much had gathered under one of its feet and was causing a limp. Normally these gather on the toes. It’s caused by walking around on wet surfaces and when you let the birds wander, like out guinea fowl (which are as hard as peacocks to keep from wandering), it will happen.
As I say, normally these balls of muck gather on the toes. They are made up of mud, straw wood shavings and what I will refer to as “other substances”.
The old school cure is to hit them with a hammer or (because this is a farm and we never use tools properly) a big spanner. If the ball is held against a hard surface and tapped with repeated gentle knocks, the ball will usually crumble away. It sounds a bit drastic but the bird is normally happy to watch and shows no signs of distress. Compared to pulling, cutting or soaking, it is quick, efficient and pain free. It just sounds drastic.
The cause of the problem for the guinea fowl today was that it had gathered a piece of binder twine around its middle toe and the trailing end had allowed the ball to form, so after breaking up the ball we had to cut the twine and unwind it.
This had cut into the toe and looked quite sore.
Unfortunately you can’t completely guard against bits of binder twine, but you do need to remain vigilant when keeping poultry.
As I’ve said before – never a dull moment!