The Good (Chicken) Life
It’s been five weeks since we moved the chicks out to the farm, and I’m happy to report that all is well. The girls have settled in to their new home, so last weekend we decided it was time to move our five fully grown chickens (Rhoda, Raquel, Rosie, Ruby, and Ramona), who had been living in our backyard in Portland, out to the farm. That brings our 5R flock up to 30 chickens. The big girls are thrilled to have a large pasture to roam since they devoured everything green within beaks reach in our Portland backyard quite some time ago. The big girls are less than thrilled however, with their 25 new roommates. The little girls are almost the same size as the big girls, but the big girls definitely rule the roost. Not even the roosters will approach the big girls, yet, but I’m sure that will change soon. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the pecking order. It’s quite interesting to watch the girls and boys establish their position in the flock hierarchy. Our alpha and beta hens, Raquel and Rhoda, are the top girls and everyone seems to know it. They walk calmly around the pasture, and the little girls move out of their way without so much as a glance from the big girls. It’s a different story with our omega hen, Rosie. I’ve read a lot about how to integrate chicken flocks, and one of the things I’ve read is that when introducing new chickens into an established flock, it is often the most submissive, most picked on omega hen who will do the most pecking of the new hens because it’s her chance to move up in the pecking order and she’s not gonna let that opportunity go by without a fight! That sure has been the case with our sweet little Rosie, who is not being what I’d call sweet to the younger hens. She will give chase and peck anyone who doesn’t give her a wide berth, and she even sparred with Ramon yesterday. Although that’s not really saying much because yesterday I saw Lil’ Red Rooster, who is less than half the size of Ramon, chasing Ramon around while Ramon ran away with his tail between his legs and went to hide in the coop! Overall, the integration of the big girls and the little girls has gone very well, and there has been relatively little pecking. Mostly the big girls and the little girls avoid each other, although hopefully soon they’ll be one big happy flock. It will be interesting to see what happens when the roosters mature and establish their harems and how our bossy ladies Raquel and Rhoda adjust to having roosters around. As we are fond of saying of our often cranky and loudly complaining Rhoda – I’m sure she will object strenuously!