We’ve been thinking about getting some more hens for a while now. They just look so right running around our back garden that we wished we had gotten six to start with. And now even though they’re all laying we are finding that we’re eating all their eggs and more! We had thought we’d be overrun with eggs but they are so delicious we are eating them all.
So this weekend, on impulse we rung Claire at Brantingham Banties to see if they had any POL chickens ready. And to our delight they had plenty, and only a day shy of 19 weeks old. We drove out after lunch and spent ages looking at all the chickens happily roaming about. It was hard to decide which of the gingernut rangers to pick and in the end they decided for us. Two hens wandered over to our car and started pecking cheekily at the dusty, dirty paint work so our decision was made. Chloe caught the pair of them, and once secure we left for home.
Once home at around 5pm, after clipping their wings, we made the decision just to add them to the flock already roaming around the garden.
We watched tentively wondering if the hen pecking would start immediately.
However nothing happened, our newbies kept to themselves and the original four did their best to ignore them. Around 6pm, our first four headed into the coop leaving the newbies looking for a perching place outside. We placed them one by one into the darkened perches with the other four and they all settled down nicely. We naively went inside thinking the worst had passed and that our chickens were obviously well mannered hosts.
Next day arrived and the hen pecking has commenced! It is so unsettling to watch, and funnily enough it was Boo Boo, the youngest chicken that displayed the most aggression (and still is). We think she was the lowest ranked of our original four. She has been chasing, comb pulling, nipping, feather pinching and just generally being a menace. The older two have only joined in once in a while they seem safe in the knowledge that they are top of the pecking order.
Update: it is four weeks on and the newbies have started laying. We have for the last week been getting five eggs everyday which is lovely. We think they are all laying but with one taking a well earned rest each day. The hen pecking has almost gone. The newbies are roaming with the original four now and are starting to join in with the general ruckus when we chuck out a bowl of scraps. There is still the occasional hen peck but without the initial viciousness. One thing we’ve noticed is the newbies both still wait to join the others in the coop in the evening. The original four go inside first leaving the other two to have their final feed in peace. They then wander inside and settle down for the night with their gentle sleepy clucking. Bliss.