January 26, 2015

Beauty AND brains

My hens are "free range" in that they spend their nights locked up in a safe coop and their days in an outside yard surrounded by a 6 foot fence. Where we live having chickens roam freely on the property is not practical, fun though it would be: there are too many animals who would eat them.

Entertainment is limited in the chicken yard; this is a desert, and though there are good-sized shrubs, there is no grass and in the winter it is pretty bare. So I was intrigued by an article in http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com which talked about "chicken enrichment", giving the hens something to explore and play with. It involves a piece of pipe with holes in it, two end caps, and some chicken scratch.

Being "ranchers" we always have odds and ends hanging around and I found a piece of drain pipe that fit the bill. I bought some end caps and we were in business. Day one the hens were suspicious of the new thing in the yard, but day two the pipe was empty.

This morning I put a little more scratch in and watched the hens happily rolling the pipe along, scarfing down scratch along the way. Whoever said that chickens are stupid has not spent any time with them and observed their behavior for any length of time.

The hens are now 18 weeks old, almost fully grown and beautiful. I will be taking down the coop divider tomorrow and open the yard gates between the old hens and the new flock. Laying eggs should start in the next month.

My favorite, tame, and smart hen Cindy.


Jon said...

(except Marilyn) :-P

Anneke said...

You are QUICK :-}! Yes, except Marilyn.

webb said...

The neighboring city has started allowing backyard chickens (up to four) in the hope of helping poorer people to have eggs (and i guess eventually chickens) to eat. I think it's a great idea and hope it ... flies. (couldn't resist)

Have often thought that if our county allowed it, i would give them a try. Did not like eggs growing up, but have come around in recent years. You seem to enjoy yours so much!