Friday, July 12, 2013

As the World Turns + General Hospital

I've been accumulating photos for a chicken post, but the subject matter has been metamorphosing all week! I don't know if things have stabilized quite yet, but if I wait any longer I'll have a photo album instead of a blog post.

First of all, I've been getting one to three eggs from the pullet pen every day, most of them laid in one corner. One morning, though, I found one on the board covering the sheep hay feeder:
Fortunately, I found it before it rolled off!
It's time to move these girls in with the mature flock!

One morning – I don't remember which one – I found a pullet in the sheep part of the fold, tucked down between the wall and the five-gallon water bucket. I figured she'd escaped from the pullet pen (it's happened a few times) and had then been pestered by curious ovines into hiding.

It's definitely time to move these girls in with the mature flock!

Wednesday morning, I found a girl deep in a corner of the pullet pen, her head through the chainlink. Wondering if she had somehow gotten stuck, I went over to check on her. She backed out of the corner, only to be attacked by one of the other pullets. This was the first aggressive behavior I had seen in the pullet pen; heretofore they had all gotten along so sweetly. But they ARE bigger now, and at least some are laying, the pen is small and there are no nest boxes....

It's past time to move these girls in with the mature flock!

I picked up the pecked-on hen, and she sat calmly on my wrist.
Then another one jumped up on my leg, which made Perch (Brian says that's the name of Miss Hen-Pecked) nervous. So Brian took Perch from me, and offered her some food.

 She was hungry, no doubt because she's been trying to avoid trouble.

It's definitely past time to move these girls in with the mature flock!

Yesterday morning Brian headed down to do chores before me. Before I could get out the door he came rushing back in, calling in a distressed voice. Perch was in his arms, bare and bloody on the back of her head and neck. I called Laura, my mentor for many things, for the best course of action. From my limited arsenal of options, we decided that some Derma Gel I had on hand would be the best treatment – that, and putting Perch in protective custody. So Brian set up side-by-side cages for Perch and Goldilocks (who is low hen in the mature flock pecking order) on the grass in the shade, with food and water.
Last night, Rick got busy and finished the new chicken yard enough to be secure.

It was finally time to move the pullets in with the mature flock!!

Things are going relatively well this morning. Perch is still in protective custody; the pullets are sticking together, trying to avoid the dominant hens, and getting the lay of the land. Interpersonal relationships; they are the blessing and bane of every species, it seems!

That's the chicken report from . . .


Tombstone Livestock said...

Aren't the chickens aware that they are taking up some of your Tour de Fleece time slot..... I keep thinking I want chickens again, then all I have to do is blog hop. I have enough critters and projects to keep me busy as it is.

Retired Knitter said...

Oh my. I had no idea that chickens would pick on each other. I assumed only humans were that stupid with each other.

Oh, wait! Many years ago I had 4 cats. They picked on each other as well. But in my house pets are stuck ... we make do ... no one goes on to another home - once you are in my home, you are staying - so for 10 years (at least) we had an armed camp - with some "cat family member" being isolated at times. It was a tough 10 years! But I am pretty stubborn!

So now it is only chickens, cats and humans THAT are stupid! :-)

Michelle said...

That's the way it is for me and ducks. I've always liked them but never had them; blog-hopping scares me away from them!

Michelle said...

Sue, horses, sheep and goats can also be very mean to each other. Many species establish a "pecking order," and it is often an ugly – and very occasionally even fatal – process. Sin has affected all creation, I'm afraid!

Thirteen Sheep (Or More) said...

Social behavior is so interesting! You could add a little feather, one of the very soft, small ones, to your spinning. Just randomly. One or two per bobbin. Sort of like a "spinning journal" . But then, you'd have to make little coats for the chickens...... I think better go find my coffee and take the dog for his run. :)

Anonymous said...

Well I agree with Tombstone Livestock that the chickens are taking you away from Tour de Fleece! I also now know after this post that I don't think I am going to have chickens after all! I mean I know that out in the wild nature can be even more vicious than in the human world, I shudder when I think about that but I guess I just need a gentle reminder from some quality blog hopping to be kept from forgetting! :D I think I will stick with bunnies and kitties:D
Hugs and have a lovely weekend,
Beth P

Mary Ann said...

Boy, isn't that the truth! I have had to blend in so many times, and it always takes a few days of watchfulness. I'm glad Brian is such a help to you!

farmlady said...

Oh my. How many times we have introduced new hens to the old flock. There is always an adjustment and sometimes you have to intervene. Sometimes, "protective custody" is all you can do for a while.The old hens can be brutal when their "pecking order" is thrown into chaos. I love my chickens but this transition time for new hens is not my favorite part of raising them.
The pullets will stick together and soon there will be relative peace in the chicken coop.