Oct. 16th, 2011

frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)

Picked up four ex-battery hens from a driveway in Rubery yesterday lunchtime. Got them home on public transport in two cat carriers, which was a bit of a mission, and into the run on my allotment. Two came out of the carriers immediately, saw all the straw and space, and promptly went into a catatonic state of WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. The other two apparently decided that since the cat carriers offered more space, nesting material and privacy than they'd ever had in their lives before, they'd stay just where they were, thanks.

Eventually they all emerged and figured out the food and water, after first making a concerted effort to eat the wood shavings, dust bath and straw. One explored the coop, came out shouting, and made her bid for Top Hen, beating up each of the others in turn. She seems to have settled down today, though I put Vaseline on their combs (stops the attacker from getting a grip) and sprayed the bottom hen with anti-peck spray just in case.

They're not actually in terrible condition. Three are missing half their beaks, and they've all got bald spots, and the unfortunate hen at the bottom of the pecking order only uses one of her legs. But I was genuinely expecting worse. We'll see how they do.

The Top Hen, the only one with a proper-shaped beak, is Dippy. The next one down, with the frilly feathers, predatory walk and upright comb (all the others have their combs oversized and flopped over), is Trex. I assumed she'd be Top Hen, but she seems content with second place. She does like to stand up tall and give you assessing looks, though. Then there's Steg, with the mucky back feathers and enormous comb. Steg is curious about people, and is the one who'll run up and stare at you. And then there's Arky at the bottom, who gets most of Dippy's wrath because she's only got one working leg, so she's not as quick to get out of the way. But Trex seems to have decided she's Arky's bodyguard, and stands over her when she's resting and guards the door when she's in the nest box.

They've survived their first 24 hours, which is a Good Start. And I sincerely hope we've now sorted out the pecking order. I've had three eggs so far, which is impressive, given they're meant to be off lay and knackered.


frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)

August 2012


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