- They are interesting animals and fun to watch. We crack up a lot watching their antics.
- Now that we've had them awhile, they are relatively easy to care for.
- We have more eggs to eat than we ever desired...with just five hens!
- We are the grateful harvesters of all their soiled bedding for use in our garden.
- The chickens are great at eating bugs, though there are a lot of bugs we don't want them to eat so this fits in positives and negatives, I suppose.
- There is a very defined pecking order, which usually works well so all chickens know their place. This results in pecking, which if blood is drawn results in a lot more pecking. These are blood thirsty birds and so we've had to stay vigilant and make sure no one does serious damage to each other. When we coated Rocky the Rooster's comb in Vaseline to protect against frostbite, the hens went nuts pecking it bloody since the red comb with the shiny ointment apparently made them think blood. Ack! Blu Kote usually helps us mask the red when blood is drawn.
- The pecking order at some point early in the move to our place put Little Girl aka L.G. at the lowest of the low. You can see her outside the fence. She can in no way and at no time be with the other chickens anymore. After not too long here, we discovered that she wasn't allowed to eat, drink or roost with the other chickens. During the extreme cold this was a huge problem since all the chickens were in the coop constantly. Once the weather broke and the chickens could be outside more, we tried to reintegrate L.G. BAD IDEA. Rocky the Rooster went after her, knocked her to the ground and started pecking her head. Ugh.
- L.G. now seems to have crook neck or wry neck. This is a problem caused by genetics, head injury or malnutrition. We think she's suffered from the latter two. Google it. It's terrible. She is still kicking, but drinking water is getting to be more and more of a problem.
She finally gets to roost up high like the other chickens and even has a southern exposure!
She has access to her own food and water and feels safe. Her behavior is completely different than when she had to deal with pecking from all the hens and the rooster.
The increase in food and safety allowed L.G. to finally start laying eggs...monster eggs!
It hardly seems fair to us that as soon as we got L.G. all fixed up she developed this crook neck. Rocky's attack no doubt triggered it. She is still kickin' though and happy to run around in the garden. We will see what happens. We have been told that some of these aggressiveness problems are less when one raises chickens all of the same breed and starting out when they are chicks.
Chickens need space though, that's for sure, and keeping chickens makes us even more aware of the necessity to support humane raising of these animals. We're not sure what we will do in the long run, but we can certainly say this has been a learning experience!