Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Dangers of the Collective

One thing every one should be aware of is that when you bring animals into your life that have a natural herd or flock mentality--that can be a good thing, or that can be a bad thing! Personally, if a sheperd had been grazing my flock near a cliff, I might have asked (yes, perhaps quite loudly), "What were you thinking?"

We've seen this time and again with the chickens, all it takes is one hen to run after a fly, and suddenly every hen is running in the same direction! We've heard the same is true of sheep especially...why am I now thinking of the rallying cry of the Star Trek Borg, "You will be assimilated--resistance is futile!"


It's a great moment--the first time that both flocks are out in the yard together! It was nearly impossible to get a shot of the hens all together, as the little girls ran away every time I tried to take a picture!

On the whole this was a successful integration experiment--"pecking order" is a very real phenomenon! The older hens ran the little ones away whenever there was a tasty morsel of food to be had, which is part of why we are rearing the flocks separately for the time being. Several weeks back, Michael extended the outdoor run for the little girl so that they have a 10' X 20' swath that just into the big girls run. The 2 flocks are separated by wire, but get to see and hear each other now.

Our experience the last time showed us that it was important to wait until size differences had decreased. We didn't wait as long last time and there were some definite bumps. With the last group (the auracanas and buffs being the youngers, with the black australorps, sex link, and Rhode Island Red being the olders) we noted early on that the younger hens seemed to be chased away from the food bowl--and if our neighbor Mike hadn't found her in time, the lovely Seiji Brown might have died from the rigors of pecking order. That's another story for another blog post, but for today we feel we are on track with a slow integration of the flock.

This time around, with a suspected rooster in the flock, once he is "of age" he will command the obedience of the whole flock, which we hope will make blending the different age groups much easier--he will become the main event instead of the new hens...then when everything is settled, Rocky the Rooster will be going to live in the country with some friends of ours who need a rooster (and can legally own one). Posted by Picasa