Archive for June, 2012

This was taken on the 5th May 2012, they are now almost 11 weeks old.


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They have to work a bit harder for their treats!

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Went to watch my brother carry the Olympic torch today, we left last night to drive to Lincoln. We made the decision to not shut the ladies coop last night so they could let them selves out in the morning. The chicken enclosure is fox and chicken proof (we think) so we just made sure there was enough food and water, shut and locked the outer door. As our chickens know how to put them selves to bed, we hoped they would just look after themselves.

Got back at about 7.30pm today, went out in to the garden and they were fine, sat on the top of the chicken coop. There was much more poo on the top today, so maybe they perched out side last night.

Trying to trim their wings on my own, not enough hands!

As we saw the 1st chicken flight the other day It was time to clip their wings. I got the kitchen scissors out, and the camera. I thought I would be able to do it my self, but I don’t have enough hands. In the end I held Tufty, I pulled out her wing and the other half cut of her flight feathers off. He felt really cruel, but it didn’t hurt them. We did the same to Whitey and put them back on the floor, gave them some treats.

They went in to the garden to forage around a bit, and have a flutter but they went nowhere near as far. So I felt happy to leave them in the garden on their own whilst I made dinner.

I’ve heard different noises from them today, they were sat in a tiny corner of one of the boarders having a really good dust bath, it lasted at least 30 minutes! They were sat so close together that they looked like one chicken with two heads. Whilst they were bathing, they made burrrrrt, burrrrrrt sounds, so cute, a happy chicken sound, they made loads of noise!

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Came home at 545, let the ladies straight out in to the garden. I was only in for an hour, before going to a friend house to see their new-born baby (who was totally gorgeous!). The chickens were much more at home in the garden today, fairly tame, happy to be picked up, and responded well to the bag rustle.

One of my friends came over from work to see the ladies, as I was talking to him, we heard a flap, turned around to see Tufty take off from one end of the garden and fly the whole way to the other end! Whitey joined in but got nowhere near as much air time. So we need to definitely clip their wings. I didn’t really want to do it, but seeing the effortless flight today, I’m gonna have to do it. If they get adventurous and fly over the fence they could quite easily get eaten by the dogs. I’d be gutted.

Forgot to mention, every morning when there is dew, as soon as the ladies come out of the coop, they drink the glistening dew from the chicken mesh. It’s great to watch, they sip it from each bit they can reach.

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We have had our chickens a whole week now!

We let Whitey and Tufty out in the garden today, it was nerve-racking to say the least. What if they had flapped over the fence, and got eaten by the dogs either side of our garden?!

It went far better than expected, we opened the door to the enclosure and they wandered out, didn’t stray far from the door at 1st, they just seemed to get engrossed in the new stones just outside the door, scratching away, all the way along the shed, rummaging under the foliage of the climber. They were having a whale of a time.

After about 5 minutes we enticed them back into the enclosure with mealworms, they looked devastated to back inside. Pacing back and forth by the fence.
I felt mean, but we had Sunday dinner to cook. About an hour later we came back out while everything was in the oven and let them out again. This time they had about an hour in the garden. They ventured a bit further this time, they were in the boarders, on the gravel path, on the grass. It was great to see them enjoying it so much. however where every they went they never really went too far from us.

The other half wanted to see if we could get them to run. As they know the sound of the mealworm bag, we thought they might chase me, so I got their attention with the bag and they came straight over, I gave them both one, and then walked backwards to see if they would follow me, surely enough they ran after me! Tufty was the leader on the running, she really has no fear. I gave them a little treat every time they ran to me, I ran up and down the garden and they chased me. It was so funny! So I think they definitely associate me with food, which is great. They had a little cold cooked rice, a bit of toast crust, and a little corn. To get them back in the coop all I had to do was lure them near the coop and throw a few meal worms in there. They were straight in. Let’s hope it is that easy every time!

Our friends arrived for sunday dinner with their little sausage dog (which are bred to hunt badgers which are black and white! The same colours as our ladies!) the dog was desperate to get in the enclosure, the ladies were very unhappy about this, sat right at the back of the enclosure. As soon as I went in they calmed down. It will have done them good to know that they are safe in their home, it didn’t take them long to realise that the dog couldn’t get.

After dinner we put the dog in the kitchen and let the ladies out one last time. They were braver this time and were having a really good exploring session deep in the boarders. We tempted them back on to the lawn, fed them by hand and picked them up to put them back in the enclosure. They must have worn themselves out as they put them selves to bed by 845pm.

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Since we got Tufty and Whitey, I’ve been doing some reading, books, blogs, forums etc regarding other people’s experience of taming chickens. There are so many differing opinions. Some say you should pick them up from day one, others say gain the chickens trust and work up to holding them. Some just describe how to catch a chicken ie corner them and grab! One said once you caught them, you should only put the chicken down once they have calmed down.

Then, I came across someone’s suggestion, if you try to pick them up from above, this to a chicken is predatory, so don’t do it. If you feed them a treat (mealworms) and slowly slide your hand underneath the bottom of the chicken, sliding their legs between your fingers, they simply don’t make a fuss. When you read things like this, after trying to pick up a new chicken, you just don’t think it is going to be that simple. Well it was! I couldn’t believe the difference in their reaction! It was the 1st time they had let me pick them up with no fuss. So that is the tip of the day, how to tame your chicken. If you have chickens have a go.

Feed them a mealworm with one hand and slip your other hand underneath them, lift your hand slowly, you can either put your other hand on top, holding the wings to their body, they just sit in your hand, or just lift with the one hand and they flap their wings and just stand on your hand. I can now stoke them, hold them, turn them upside down, inspect their wings, feet etc. It’s great, and they make such a lovely noise when they are being stroked, such happy little clucks. Even if they have had enough of being stroked, they don’t jump off any more, they wiggle away and stand on your knee.

Since I’ve been handling them more, they seem to miss me when I leave the enclosure! I know I’m sounding more and more like a mental chicken woman, but its true! They squark constantly, you can hear them in the house. As soon as you go back to them, they stop. But they only stop if you go in, once you are in they instantly return to normal chicken stuff, pecking, scratching etc. if you stand at the fence, they pace back and forth, making loads of noise. Maybe I’ve turned them into spoilt chickens! They are also getting far braver when it comes to the door, always under your feet, I have to be careful I don’t let them out.

I’ve been of work for the last day and a half with a horrid migraine, but today I got a text of one of the directors where I work, I asked him a while back if he had any logs or bits of tree that might fit the enclosure, he dropped them off at my house at lunch. Ace! So hopefully the ladies will like the new features. I will be able to hang stuff from the branches for them to peck at too.

The other half scarified half of the lawn last night, and gave the ladies a hand full of moss/grass, they loved it. Went mad scratching about and pecking, we also tried them on a tray of leek seedlings, they were sown in feb, but never transplanted. They liked the little shoots, pecked them all off in no time.

I have also reduced the rations of mealworms, every time one jumps on the knee, they get one. Just to reinforce the good behaviour. We don’t really need to use them to get the ladies on our knees anymore, they jump on straight after you sit down. Oddly Whitey seems to have got a bit less confident, I think Tufty is the bravest now.

I love them, can you imagine how tame they will be in a few months, we have not even had them a week!

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