This is the second in a short season of posts to update you on my home and garden projects. You may have read recently about the completion (finally!) of my wallaby cross-stitch, and up next on the blog will be a post about early spring in the garden.
But for now, an update on our girls. We had some chicken sadness recently, losing our 2 newer girls to a dog attack. The owner, who we know from the neighbourhood, rehomed the dog within 24 hours. His family were devastated to lose their pet, and it was a truly awful day for us too.
Strange as it may sound, there’s a bit of work involved with ‘training’ new chickens, so we’ve been having a break. Past experience has taught that integration with the existing girls requires some effort. One girl invariably resents the intrusion of the newcomers, is particular about her personal space, and tries to dominate both the food and the perch at night. This requires close monitoring to ensure everyone is safe and getting enough food. In the evening I usually need to physically lift the little ones on to the perch as the others have a habit of pecking them as they try to get up. This unfortunately means that they peck me instead! The time I take doing this would otherwise be spent the next morning cleaning out the laying basket which the little ones find so comfy if left to their own devices….
Our girls free-range over a large area most days, so there is also effort required to ensure the new chickens know where ‘home’ is before they are allowed out. This requires a period inside the Hen Mahal, followed by some supervised free-ranging before they are let loose to roam with the others.
We also need to get them to the point where we can call them and they will race from wherever they happen to be to go back inside the Hen Mahal. (Sometimes with extra coaxing I might add!) Did you know that chickens recognise voices and also apparently faces? Now I can’t verify that they know us by sight, but they certainly know our voices. I talk to the chickens constantly when they are new, and this has worked a treat in getting a response to my yell of ‘CHICKENS!!’ when I want to put them away in the afternoon.
Our egg supply has obviously been halved following the incident. We will get some new girls soon. In the meantime the older 2 have all the space and spent winter crops to themselves.