April 20, 2016

Mixing the generations

Yesterday morning I let everyone out to range.  

The babies had access to their "play pen" that I had made for them.  This was an outdoor area enclosed with three big wood pieces and the coop as the fourth wall.  There has been a lot going on in the family, which has slowed down coop construction so I made this make-shift space for them until their permanent run was finished.  When I got home, however, I discovered one of the walls had fallen over, and all the generations of chickens were intermingled in the yard.

Initially I panicked.  Are the babies ok?  Did anyone get hurt by the falling wall?  Are the adults bullying the little ones?  Did any hawks carry away babies?  So many things to worry about!

I quickly saw, however, that it wasn't so bad.  The birds actually seemed to be doing fine together.  I saw a few adult Rhode Island Reds peck at babies, especially near the food, but mostly they were ignoring each other.  The babies were checking everything out - the inside of the adult coop, the feeders and waterers, the yard, the run.

Then it started to get dark.  Time to worry again.

When I went out to the coop, all the adults were inside claiming perches, but the babies were all over the place.  Their instinct to roost at dusk is obviously not as well developed yet!  So I began shooing them inside.  Some went into the side coop (where they have been staying); some ran into the run; some hopped up into the adult coop.  It was chaos.  I made a couple loops around the periphery, though, and it looked like everyone was in.

I went back out a little while later to make sure the babies who ended up in the adult coop were okay.  At first, this is what I saw:

There weren't any babies inside the adult hen house.  Some were laying on the ground in the run, and a pile of them were in the doorway.  As I stood there, though, one brave soul hopped down from the doorway and up onto the bottom perch, which none of the adults ever use.  She nestled herself down, and claimed her spot.

I was satisfied that no one was getting killed so I called it a night, turned off the lights, and headed inside.

When I came out this morning, I was happy to find that the girls had all made it through the night okay.  This scene cracked me up...

Three Barred Rock babies had claimed the top perch when all the adults vacated the hen house this morning.  When the adults are away, the babies will play.

I took down the "play pen" and just let everyone out together this morning.  They seem pretty focused on foraging.

Here's a video of them free ranging behind the coop.  I will keep my fingers crossed that it will continue to be this easy as the generations mix and mingle, and figure out their pecking order as a unified flock.  

1 comment: