Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Integration Process--An Update

Some folks have inquired recently--how is the integration of the flock going? At this point the little girls are about 16 weeks old, and not quite 3/4 the size of the big girls, so we are still being cautious. Michael tends to be more full steam ahead than I am about these things, so sometimes we find a balance!

What's at risk, they're all just a bunch of small-brained chickens, right? Perhaps brain size is part of the issue, who knows--but the whole pecking order thing is very, very real. One piece of reality is that dominate hens in a flock will keep lower ranking hens from food, and sometimes water. I observed that with our first group of hens, and am seeing it now with this group as well.

So, some days we open up the portion of the young pullets' (that's technically what I should be calling the non-laying juvenile hens, pullets) run so they have access to the mature hens' run. Mostly the mature hens invade and eat all their food, while the pullets run to the back 40, and have to be coaxed back to their coop before sundown. I prefer that we only open that fence on the weekends at this stage, since if the hens are in a "mood" on a very hot day and keep the pullets from water, the pullets could quickly overheat and die. But Michael being more daring likes to mix it up a little!

We are still waiting to see if there are any roosters in the younger group--initially we thought one of our barred rocks, Rocky was a rooster, but now I have my doubts as s/he is pretty darn mellow. However, the New Hampshire (red in color) has become a rather pushy creature, and spends a lot of time running around making odd screeching and squealing tire type noises--which could be the beginnings of learning how to crow!

There are still a few more weeks for any roosters to mature enough to be the strutting, regal and noisy creatures we expect them to be...stay tuned for the next episode!

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