Saturday, August 22, 2015
The Continuing Chicken Adventure Saga
While I was working a twelve hour shift yesterday four more hens were brought over and placed inside the chicken coop/stall. These are older hens who have slowed down egg production a bit that the orchard owner gave to us. They are big girls and around 3 years old or so.
The four new hens stayed inside the large pet carrier inside the coop all day so there would be at least a little getting to know each other time before they were turned loose. Just about roosting time I went down and opened the door to the pet carrier and allowed the hens to begin mingling.
The plan seems to have worked fairly well. I know I should leave em separated a bit longer but that isn't really possible the way things have worked out. My reasoning right now is that the various small groups coming in are all in new surroundings and coming from different pecking orders anyway so they won't form a big team against one or two individulas and hurt them.
One of the Bigger Black Hens immediately took charge though and within a few minutes there was no denying the fact that she was the leader of the new coop group.
I watched them until they all settled in for the night to make sure the new hens weren't going to fight and besides a bit of surprisingly gentle pecking there was little real argument towards the new rules. The first group of younger hens all seemed to pretty much acknowledge the four new Black hens were taking precedence. My assumption was that the five younger hens were fairly low in the pecking order before I got them anyway and they haven't been their own little group long enough to change their attitude much yet.
The one Black Hen did have a few squabbles with the larger Red hen but it seemed it was more a champion fight to settle the group dynamics and not for individual leader.
The Roosters of course are going to add their own interesting twist to this newly forming dynamic when I let the hens out I imagine. The roosters have come up and peeked inside the coop a few times talking to the hens so they all know the others are around now.
We are still waiting on three more hens from another source tomorrow and I am looking to get four more to round out the hen numbers to 16. I am hoping as I said the newness and such will allow for much easier introductions. The first test seems to have been a success.
This morning I noticed the dog had moved one of the concrete blocks a bit. He still kinda wants some chicken. That is going to have to be dealt with. I can already see there are some coop improvements and changes I want to make once I begin letting the girls free range. I don't want to go in there right now banging around and digging unless I have to yet.
My theory about adding in the four older Black hens is that these girls will know how to handle the two remaining roosters. The rooster they had to deal with at their old home was a big old boy himself and I watched them a few times while over checking my bees and they didn't take any shit from him either. I noticed more than once a black hen chasing the old rooster off when he was a bit too insistent with his attentions. That's the kind of experience our newly forming flock needs. Since they come from a large flock themselves I also figured they would be able to handle this new flock as the top of the pecking order as it forms and shakes the social issues out.
Oh we also got three more eggs this morning.
The Long awaited Small-Hold chicken flock is finally coming about.
Since we got another 3 inches of rain this morning I guess I am going to work inside the barn keeping an eye on the new hens, predator proofing and arranging things as best I can without disturbing the forming pecking order any more than I have to.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!