grandson helping wake up the chicks

grandson helping wake up the chicks

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken Politics

Now that we had figured out the problem to the egg laying (too many cocks in the house, for real), and eliminated the extra roosters, things were moving along nicely. Joan Rivers and Betty White were each giving us an egg every one or two days. And, we decided to name our rooster following a friend's suggestion. He was quite a lady's man, of sorts, so we'd call him Bill as in Bill Clinton. Or, "Dollar Bill" as Gary likes to refer to him.

I was checking on the new hens quite regularly (at least twice a day) and realized that the new hens were being harassed: not by the rooster this time, but by Joan Rivers and Betty White! I guess they really wanted to let the new girls know who was boss...and they were doing a very good job.

Our new hens: Lucy, Ethel, and Cher were very hesitant to come out of the hen house. When they would come out, Cher (the barred rock) made herself at home with both groups of hens. That was amazing. It seemed like Dollar Bill had taken quite a liking to her, and would often dance for her to try to get her attention. She really wasn't interested, and would squawk at him and go on her way. He was persistent, though, and eventually won her over.

On the flip side, Lucy (the smallest hen of the group) and Ethel, had not quite found their niche. They would both hang out together and cautiously make their way out if they saw that I had brought a treat. As they ventured out, the other hens (Betty White, especially) went after the new girls and pulled at their feathers to shoo them away. It worked! And, it really infuriated me even though I knew they were doing what nature told them to, and were establishing a "pecking order".

During the following weekend, I decided to try to coax the new girls out and intervene in this natural process, to ensure the stress-free environment for them. So, I got up early and trekked out to the hen house to check out the happenings. I found Dollar Bill, Joan and Betty out in the fenced run but no sign of the new girls.

As I entered the hen house, I saw Lucy, Ethel, and Cher on the floor of the hen house eating and drinking. Were they afraid to eat and drink when the old birds were there? It sure seemed that way. What was I going to do?

I spent a couple of hours out watching the birds and trying to observe the nuances of their interactions. Then I went inside and did some other chores, and checked in again every few hoursl Low and behold, I realized I really didn't have time to spend all day outside watching the birds and babysitting them to be sure they behaved themselves.

So, ultimately, I put vitamins in the water, gave them treats in separate areas and let Bill, Joan, and Betty out of the penned area for periods of time each day to give the new girls some stress-free time to graze.  Enough of the chicken politics....I had to move on and hope they'd all find their place. And, guess what? They did.

1 comment:

  1. I love the chicken names! Bill has a thing for Cher?! You need a "Hillary" chicken to keep all those girls in line! I am enjoying reading about your adventures with the chickens. Good job!


chicken house1

chicken house1
Our masterpiece ready for the chickens