Monday, August 13, 2012

Introducing new chickens


It was a busy weekend in the garden, but I will break it over a few posts. First let me introduce you to three new chickens. Based on the way Ginger was acting, solitude does not seem to be a form of relaxation for a chicken, so all of us in the family felt it necessary to get her some more friends quickly. Three new ISA Browns were purchased from our local fodder store, same place we got the first four. Even the buying of chickens is a fun and entertaining experience. No other store purchase I know of requires the storekeeper to chase after and catch the items for sale.

Despite it being a few weeks earlier than I wanted, I thought it best for the new chickens to be introduced via the chook tractor. A couple of reasons... 1. Chickens love being in the tractor, especially on a fresh bed ladened with vegetable leftovers. 2. The tractor is a completely enclosed dome. When I first got the previous set they escaped often in the first few days. Amazing how high a chicken can fly when it really wants to.

The introduction to Ginger was very interesting to watch. Naturally I put her in the tractor first, let her settle in, then added the three strangers. She instantly went stiff as post, I don’t think she even blinked, as the others walked in past her. It was probably a good half a minute before she moved, slowly at first, then all of a sudden a small timid Ginger buffed out her feathers, stretched her neck high, and showed a side to her that we had never seen before. I went and grabbed a cup of tea then we all sat and watched the fight. All bets were on Ginger. There was no real competition really, the newbies didn’t even challenger her once, they just ran. So currently it looks like Ginger is the head chook.


To insure their safety from another fox attack I decided to raise the roosting perch from about 1 meter to 1.5 meters off the ground. I can’t imagine a fox being able to jump that high. If I am wrong, like I was with foxes not living in the suburbs, please let me know.

To help the chickens reach that height I copied an idea from Celia, a lower perch held by string. The idea being that a chicken can use it but a fox will undoubtedly lose balance. The really funny part of this story is that I forgot how Celia and her husband had done this. So initially I built a free moving swing. At dusk I watched through the dinning room window to see how they were getting on. What I witnessed was hilarious. Ginger jumped onto the perch, it start to swing, and with her attempts to keep balanced she made it go higher and higher until she was so high it was hitting the sides of the dome. Eventually she fell or knowingly jumped off. I only wish I had the camera so you could all have seen it too. I quickly fixed the design fault by using four strings, instead of two.


Once Ginger was up happily roosting she however did not let the others up. Every attempt they made was met with a swift peck to the top of the head.


Being the big rooster that I am, I had to intervene. I hopped in the dome with them and placed each of them on the opposite perch to Ginger. I said “good night and no fighting” and all was quiet in the dome. The same thing happened last night too. Hopefully I don’t have to do this for too many nights. At least they don’t require a bedtime story and help with brushing teeth.

19 comments:

  1. I got new chickens last week, they came home by bicycle! http://wp.me/pNbv8-5Y
    And I fox-proofed their home after reading your sad news.
    xx Kim

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    1. Great to hear someone took heed to my story.

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  2. Sorry to read about your fox attack. Hope the new girls fit in.

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    1. Today when I was giving them breakfast, Ginger was letting them eat, so I think everything is going to be fine. She still isn't letting them sleep on the perch though.

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  3. Its funny watching new girls settling in with the existing bunch. We have 12 of them across 2 houses and just recently we have been finding the 'wrong' ones in the other house. All about the pecking order and who is besties with who at the time I think!

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    1. That's very interesting, I never knew they would change friendships. I thought once a group was established it was for life. There you go.

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  4. I'm so glad you have new chickens! Thanks for the mention - and you made us laugh with the image of Ginger on the wildly lurching swing! Ours has several strings to stabilise it too. :)

    You might find your girls like it - now that the roost is easier to get to, we find our chooks use it like a three storey house. :)

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    1. You deserved a mention, the idea is brilliant. I am so please I follow your blog and saw it.

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  5. Ginger the trapeze artist! I really want to get some chooks, interesting personalities to watch. The tractor is a great idea.

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    1. "Ginger the trapeze artist" I like that. I think the tractor is great too, it works so well, and was very easy to build. how to build

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  6. Hi, i've just popped over from Rhomda's blog and I just wanted to say hello. I would love to keep chickens but am still trying to convince my hubby that it's a good idea lol.
    Enjoyed reading your blog

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    1. Well hello notjustgreenfingers, and welcome. You are going to have to just put your foot down. You will not regret it, chickens are wonderful pets. And they pay rent with eggs and manure for the garden. Gavin has an e-book describing his story of keeping chickens. Might be worth getting for your hubby.

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  7. Hi, I also just popped over from Rhonda's blog as well. Sorry to hear about your chickens we lost our two about three months ago to a fox and we also live in suburbia. We will get some more chickens very soon especially when it gets a bit warmer (bit cold at the moment in Canberra).

    I love your blog and will definitely keep up the good work.

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    1. Hi paulines, lovely that we have something in common. Sad though what it is. In Adelaide it is the perfect time to get chickens. The store I go to sells them so fast, which pleases me that there are lots of people keeping them at home. And pop by any time.

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  8. Foxes wreak so much havoc! Foxes have taken my flock TWICE and I'm right in the suburbs too - more foxes here apparently than out in the country. They can climb and jump - only way that's worked has been to completely fox proof the night enclosure and although my neighbour had fox at her backdoor at noon!! Funny about the swinging chook :)

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    1. Sorry to hear you lost yours twice. I have to find some way to make the dome secure, as getting them in and out every day is going to get tiresome. Fox at noon, now you got me worried.

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  9. Hi Jason,
    I never had trouble with foxes with domes, and I think they were around. I know they're around now because our two drakes got got, but the chooks in the new roost have been safe. The new roost is about 1.5 metres high. My chooks make a big deal of flying up to it, but they get up, even the big fat browns. When I had domes, I made a lattice platform for mine to roost on, right up high. The lattice meant a fox would have to do a near vertical jump, and discouraged the chooks from panicking and flying down. Sadly I think there are lots of foxes in the suburbs, and fox carnage on chooks is so shocking and wasteful and sad.

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    1. Thanks for that input Linda. I will try some sort of lattice then. Normally I love a bit of trail and error, but I hate this experimenting knowing lives on the line.

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