Surprisingly, I got the final results back from the necropsy performed by the CAHFS Lab already, and their conclusion as to why Sophia died? They don't know why (although they used more scientific terms than that). At the very least, we know she didn't die of any infectious disease thanks to their tests.
So, knowing we don't have something communicable in our remaining flock of one, we can think of building it up again. ZsuZsu is back to laying eggs again, and I'm anxious to get her a companion to share the Eglu out in the backyard.
As with all things chicken-related, I've been doing some research on the subject of adding a new chicken to the flock, and I gotta tell you: this isn't as easy as dropping another goldfish in the aquarium.
Among the finer points of "how to introduce the new bird" which present a challenge:
- To accommodate biosecurity concerns, we'll need to keep the new bird separated from ZsuZsu for anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks depending on which resource you choose to heed. We certainly don't want to get ZsuZsu sick from a companion, no matter how lonely she is. Keeping them separated, however, presents a bit of a challenge in our backyard, and we'll need to get yet another temporary pen/house to do so.
- To accommodate behavioral concerns, we're going to need to find a way to provide room in the Eglu (run is 7'x3', coop is 2.5'x2.5') for the newbie to get away from ZsuZsu, or vice versa, while they establish the pecking order. While I'd love to think ZsuZsu is easy-going and will quickly warm up to whatever new bird we bring in, I also need to be prepared for them to not get along.
Talking things over with LeftCoastMom, we've agreed we don't want to start raising a week-old chick at this point of the year. I'm getting ready to do some pretty heavy travel in the next few months, and the room in which we raised Sophia and ZsuZsu two years ago has been converted into a painting/crafts room for our daughters.
So that leaves us to get a months-old pullet. I've found a local source, Ranch Hag Hens, from which to get the chicken (we'll decide on the breed from what they have available when we get there: either a Rhode Island or an Orpington or a Brahma). And they're not too far away, just 90 minutes north of us.
Now, before digging into the finer points of adding chickens to an existing flock, I'd thought I could take my daughters with me on the drive up and over the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow to visit Ranch Hag Hens and pick out a new chicken.
It depends now on how much prep work I can get done today to set up a temporary new coop and run in the backyard today. Wish me luck.
"Vacancy" Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks on Flickr