Pecking order politics

posted in: Chickens, Gardening, Simple living | 0

So, I need to update on our Broody Hen. The cage treatment worked a treat, and she was ready to come out and be a normal chicken again on Tuesday. However, even though we were very careful to keep her with her other coop mates during her “confinement”, we still ran into some rather unexpected tense problems on letting her out.

Apparently Rebekah now believes that she is above Ruth on the pecking order, and they both have the battle scars to prove it.

Here is poor Ruth, back in her cage looking the worse for wear. It totally freaked me out, but it’s all mostly superficial around her comb and face.

Don’t be too worried out by all the pink stuff, I had to go buy some antiseptic type stuff from the feed store, and this is supposed to deter pecking at the wounds. I guess it worked, because they haven’t been bothered by the others. Bek gave worse than she got I’m afraid.

So, obviously we had a dilemma because introducing two fighting chickens is a lot harder than breaking a broody one. Yesterday we gave Ruth her own fenced off part of yard, which had an “air-lock” between her and the others. Everyone could see each other, but they couldn’t reach through the fence. Half of the damage you see above was inflicted through the cage walls AFTER the fight was first broken up. My bad for not taking the cage out of the run immediately.

So, late in the evening, about half an hour before their normal bed time, we started the introduction process. We were keen to get it sorted rather than prolong it any further, so three of us stood over the whole drawn-out production. Although there was a few attempts to fight, we did our best to keep the peace without interfering with the pecking order that needed to be set. We were trying to be good peace-keepers – neutral but no-one goes home hurt. Eventually they all went voluntarily to perch in the coop for bedtime. DH and I stood outside the coop for a good half an hour, holding our breath the whole time, waiting for the four of them to settle down to sleep. It felt like a major success when they did, after much preening, rearranging and getting down for one last feed or drink. Sheesh!!

Today they all seem to be settling in to the new regime. Ruth beats a dignified retreat whenever Rebekah is around, but they seem to be ok with it all, and apart from a bit of showing off, Bek knows that Ruth is in her place and doesn’t push it any further. So we are currently counting this as a victory, as she is no longer broody and things seem to be sorting themselves out. I’m spending a lot of time down in the run today just keeping an eye on things, but they really need to work it out for themselves.

I had to share this last collage with you. Whilst keeping watch on things this morning, I got to witness the most hysterical game of Chicken Twister I’ve ever seen. You thought trying to squeeze two of these full-sized birds on a nest was funny – 3 was a scream! But it all turned out in the end, and all three eventually laid their eggs.

So, here’s hoping that all in the coop will be quiet for the rest of the week. We’ve had enough drama for a while with these silly girls – so much for the simple life!!

 Happy Crafting - Cassie.

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