Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Pecking Order

It's been a long time since I've posted to this blog, and I know I should probably just close up shop. But my chickens just keep showing me things. Not all of them very nice. Today's lesson: the true meaning of: "pecking order," "ruling the roost" and "birds of a feather flock together." Not pretty.

This week we are integrating a new flock of six teenagers, a mix of Araucanas and Barred Rocks. I'm looking forward to having a few new Barreds, because I love how their look as they mature: their bosomy bearing and black and white toned feathers. They're very matronly and New Englandy. Stocky, sturdy, no nonsense. They are the Sisters of Notre Dame of chickens, only without the rosary beads.

My friend Pat got them to teenagerhood for us, and we brought them home Sunday night. From the minute they arrived, they wanted to hang with the big hens, who, of course, wanted nothing to do with them.

I think I heard a little Barred run up to a rather large Araucana and say, "WAZZZUP MAH BITCHES?"

Needless to say, that did not go over well. Anyway, I've kept them separate for a few days but last night, at roosting time, I decided to try some integration. But the little ones all tried to crowd up on the roost and the big Araucana would snap at them. I mean, nasty, Jaws-type snaps.

It was like a Harry Potter movie, this gigantic hen snipping and snapping at these cowering little teenage chickens. They'd take a licking from her, hop down, then pace back and forth on the ground looking up on the roost for a hole in the lineup where they'd be safe.

I stood outside the coop an hollered at the Araucana to BE NICE! She pulled back when I did this, and eventually everybody tired of the whole thing and they settled in. in.

But these hens are brutal, and I hope we don't lose a teenager in the coming week.

Any advice about peaceful new flock integration?