Brooding On

Chicken Weirdness

Our chicken tractor is currently filled to maximum occupancy (plus one.)  Prior to this week, it housed only 4 laying hens.  Then, we added the 5 Dominiques that we got as chicks and raised alongside the meat chickens and 4 Buff Orpington's, which we'd intended to be meat birds.  Maximum occupancy really should be 12, but the last of the Buffs we intended to slaughter Saturday morning was so scrawny that she'd be nearly worthless as meat, so we added her to the pen as well.  (We talked briefly about pulling out one of the other 3 we'd already added to the laying pen, but that just seemed cruel.) 
These are the veteran layers.  Notice how they're all at the door to greet me?  That's because they know what the newbie hens don't know yet:  I almost always come to the pen bearing treats!

These Buffs have been getting picked on, so they stay up on the ladder all day long so as not to get pecked.  In fact, one of the veteran layers laid her egg in the grass yesterday rather than in the nesting box, presumably because these Buffs were blocking entrance to the chicken house.

And, this one just hangs out in the house all day.  Weird.

At night, chickens tend to want to roost, or perch on a limb or bar, like we have available for them inside the chicken house.  This is a natural instinct, but because the meat tractor has no roosting poles, these newbie hens haven't had a chance to hone their roosting skills.  

Here you can see how all 4 of our older chickens are roosting, but the new gals haven't figured it out.  The first night, I picked the Dominiques up and placed them on the roosting pole.  Several of them fell off, though, because they had such poor balance.  Their balance is improving, though, because they can now get up the ladder, a task which proved daunting to them their first day in this tractor.

So, the equilibrium of the flock is definitely off right now.  Hopefully, over the next few days and weeks, the gals can all figure out how to get along with one another, and the newbies can get settled in to their new digs.  It won't be long, and they should begin laying!