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Hussies in the Henhouse

Flashy Chickens Show Shabby Behavior

One may notice that the ducks, being so intelligent, are well covered in this publication. "Why," one might then ask, "are the chickens given so much coverage?" The only answer seems to be that the chickens, like Cher, are famous primarily for being famous. They certainly show similar behavior in many circumstances. If those chickens had hair instead of feathers, they would wear too much makeup, lots of cheap jewelry, and biiiig hair. Oh, yes, and bizarre glasses.

Crooked Toe, a nice Black Australorp rooster, has been the henhouse consort for several years. He has a very pleasant personality, seldom starts crowing earlier than an hour before sunrise, and is very distinguished looking. Recently, the Golden Sex Links have taken to hen-pecking. They keep pecking at poor Crooked Toeís neck and, also, in other places where no lady would be pecking. The management had to move Crooked Toe from the henhouse to the barn in order to keep the old fellow from being severely injured.

When the hens were still young pullets, walking into the henhouse was somewhat like stepping onto a Hollywood set for a girlís school movie. All those perfectly pretty little chickens were running around, eating, growing, and learning. Now that they are adults, they are no longer charming. They are interesting, lively, humorous, and very productive, but they act like hussies. They have flashy feathers, great big fluffy rumps, and brilliant red combs and wattles.

This is the henhouse flock, the chickens that are supposed to lay eggs. We have had front yard chickens in the past, but they were such breeds as Golden Laced Polish Crested, Light Brahma, and, like our current front yard chicken, Partridge Cochin. Ferguson, who is our only front yard chicken right now, is a very pretty bunch of feathers that sort of toddles around the barn. She is very old, and, as far as I know, has never laid an egg in her life. She was bred for beauty, not production, and I can enjoy watching her bumble about in the flowers.

The henhouse chickens, on the other hand, are bred to produce eggs. Most production breeds are plain, small, white chickens that lay white eggs. We prefer larger chickens that lay brown eggs, and chickens that lay brown eggs are usually some color other than white.

High production chickens are energetic. They like to spend a lot of time scratching up snacks and taking dust baths. If I turn the henhouse chickens out so they can run in the flowerbeds, they scratch up pits, tear up the flowers, and generally leave the place looking like a war zone. Additionally, they will build nests in various hidden spots and fill the nests with eggs. We usually will find the nests, then, in July, when the eggs are rotten and starting to explode. Still, the chickens need to get out and eat bugs and other stuff to keep their diet varied and healthy. Usually, we turn them out no earlier than an hour before sunset, so that they donít have time to do much damage. On rainy days we can turn them out earlier and they will spend most of the afternoon in the barn, scratching up the goat bedding. That helps keep the goat bedding dryer and warmer.

During the last snow I turned the hens out at about noon two days in a row. They ran through the snow to the barn and started working on the goat bedding, thoroughly enjoying the activity. A couple of them laid eggs in the barn, but most of them ran back to the henhouse to nest. The only problem was that one of them stayed out all night! Nice chickens just donít do things like that.

Well, the management reported the incident to the ducks. The ducks were shocked, for ducks certainly donít ever run around all night. The ducks have created a new organization, the Duckís Association for Moral Poultry (DAMP), which will organize curfew patrols. The henhouse inhabitants might look like Hollywood hussies, but DAMP will make certain that they are on their roosts at night and not running around the barnyard. The management appreciates the ducksí efforts.

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