Monday, October 6, 2008

Blending Families

Ok, this is hard enough for me to think about, let alone write about. Two nights ago, while they were listless and cooperative (chickens are like this during the night), Jamey moved the pullets from the chicken tractor and placed them in the hen house with the older flock. And locked the doors.

Deep breath. I know that these ladies must determine the pecking order. It is how they were made. And, I know that in a month or so, we will harvest some of these birds. I'm ok with that, too. I just have a really hard time when animals are cruel to each other (I have an even much harder time when people are cruel to each other). In order to teach the younger flock that this is their new home (they were getting too big for the tractor), they will be locked in with the older flock for a week.

Here they are, sequestered to the roost room, by the older ladies. There's dust in the air because of all the bullying going on.

I'm sure these younger birds would love to be out in the run (which they have access to while being 'locked in'), but the older birds have quarantined them in here, because they want access to the run, the food, laying boxes, water, food scraps, fresh air, sun light, etc. Oh, to be persecuted.

To add insult to injury (literally and figuratively), occasionally, an older hen with come into the roost room and raise a ruckus. She'll chase them around, stirring up the dust, and when she's had enough, return to the better section of the house.

Doesn't she look nasty?

Here is the older flock, enjoying senior privileges. But, do not worry, yesterday I spent a half hour or so taking fresh vegetable scraps and grass clippings to the pullets, throwing a walnut in the direction of the chicken doorway whenever an older hen tried to break up their party. And, this morning, after I mowed, I raked up the fresh grass clippings for them and Jamey contributed a huge sunflower head full of seeds.

Interestingly, Marv, the older rooster (two of our meat birds are roosters, but very timid) doesn't seem phased by this. I think he's enjoying letting the women sort things out. And he may even be looking forward to the day when everyone gets along. We did just increase the size of his harem, you know.

Oh, I do hope they all get along one day...and I hope Friday comes quickly. I hate to see them all cooped up (No pun intended. Seriously.). Pin It


  1. Please let me know how this turns out. I recently (3 wks ago) acquired 2 barred rock hens who were 1 yr old. This is great and I'm glad to provide them with a home but I'd like to have 6-8 hens total so I may have to follow your lead and raise some chicks and (hard swallow) "integrate" them when the time comes.

    Already "Pinkie" is the yard bully, giving Elsie (the larger hen) a bad time as she struggles to get up into the roosting area. I think she's sensitive because I named her after her own posterior which was plucked bare by her efforts to clean out a stuck mess (which I have since taken care of).


  2. downtownjen,
    I just visited Phoenix Permaculture Guild's site- what a great resource and support you all are to each other! As of today, the two flocks are living in the same building (at night- they are let out to free range during the day) but stay in very separate groups. We're not sure if this will change over time or not. We'll keep you posted:-).


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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