Tag Archives: United States

Chicken therapy

Resident Sally Cross-Sevon was introduced to "Clementine."

Resident Sally Cross-Sevon was introduced to “Clementine.”

Ellen Levinson’s tone becomes nostalgic as she recalls how she felt the day last summer when Terry Golson placed a hen in her lap.

“Having that chicken in my arms and holding it against my body was profoundly soothing,” Levinson said.

But even in that moment, she wasn’t thinking so much about herself as her clientele. Levinson is executive director of Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley , a nursing home in Littleton that offers residential care for elderly patients with memory loss as well as short-term rehabilitation services.

“We deal with agitation a lot on the dementia unit,” Levinson said. “The chicken felt wonderful to hold. Something clicked. If I were agitated or upset, this is what I would want.”

She couldn’t have been in a better place when the idea struck her. She was attending a seminar led by Golson, a Carlisle resident whose acclaim as a poultry-raising authority has landed her on Martha Stewart’s TV show and in the New Yorker magazine.

During the backyard workshop, which Golson offers periodically, Levinson found herself thinking more about how the presence of chickens might affect her patients.

“We spent some time watching the chickens as they pecked in the ground and took dirt baths, and it was fascinating,’’ Levinson said.

“One of the issues present in people with dementia is short attention span. They can’t sit still for even half an hour. But if we had the chickens nearby, I started thinking, our residents would be able to watch them for a short time, move on to something else, then come back and watch them some more. It seemed like a natural fit.”

The notion wasn’t quite as far-fetched as it might seem. With its grass-rich campus amid what was once agricultural land in Littleton, the Life Care Center has already introduced several nonhuman inhabitants into the mix. Permanently installed on the 40-acre property are goats, llamas, an alpaca, and an indoor cat, and dogs come in for daily visits; Levinson wondered how her patients might react to chickens in their midst.

Levinson asked Golson to visit the facility and advise the Life Care staff on the viability of installing a chicken coop on the grounds. Golson loved the idea. After discussing with Levinson what would be required to set up a flock, Colson and the director of the facility’s memory support unit, Erica Labb, arranged a series of visits to introduce the residents to the idea.

It was during these interactive sessions that Labb, who describes herself as “not that much of an animal person previously, but now I’m becoming one,” was struck by something she doesn’t typically see during group events in her unit: rapt attention.

Unlike the more common animal-therapy programs in which dogs are trained to visit hospitals and nursing homes, the chickens are not expected to interact in any particular way with patients. And unlike the llamas, goats, and alpaca, which are kept on the Life Care Center’s front lawn, the chickens and their coop are right outside the large picture window in the activity room.

It became clear to Golson in her initial presentations that chickens carried strong associations for some of the residents. Many of them, now in their 80s and 90s, grew up around farms or had other memories associated with farm animals.

Resident Thelma Mollot, age 101, was introduced to "Beulah," by "Chicken Captain" Terry Golson (right).

Resident Thelma Mollot, age 101, was introduced to “Beulah,” by “Chicken Captain” Terry Golson (right).

“Chickens are innately engaging,” Golson said. “I made it tactile by passing around feathers and eggs. For some of these elderly people, it’s been years since they’ve touched an egg. For those who used to do a lot of cooking or baking, having an egg in their hand can be very evocative. For one woman who grew up in Italy, holding the egg tapped into memories of making homemade pasta.”

One of Golson’s areas of expertise is, for lack of a better term, chicken personality. It was important to her to find the right mix of fowl temperaments to make this experiment work. So she began the way she always does with newcomers: by getting to know them.

“Last winter, I ordered 26 chicks from a mail-order hatchery. Once they arrived in March, I observed their innate personalities and eventually chose the five that seemed the friendliest.”

Not only did Golson want the right social characteristics among the Life Care flock, she also wanted the nursing home residents to be able to distinguish among them visually, so she chose a variety of breeds and colors to make the final cut.

The chickens and their coop showed up at the nursing home late last month.

Labb came up with an inspiration for naming the birds; she chose from among a list of the names of the residents’ mothers and grandmothers. As a result, the tenants of Life Care’s new chicken coop are Clementine, Elsie, Beulah, Mae Belle, and Millie.

“My hope is the residents get to know the chickens individually and develop some interest in their social life,” Labb said. “They’ll develop favorites. Eventually, I hope they will participate in caretaking, feeding, gathering eggs. The goal really comes down to engagement.”

Labb never anticipated adding “chicken captain” to her resume, but a few lessons from Golson taught her what she needed to know about keeping the birds safe and healthy. The maintenance staff bears the brunt of the feeding and cleaning for all the farm animals at Life Care. At this point, having animals on the property is second nature to them. Not so for those farther afield; Levinson received a phone call from a representative of the center’s accounting firm in Tennessee, who wanted to know why the nursing home had just received a bill for a chicken coop.

Littleton resident Richard Carozza , a recent McGill University graduate who is applying to medical schools, has joined the Life Care team for the summer as a volunteer to apply his scientific research skills to the experiment.

“We’ve already discovered that Life Care has a lower usage of antipsychotic drugs than other facilities with dementia patients,” he said. “Could this be related to the presence of animals?”

And by extension, Carozza wonders, can he prove a measurable difference in the patients’ behaviors after they start interacting with the chickens? He will spend much of the summer investigating these questions.

So far, Labb and Levinson both say they are pleased with the residents’ interest in the coop, and eager to foster continuing interaction throughout the summer, including having the residents help gather eggs once the chickens start laying.

Golson would like to see this model extended to other long-term care and memory loss facilities, particularly if the same careful attention to detail is followed.

“Life Care went far beyond just throwing some chickens and a coop out onto the lawn,” the facility’s consultant said. “It’s important that this not be done in a slapdash way. It has to come across as a beautiful, well-cared-for flock, just as this one is.”

And the presence of the animals helps when the residents have visitors as well.

“It’s a way of connecting generations,” Labb said. “Nursing homes can be scary places for young children. People sometimes don’t know how to visit. The animals provide something for everyone to watch together.”

Golson, whose website (www.hencam.com) features live streaming video from her own chicken coop, believes that “watching chickens is both engaging and peaceful at the same time.”

“Having chickens in the backyard is like looking at the ocean. There’s a lot of movement and at the same time it feels calming. What could be better for memory-loss patients than this constant ebb and flow in which they can engage? It’s a perfect match.”

Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/west/2013/06/26/flock-chickens-provides-new-form-animal-therapy-for-memory-loss-patients-littleton-nursing-home/Oj9mrJmiCmAI74ryCe4JuK/story.html

Different types of quail cover

The northern bobwhite is the native quail species found throughout Arkansas. These predominantly ground-dwelling birds are primarily found in areas that contain large amounts of edge habitat. Edges are boundaries between different habitat types or land use practices.

The home range of a quail covey can cover as little as 20 acres up to 160 acres. In that home range, quail require various types of habitat, including: escape cover, nesting habitat, brood rearing habitat and feeding and loafing areas.

So, what is a “covey headquarters” and how does it fit into the equation for great quail habitat? Covey headquarters are patches of escape cover with dense, shrubby canopy cover and little ground-level vegetation. Headquarters are used by quail on a daily basis to provide protection against severe weather and predators along with resting and loafing areas.

The percentage of the landscape designated as covey headquarters can range up to 20 percent of the total area, with the remainder set aside for the other habitat components needed by quail. Covey headquarters should be provided in clusters of not less than 30 feet by 50 feet blocks of shrubs that are not more than 150 feet apart, which will allow the quail to have quick access to their escape cover if the need arises.

Shrubs that serve well for this habitat component include: wild American and Chickasaw plum, fragrant and smooth sumac, rough-leaved dogwood, deciduous holly, cockspur hawthorn and American beautyberry. Plum thickets are an excellent example of quail convey headquarters and occur naturally on many properties across Arkansas.

Existing Thickets — Protect and manage any existing plum or other shrubby thickets on your property. These shrubby thickets can be improved to better benefit quail. If invasive grass species take over the ground-level cover, those grasses should be treated with a herbicide, timing depending on whether they are warm season or cool season. This will re-open that ground-level cover making it easier for quail to move throughout the headquarters. Also, any over-hanging or adjacent trees to the plum thicket should be removed from the area. This strategy will help reduce predation from overhead predators and also provide a clear flight path for quail to escape from ground predators.

Creating Thickets — If thickets do not occur naturally on your land, they can be established by planting seeds, seedlings or container-grown shrubs. For beautyberry, dogwood and sumac, spacing should be on a 3 foot by 6 foot spacing. Other shrubs can be planted on a 5 foot by 8 foot spacing. Just remember, thickets intended for use as covey headquarters should be established in edge habitat, those areas of transition between habitat types and in open fields lacking shrubby cover. After you have identified the best location for your headquarters, the existing vegetation should be controlled using an herbicide before you plant the shrubs. This will promote the growth of your new plantings as well as open the ground-level cover to facilitate quail movement throughout the new headquarters.

Headquarter Maintenance — Whether you have existing or newly planted covey headquarters, you should avoid damaging these when conducting other habitat management practices on your property, i.e. prescribed burning or disking. Herbicides can be used to control invasive grasses within and around your thickets; however care should be used to avoid spraying shrubs. Also, livestock should be excluded from these areas to maintain the integrity of the thicket as a quail covey headquarters.

Source: http://www.magnoliareporter.com/sports/individual_team_sports/article_3631b0d2-d4ca-11e2-999a-001a4bcf887a.html

Time-Traveling Turkeys

Free Birds

In the States, Thanksgiving is practically synonymous with turkey. Any mention of the holiday automatically conjures images of a big, juicy, oven-roasted bird, and vice versa. Even vegetarians aren’t immune to the association — plenty of them nod to tradition with products like Tofurkey.

But as pleasant as it is for us humans to gorge ourselves on tryptophan-laced poultry, you can’t blame turkeys for wishing they could remove themselves from the menu. In Relativity’s Free Birds, two of them finally get the chance to do just that. Reggie (Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson) find a time machine to take them back to the very first Thanksgiving, where they attempt to save their kind once and for all.  To watch the first trailer, press HERE.

BuyingPoultry.com – A Kickstarter Campaign

A free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of finding alternatives to factory farming.

CHOOSE BETTER.

Have you ever looked at a food label and thought, “Sounds good, but I have no idea what this means?” You’re not alone!

With so many food choices and claims out there, it’s hard to know where to get real information. What do Cage FreeFree RangeNatural, and Organic even mean? Is there a difference?

Our food choices have a huge impact on the world. People are purchasing food with increasing concern for ethical and social issues. Consumers are demanding more locally, humanely, and sustainably-produced animal products and plant-based alternatives.

That’s where BuyingPoultry.com comes in!

For the past four years, we’ve been working with high-welfare poultry farmers and animal welfare experts to create BuyingPoultry.com—a free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of choosing the most humane and sustainable poultry products and plant-based alternatives.

Buying Poultry will list every poultry producer and poultry certification in the United Sates and also tell you how they treat their animals, their employees, and the environment.

With BuyingPoultry.com, you’ll be able to see who’s best and who’s worst in the U.S. and in your local grocery store. We’ll list what each company can do better and make it easy for you to add your voice to the cause. We’ll also give you information about the best plant-based alternatives and where you can find them.

Best of all, it’ll be FREE and easy to access on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. 

Seems like a great idea, right? We think so too.

But creating a free tool that is comprehensive, authoritative, and functional isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have an amazing team of animal welfare experts and digital ninjas assembled to make Buying Poultry a reality.

Now all we need is your support!

Poultry Diseases Up Close – Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease Virus is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds. Clinical signs are extremely variable depending on the strain of virus, species and age of bird, concurrent disease, and preexisting immunity. Four broad clinical syndromes are recognized by scientists. They are Viscerotropic velogenic, Neurotropic velogenic, Mesogenic, and Lentogenic. NDV is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. NDV can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry. Fortunately NDV has not infected domestic chicken flocks in the United States since the last outbreak was eradicated in 1974.

NDV is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds’ droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. NDV spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.

High concentrations of the NDV are found in birds’ bodily discharges; therefore, the disease can be spread easily by mechanical means. Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one.

NDV can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds’ feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

NDV affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. Symptoms are very variable depending on the strain of virus, species of bird, concurrent disease and preexisting immunity. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:

  • Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing 
  • Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea 
  • Nervousness, depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis 
  • Partial to complete drop in egg production and thin-shelled eggs 
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck
  • Sudden death

Any animals showing symptoms of Newcastle disease should be quarantined immediately. New birds should also be vaccinated before being introduced to a flock. An inactivated viral vaccine is available, as well as various combination vaccines.

Source: http://www.avianbiotech.com/diseases/newcastle.htm

Ducking security

Security at the White House is obviously of paramount importance and usually impenetrable.   Usually!  A family of ducks however, have slipped in though a gap in the fence and even managed to get the armed guards help them squeeze through.

A family of ducks approaches the White House gates where they walked right through on to the President's lawn with the help of White House security guards

The mother duck decided to take a small detour, jumping through a gap in the fence into the White House grounds leaving her ducklings stranded on the other side.  But security were soon on the scene, granted the ducklings security clearance and helped them reunite with their Mum on the other side.

A mother duck and her ducklings who managed to make it past the heavily guarded White House gates stroll the grounds

After that, the duck family took a stroll in the White House grounds and have decided to stay put for the time being.  The President’s new neighbors are currently residing on the White House’s North Lawn fountain.  And who can blame them?  It’s got to be one of the safest places in the world!

Police now involved in Muscovy duck killing

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. —Police officers are looking into outrage over the massacre of Muscovy ducks at a pond in Ormond Beach.

The homeowners association hired a company, Trutech, to remove the nuisance ducks a Trails subdivision pond, but the removal horrified residents.

Residents said the ducks were shot with pellets and left in the pond to drown.

“To see something struggle to keep its head up so he wouldn’t drown and just going back in the water, I mean that’s just, it’s just terrible,” John Schreiner said.

Ormond Beach police sent criminal complaints against the two workers to the State Attorney’s Office

Residents shared pictures of ducks dead or dying in the water, their carcasses littered the shoreline.

They said not only did the ducks suffer, Trutech employees didn’t bag the animals afterward, but just left them on the grass and in the pond.

A company spokesman refuses to say whether the workers were disciplined or whether they are making any changes to removal procedures. In an email, they did say they followed Fish and Wildlife Commission protocol.

“We are cooperating with the Ormond Beach Animal Services and the Ormond Beach Police Department as they evaluate the ducks’ removal,” the company said in a statement.

Outraged witnesses told us they don’t need time to evaluate anything.

“You want to move a duck or ducks in this case, that’s fine, but to show up here early in the morning and kill them and just leave them here, is just shocking,” John Griffin said.

It is unclear whether the State Attorney’s Office will file charges.

Source: http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/volusia-county/police-now-involved-in-muscovy-duck-killing/-/12983450/20283938/-/9idant/-/index.html#ixzz2UDLqMYUr