Just a couple of weeks ago I was at Aldi. This poor guy was trying to load the skinny but long boxes Aldi uses to hold the coffee pods into those large box containers they use to hold all their empty boxes. The boxes fell on the floor and I said to the guy – don’t pick them up, I’ll get them – I could see a perfect use for them at my place. You’ll remember the Chicken Merge – I used baked bean trays from Aldi to hold the treats. These long boxes are better suited to the task.
Todays treat – baby spinach and rocket, apple, tomato, tuna.
Chickens like to scratch with their feet when they are eating. With the wider baked bean boxes I used, two things would tend to happen – they would tip the whole box onto its side, or they would get in it and scratch around in there.
These long skinny boxes are perfect for chicken treats. I now bring a minimum of 3x those home each time we visit, Because they are long, there is room for all the girls to check out the treats without anyone having to get pecked. Because they are not very wide, the chicken scratch the ground and then eat the treats, and there isn’t much room for the chickens to get inside them or tip them up onto their side.
You can see how perfectly the girls arrange themselves around these thin, long boxes.
It always amazes me how much chicken behaviour is learned from other chickens.
These new girls did not have the foggiest idea where to lay an egg. When they first merged with the older girls, you would find their eggs on the ground, just randomly. Now, they lay in the laying boxes.
They did not make the Egg Song, ever. They were not very vocal at all. Now, they’re joining in with the egg song, and they are trumpeting and bagerking and making all the chicken noises.
They had tried to dustbathe but were not especially great at it, mostly because they did not grasp what the kitty litter tray full of sand was actually for. They also struggled to make dirt holes in the grass. Now, they are in a yard where everything is dirt, which by the way is exactly how chickens like it, and they spend a good couple of hours a day dust bathing with their new chicken friends.
Lizzy, Mary and Kitty get to share a treat box.
Speaking of chicken friends, how are they going together? Because they have so much space, this merging process is a lot longer than it would usually be. The three newbies still sleep out on the roost in the run at night.
During the day, White Sussex is Queen of the Castle, with the three new girls slotting in just under her, then the game hens, then Redcomb and Rosie are at the bottom of the pack.
Redcomb and the two other game hens got a bit confused with all the rain in December – their bodies thought it was winter again, and they went off the lay and moulted as a surprise to themselves, especially as they had only moulted a few months before. They are looking a bit ratty at the moment as the feathers slowly grow back in.
9 thoughts on “Those Girls”
Chooks are so interesting to observe. Generally animal learned behaviour is interesting. Our, what is now termed rescue dog, a pup, back in the eighties would squat to pee like a girl dog. I remember at the time when he first lifted his leg and yet I know he had not seen another dog lift his leg. Maybe chooks, which do actually produce eggs to breed, would find a more secure place to lay of the own accord in time, without the influence of observation?
I can easily get stuck watching the chooks for a good couple of hours if I don’t set myself a timer. I love to go out with a pitch fork and turn over a clump of dirt, and then they go a little gaga. Not Lady Gaga, they don’t put on weird wigs, fishnets and high heels and walk in and out of hotels with the paps taking photos, but bug gaga, like there has to be bugs in here to eat, so we must turn this clump into dust. :)
These girls only just started laying before the merge, so the whole process was new to them. In the large pen they have a lot of secure options which are not the laying box – at one time the older girls decided one of the terracotta plant pots was the perfect egg laying location and they all laid in there for a couple of weeks – and they have some bushes at the back where they hid a nest once – but these new girls would just drop wherever they were at the time, pop the egg out, and resume their regular activity.
It wasn’t until they saw the other girls going into the box and the whole egg song thing that they understood – laying the egg is a special thing and a bit of a big deal, and it means going to a special place, and it also involves White Sussex singing them the egg song and all the other girls joining in.
I get the impression from their behaviour that they were kept in a small cage like environment before we got them. Dirt and grass was a novelty to them and they weren’t really sure what to do with it at first. They discovered it tasted interesting, so they ate it. But they did not learn to dig and scratch until the very last week of their quarantine, and even then it seemed to be an accidental discovery rather than to dust bathe. Now that they are in with 5 girls who dust bathe all the time, they’re really getting into it.
Unfortunately my going out there to take photos disturbs their doings, and they are too busy following me around to see if I am going to give them a treat – I find it difficult to get pics of them dust bathing. I’d love to get a video because it is so funny to watch. :)
All puppies squat to pee, even the males, until they get a little older, then the leg lifting starts. Usually around three-four months or so.
Your chickens eat better than I do, and I am NOT kidding. :) Margaret
When I was making these treats yesterday I was suddenly hungry for tuna. :) I would never eat tuna with tomato, apple, spinach and rocket myself, it is a bit of an odd combo, but the girls loved it.
I do eat one of the treats I give them regularly – strawberries with baby spinach. I like to put some balsamic dressing on mine and have it as a salad, the girls decline that. :)
I dropped by your place and bookmarked it, it said nothing found but I’ll try again another day. :)
oh I miss chooks, my Dad used to have quite a few and I loved going out to talk to them.
My girls always have a lot to say when I drop into their yard. :) Talking to them is how all this began because the local pet shop would have chickens for sale and I would go in there and speak to them..
I really enjoyed this post. I just love reading about animals. It’s the next best thing to actually interacting with them, which brings me so much peace.
Lovely to see the new girls fitting in and learning from the older ones.