Thursday, March 23, 2017
A Battery Hen Update
The hens from the battery farm have been home for nearly three weeks now, and I can say that it took most of the first two for them to settle in properly. Just this week they're starting to behave like normal chickens. Their personalities are showing, they're running to the door when they see me coming, and they're starting to form a pecking order.
The only thing they're not doing yet is laying. When we first brought them home, I was collecting eggs from them for the first few days. But then the eggs stopped, and for a good reason. The hens weren't eating much. They were pecking at the greens in their pen, but were completely disinterested in the grain I was offering them. They didn't even react when I threw or scattered it in front of them. They didn't know what it was.
Needless to say, as the days went on I was getting stressed about the lack of food they were consuming. These girls would require more energy than other chickens, due to their egg-a-day breed characteristics. They were loosing weight and still showing no inclination to even try the food.
That's when I decided to put Mr Dee into the flock. He's my oldest Silkie rooster, and I hoped he'd show them the ropes.
ISA Browns are notoriously vicious to other chickens, so I watched them carefully when I first added Mr Dee to the flock. They were confused by his odd appearance, and showed no signs of being aggressive towards him.
A few days after adding Mr Dee, the hens started to show some interest in the grain. They started pecking halfheartedly at it and tried to steal food from Mr Dee's beak.
Within a week of Mr Dee showing them how to be normal, all four hens started eating properly. They gobbled their grain with enthusiasm, came excitedly when I put it out, and started to peck each other over it a little.
Now that they'd settled in properly their breed traits started to show, with Mr Dee showing a bald spot on his neck one morning, where the hens had plucked his feathers out. Needless to say, he was instantly relocated back to his flock of his own kind, and the ISA Browns have carried on perfectly fine without him.
They now scratch, peck at the kitchen scraps and flap their wings. They've all learnt to perch - on the highest one available - and a few days ago I even caught a couple of them sun bathing. They're living the high life.
Hopefully they start laying soon!
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