August 2009

Featherless Penguin Given a Wetsuit

Ralph, a Humboldt penguin and resident of Marwell Wildlife, near Winchester, Hampshire,

England, has an inexplicable habit of losing all of his feathers at once when he molts, instead of gradually. Usually as a penguin loses old feathers, new ones begin growing in. But not so nine year old Ralph. His keepers at Marwell Wildlife's Penguin World therefore hit upon creating a protective wet suit for poor Ralph, since until the new feathers grow in, the bald penguin risks rather serious sun burn. They made his wetsuit from the leg of a man's wet suit, and it seems to be working quite well for Ralph. His own feathers should have grown back in three weeks or so.

How Are Chicken Eggs Graded?

Most people who bought baby chicks this spring are approaching, or have already received, their first eggs.  I'm seeing a lot of egg-related questions on the chicken forums around the internet!  One question you may have is, what grade egg did your chicken just produce?

There are two factors that go into grading eggs: their size (Pee Wee through Jumbo), and their quality (C through AA).  Just as an example, the last eggs I bought at the store were Grade AA Large.

The weight of the eggs is pretty straightforward.  I'm a knitter, so I have a small digital scale which I use to weigh out sock yarn by the gram.  A small kitchen scale may give you enough resolution to weigh your eggs properly.  You can also buy egg scales, which is probably only useful if you plan to sell your eggs.

Egg Sizes:

The First Egg - So Exciting!

I got my first egg (ever!) over the weekend.  I opened the coop to refill their feeder, and there it was!  It was so tiny - about 2/3rds the size of a store-bought egg.  This is normal, because it takes a while for a pullet's system to get fully up and running. 

From what I have read, it can be up to a month before "the egg factory" is fully functional.  Until then, eggs will be laid sporadically, and "weird eggs" can be produced.  Some crazy stuff can come out of a chicken, and I'm on the lookout for anything unusual and exciting!

Put an End to Unnecessary McDonald's Chicken Cruelty

If you are familiar with the way chickens are killed for consumption in factory farms, you know about many of the horrors they face.

Overcrowded conditions make them peck each other to death out of stress. Females often have their beaks burned off with a hot blade to prevent this, and they subsequently starve; males, considered useless, are often thrown into bags to suffocate.

You also know that there are more humane ways of slaughtering animals. Controlled-atmosphere killing (or CAK), though still killing, is a more humane method to use.

It involves placing an animal into a container that lacks oxygen, but contains argon or other elements to make the animal lose total consciousness. Hens can lose consciousness within 20 seconds, enabling a much less painful death without the suffering.

Crows Can Remember and Stalk People

Ever since the movie "The Crow" and the accidental shooting death of Brandon Lee, I have been less than fascinated by the feathery friends in the sky and more than a little creeped out. Via the Stranger, according to a recent NPR report, crows can not only remember people, they can "stalk" people they don't like this as well. Watch this clip. For more information, read the full story here and remember my oh so deep words of wisdom, "Never piss off a crow."