Thursday, 24 January 2013

My First day with our New Hens

At last! I get to spend all day with our new bantam hens.

My mister and I had bought 20+ metres of netting to fence in the hens and to give them more space, so we spent the morning putting it up.  You can see it in the background of the photo above, it's a green netting.  The posts were really easy to weave into the netting and then went into the ground easily.  The instructions called for 2 tent pegs to go in between each post, and that was the hardest bit, as our ground is quite pebbly underneath, but I got there in the end.
Next I cleaned out their hen house for the first time!  It felt nice to be laying out all that fresh bedding for my wee girls, kind of motherly.
I was able to pick up Matilda the Australorp and handle her.
Matilda our black Australorp bantam
And I got to pick up one of our Orpingtons and Mister held out a handful of wheat seeds and she ate them from his hand whilst being held! So very lovely and tame.
One of our blue Orpington bantams
I really want to get to know my hens and their characters, so today has been really useful.  I think I have a better idea of their characters now that I've spent the day out there with them and observing their interactions.
Our other blue orpington bantam

Here are some of my observations:

  • They spend almost all day scratching at the ground and pulling up all the moss from the grass, or just preening themselves
  • Once they're down the ramp they don't seem at all interested in going back into their house, they're all content to be out for the whole day
  • When my Mister tied cabbage leaves to the roof of the caged area they loved it and made little jumps upwards to reach it - so funny watching hens aim and spring jump upwards!  Matilda and the two Orpingtons were happily jumping up to peck the leaves together, but the Scots Dumpy stayed away and didn't come and peck at it until all three hens were out of the caged area and back into the wooden run.  She is either a scaredy cat or just antisocial?  Then Matilda went back out to join Scots Dumpy at the leaf but the Scots Dumpy decided she didn't want to share and went away to peck at the two Orpingtons, who successfully dodged her.
Matilda is eyeing up the cabbage leaf, ready to jump.
  • Noticed that the Scots Dumpy stands in the doorway that links the wooden run containing their house, food and water to the outdoor caged area.  This seems to intimidate the others and they very cautiously run to get past her.  Hmmm, she's a bit of a bossy one
  • Didn't see them eating any pellets from the Feeders - wonder why?
  • Saw the Scots Dumpy and Matilda drinking from the water at the same time as one another - so cosy
  • The Scots Dumpy pecked at the darker necked Orpington and she squawked and ran away, poor thing
  • The two Orpingtons always get out of the Scots Dumpy's path.  They even move away if she's just pecking the ground near them.  If they're pecking together on the ground the Scots Dumpy does seem to come over and want to peck where they've chosen and they just leave and let her take their place.  Seems a bit like a bully?  The Orpingtons don't react like that when Matilda comes towards them?
The best of friends!
  •  I've seen Matilda happily pecking alongside all of the other hens but the Scots Dumpy will not tolerate the two Orpingtons and only pecks beside Matilda or on her own.  She always sees off the Orpingtons, poor things.
  • No eggs today
  • I had to pick them all up and pop them onto their roost again.  When will they get the idea themselves?
  • Snowed after they went to bed - if it's still lying on the ground tomorrow, I wonder how they will react to it?

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