Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicken Integration

If you recall from earlier posts like The halfway house aka chicken tractor and chick love, Whitney and I raised 5 more chickens this year. These Silver Laced Wyandottes came to us as day old chicks and we brooded them in the house until they were old enough to go outside. They lived in the chicken tractor for several weeks while becoming accustomed to the outside world. After they became comfortable, we began opening the door in the afternoons so that the pullets could roam the yard like the hens do. But even though they were all out together, the two groups would not mix. They were two groups tolerant of each other but not interested in meeting. Eventually the pullets became too big for the chicken tractor, so it was time to move them into the coop.
The Five Pullets
I guess I thought Whitney would just chicken whisper them right into the hen house, but it didn't exactly work that way. It turned out more like a game of Chase the Chicken every night for a week. The books all say that it is as simple as placing the pullets in the coop at night, and the next morning they will wake up knowing that's home. I'll tell you how it went for us: One night Whitney and I moved the pullets one at a time into the coop and placed them on the roost. The next morning, when I opened the door to the chicken yard, the pullets tumbled out and hid in the corner. The hens scratched and pecked like normal, but the pullets continued to huddle off on the side. That afternoon we opened the door to the big yard and the pullets ran back to the chicken tractor! We rounded them up and got them back in the coop, but they were clearly not happy about it. For about a week every time we opened the door, the pullets ran out to return to the their old home. It was sad, and we even worried that they might not be eating but after several rounds of chicken wrangling they did start returning to the coop at night. It's taken a while but I'm happy to say that the flock is now fully integrated. Sure the hens have a pecking order and the youngsters are not yet on the top roost, but they aren't a separate flock either.

The Integrated Flock
To top the news, this week Whitney found a couple mini eggs in the nesting boxes, suggesting our little Wyandottes have started laying! So, it's official we've got 19 layers and 1 rooster (although one of the Wyandottes is showing some rooster-like tendencies, more on that later).
Sometime soon we will try honey extracting for the first time, so stay tuned for that.
Until next time, as always, thanks for stopping by.


April.. I [Heart] My Life said...

Oooh, is that your possible new rooster there in the picture, bottom right?

Kyle said...

You nailed it!