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Posts Tagged ‘pet chickens’

I know what you’re all going to say, and you’re right, we probably do have the most spoilt chickens on the planet.

They’re fed the best food we can afford to give them, from whole heads of cabbage to sourdough pancakes to oven roasted tuna. And because we’re running a chicken spa, they also get a custom dust bath every couple of days.

With the recent wet weather, it’s been hard for the girls to find a spot in the chook dome to take their dust baths – an essential grooming process, necessary to keep them clean and parasite-free.  So…we’ve half-filled an old recycling bin with carefully sifted dry dirt, and this goes into their coop every afternoon for an hour or two.

It’s hysterically funny to watch them – they line up and take turns in the tub,  rolling around in the dirt and flicking it under their feathers to clean them.  They end up coated in a fine sheen, which makes them look as if they’ve been dusted in talcum powder.

Despite being brutally windy yesterday, the sun was quite bright, and I managed  to record this clip of Francesca undertaking her daily ablutions. I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into poultry preening…

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It’s now been nearly a fortnight since we brought our chickens home.

In that time, they’ve plumped up a little..

…and today they actually agreed to stand still and have their portrait shots taken.

They’re astonishingly intelligent birds.

In the short time they’ve been here, they’ve learnt to fly up to a high roost, eat greenery, and scratch for worms.  They recognise both Pete and I, and come running whenever we approach, clucking and begging for food. They’ve also established a clear pecking order…

I adore their distinct personalities.  One hen is particularly bonkers, and spends much of her time pecking at the laying box.  I’m sure she’s trying to communicate with us in Morse code. Tap-tap. Tap-tap-ti-tap.

Another steadfastly refuses to follow the flock – she feeds in a different area to the others, chases her food more vigorously, and has her own unique method for ascending to the 5′ roost – she takes aim, leaps straight up like a Harrier Jump Jet and flies between the slats of the roosting platform, tucking her wings in at the last minute to fit through the small opening.  One day we will probably have to rescue a wedged chicken from the roost.

After laying four eggs in quick succession, the hens have now completely stopped – a common occurrence after they’ve been transported.  And to be fair, we have substantially changed their lifestyle – they now live outside and eat food scraps, lots of weeds and plants, and worms and snails that they dig up from the garden.  We still supplement their feed with grain mix, but it’s no longer their sole source of food.

To try and encourage them to lay, Pete put two plastic golf balls in the nesting box – the sight of an “egg” is supposed to inspire them to add their own eggs to the clutch.  Our hens simply dragged the balls out and played chook soccer with them.  Sigh…

One of the cutest things they do – and I’d like to think it’s a sign that they’re happy and well fed – is have an afternoon siesta.  After lunch, they all snuggle up together in the middle of the enclosure, make a few contented clucking noises, then settle down for a little kip.  I took this photo today, as they were settling in for rest time – it reminded me of a group of ladies gossiping at the hairdressers…

In the week or so that they’ve been here, they’ve almost completely emptied our garden of weeds.  Not that we have “weeds” anymore – now  all unwanted plants and pests are viewed as chicken feed.  They’re brilliant at getting rid of onionweed  – I’ve watched them meticulously digging out the bulbs one at a time.  And their current favourite food is fresh buckwheat, which they’ll happily allow us to handfeed to them.

As you can tell, we’re really enjoying our chickens!

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