Chicken Antics

by - February 18, 2018

Our poor little Betty White is terrified of the older hens, and probably should be. Ruby and Tweedledum charge her whenever they enter a space and spot her. They usually just strike once and move on. There's not been much feather loss, and there has been no blood, but Betty will see one of the big birds coming and hide her head in a corner. When the big ladies leave the run to lay eggs or go into their backyard, Betty and Penny go to town on the "Flock Block". (Purina Flock Block is a whole grain enrichment supplement for chickens, other poultry and game birds. Encourages natural pecking instincts and contains oyster shell and grit.) This treat is positioned under the the ladder perch, which enables them to have some cover and a quick place to hide if their feasting gets interrupted. I make sure to provide several sources of water, food and treats so that all the girls have access and don't get cut off by aggressive behavior.

On Friday I ran to Habitat Restore to look for old windows to make a cold frame, and I found a dog kennel with an open bottom that was perfect to put in the run to isolate bully chickens. I brought home the kennel and initially put Ruby in it with some food and water. Of all the birds, I would say Ruby seems the most driven by instinct... and that instinct is curiosity and a territorial compulsion to chase off "others", whether they be our cat June, songbirds or fluffy Betty. She wasn't too pleased with the kennel at first.

The other ladies were equally confused.

And then, Betty White missed the entire point. When I let Ruby out of the kennel, she ran off to hide.

Betty is so eager to get away from the big girls, that she tends to get herself stuck in awkward positions. She also got stuck under the lip of the sandbox. I've since moved the kennel away from the side of the run so she has a narrow hallway to slide through and stuck logs between the side of the sandbox and the run.

The kennel takes up a lot of space in the run, and it's really not needed, but I found that the bale of hay sitting outside of the run was sprouting grass. I set the hay on top of the kennel, and right away the hens were happy to explore.

And where is Luna in the midst of all this drama? Why she's laying eggs. This morning we saw here below the next box on the floor of the coop in a very nesty squat. Both nest boxes were occupied, so she did what she's inclined to do - stay on the floor.  Soon we heard the song of a proud hen and discovered Luna was the one singing! She hopped up and marched out the coop door to the run, but the egg was glued to her feathers. 

This explains so much. We've occasionally found a little egg in the run, and it makes sense now that someone just had a little mishap. It's not that different from leaving the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to the shoe.

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