Everyone who incubates knows how nice it is to have an autoturner. If you're at work and can't turn the eggs, no worries, the turner's doing it. It can also turn the eggs more often than most people would ever be able to. And turning eggs is important - studies show that a broody hen turns her eggs upwards of 50 times a day!
Both of my Brinseas have autoturners that I purchased for them and they are great to have. However, about three weeks ago, just after I had ordered some eggs, disaster struck. My big incubator, which was thankfully empty at the time save for my cat's fluids, had its autoturner break. The small plastic arm that holds the turning mechanism to the turner motor broke right into two, and the incubator lurched forward and pitched itself onto the table it sits on, turning almost completely upside down. If there had been eggs in it, they all likely would have broken. Needless to say, the turner was no longer working.
Since I had eggs on the way, I tried to do a quick fix with some plastic glue, but it did not take. Defeated, I decided to contact Brinsea and hopefully get a new turner before my eggs came in, since it is still under its three year warranty. This is where things got frustrating.
I started by sending them an email on a Thursday night. By the following Tuesday, I still hadn't heard back. My eggs had come in and gone into the incubator at this point. I had put them in my smaller one that I use as a hatcher because it still had a working autoturner - except now it didn't, because that one picked this time to fail too. That one is out of warranty and I was out of luck on with it, but since I use that incubator usually only as a hatcher, it wasn't a big deal except now I had to hand turn until my new turner from Brinsea came in.
Tuesday before I headed out to work in the afternoon, I gave Brinsea a call since they still hadn't gotten back to me. I was informed that they would not send me a new turner right away even though I needed it, but that I had to send mine back first. This annoyed me because that is not at all what good customer service is or what we do where I work. If a customer receives a product that breaks, they get their replacement item sent right away, especially if they need it immediately.
But I didn't have a choice. I needed the turner and the only way I was going to get it was to send mine back. So I headed off to work with plans to send it out the next day.
The very next morning, I finally got a reply to my email. It was not a good one. In the email I had explained the situation and asked what I needed to do. The only response I received was "Did you send it back yet?" No acknowledgement of any of my questions and just the assumption that I knew what to do even though in my email I made it clear I didn't. I thought perhaps the person I spoke to on the phone had made a note in my account but why then send an email the very next morning demanding to know if I had sent it back? The email I sent in reply may have been a little terse.
I sent the turner out via priority mail the next day and it arrived by Saturday. After they had had it about four days, I decided to call to check on the status. I was told it was "getting ready for testing so that they can find the problem and make repairs". Four days there and it hadn't even started to be repaired. Plus, you didn't need to test it, the problem was a very obvious broken part. I reiterated that I needed it ASAP because I had eggs incubating and was told they "didn't expect to keep it very long".
The next week I called again to check on it on Thursday. I was told it was finally repaired and was "sitting on the go back shelf" ready to be shipped out. I was told that "it may ship out tomorrow". After all this and they couldn't even promise that they would ship out my fixed turner the next day even though it was ready to go!
That was last Thursday. As of today, a week later, I still have heard nothing from them and I still don't have my turner back. The eggs that I ordered right when the turner broke are now in lockdown and I had to do the whole incubation hand turning. It has been over three weeks since this all began.
In summary, I love my Brinsea incubators, but their customer service sucks.
There are some terrible people in the world; it's a fact that everyone knows. Chicken owners are not exempt from falling into this group. Last Tuesday I had an encounter with just such an individual. Not with the person themselves but with their chickens, whom they threw away like trash when they were no longer useful.
A coworker told me about a group of tiny chickens that had suddenly shown up on the property across from her house. They were left with no food, water, or protection from the cold, wind, snow and predators. In short, they were left to starve to death, die from exposure, or be eaten by predators by an owner who no longer had use for them.
When she asked me if I would take them, I said yes. I gave her some chicken feed and they were so hungry they were easy to lure into a crate. From there, she passed them off to me.
There are seven in all, and they are all OEGBs - Old English Game Bantams. There were two roosters and five hens. Upon examination their toenails were twisted and overgrown, as if they were never allowed on the ground to scratch and wear them down. One rooster had spurs that were about to grow back into his legs. They all had leg bands, as if they were a breeding group. And they all have a bad to severe case of scaly leg mites.
The bands prove that these birds at one time served a purpose for someone, and now that whatever that purpose was had come to an end, the owner opted not to try to give them away or even to cull them, but to dump them and let them die a horrible death.
I wasn't about to let that happen. I moved my old rabbit hutch out of storage and set it up for them. It's a little cramped, but it will have to do until spring as they need to be quarantined away from my flock until then in case they are harboring something more sinister than leg mites. I set them up a little roost and got them set with food and water.
Then I tackled the other problems. To treat the leg mites and any other parasites they may have I dosed them with Ivermectin. Then I set about taking care of their nails and the rooster's spurs. Here is a before shot of the rooster with the severely overgrown spurs:
As you can see his spurs and nails were very overgrown. The hens' nails were no better. You can also see the damage done by the scaly leg mites. Sadly, this case was not even the most severe out of all of them. After some quick work with pet nail trimmers this was the result:
After all my work with them I left them alone to settle in and enjoy their nails being trimmed and the wormer doing its work. It will take quite a while for their feet to return to normal, even after the mites die off. I will probably end up coating their feet and legs in Vaseline to help speed the healing process by softening things up and allowing the damaged scales to fall off. It seems my help has been appreciated, because two days ago I found this in the hutch:
They still have a long way to go, but this is a sure sign of recovery. If all goes well they will get their own coop in the spring and will be able to live out their lives in comfort and protection, a far cry from the death their former owner intended them.