And then there were 11. It doesn’t sound so bad, except eight of them are chicks and one is a rooster. Ah well, I may be keeping more female chicks than I had anticipated. The babies are 4 weeks old now. They have coped well through a horrible, rainy, winter period. The sun came out yesterday, stayed the whole day, and returned today. I dare say we all needed it. All the feather children have been basking in the sun and rolling around in the dirt.
The dynamics are shifting with alpha Sam gone. It is hard to know who will claim top spot out of Frodo or Legolas. I have always thought Legolas would be a candidate for leadership, as she’s always been a goer. She has a number of things going for her: she is almost as big as Frodo, she is back to getting special attention from Mr Elrond, since Frodo didn’t need his special attention right now, thank you very much, and Elrond is still ‘protecting’ her to some extent, making sure she gets food, even though there’s no Sam to bop her on the head anymore. Frodo is a bit disadvantaged in that she has eight rowdy children to look after, she is lightly moulting at the moment and she is probably pretty worn out (as only a mother knows). However, she is the senior chicken and was outranking Legolas before. I have noticed them having a few stare-offs, in which they just stare at each other from close range, no doubt sussing each other out, but they don’t do anything else so Elrond usually interrupts them. Yesterday morning I got a surprise when I turned around to see Legolas feeding from the feeder first, while Frodo hung back. Sam used to let Frodo and the babies feed at the same time as her. Whether Legolas had asserted some dominance or Elrond had allowed her to feed first I don’t know. This morning, Frodo and children fed first. Hmm. We shall see.
Meanwhile, the babies have been testing each other out, doing a lot of upright stances and chest bumping. I think it’s mostly the boys, but they all get in on it. I even witnessed one of them, Orange Feet, steal a piece of food right out of Legolas’ beak as she stood at the treats bowl, then proceed to race around, announcing his great find, so all the others chased him around the pen like little maniacs. What a cheeky lil’ dude! Yes, I said dude. And yes, I have attempted to take some photos of them all, which is no easy feat, so now we can play…
Hen or Roo!
I know they’re not called hens or roosters until they’re mature, but it has a nice ring to it. So, without further ado, here are some photos of them and my guesses thus far. Feel free to add your thoughts.
Little Spot – Roo
The Chick That Looks Like Little Spot – Hen
The Dark Blue Chick – Hen
The Smoky Chick – Hen
Pie – Roo
Half Pie – Roo
Orange Feet (whose feet are no longer very orange) – Roo
Bob, or perhaps more appropriately, Blackie – Hen
And a few more photos to finish off.
I was supposed to end this post there, but… Just as I was enjoying a few days of quietness on the chicken front, well, you know how things go around here. Something else occurred. I went out to give the chickens some treats this afternoon and observed some of the chicks getting very feisty with each other. I know they’re trying to establish their pecking order, but when I said I wanted tough chickens I meant tough as in healthy and hardy, not feisty! As I watched them running around and pecking each other in the head, I realised one had a bit of blood on its face. It was Half Pie. That figures; he’s often at the centre of the scuffles. I caught him with the net to check him over. The blood was from some small peck wounds around his face. Poor wee dude! Thankfully, owing to Sam, I have been more proactive about purchasing various items for my chicken first aid supply. I washed his little wounds with antiseptic on cotton balls, using a purple wound spray to try and hide any blood, but being careful not to get it in his eyes. Faces are tricky. He seemed otherwise ok and since the wounds were minor and he didn’t seem to be being picked on, I put him back in the run.
What happened next was surprising. Frodo turned on him. She sought him out and pecked him. He would run off and she would find him again and peck at him, again and again, while the others just carried on about their business. This is the most aggressive thing I’ve seen from any of my chickens and it was especially a shock coming from his mother, but it is the first time I’ve had a blood wound in the flock. I know chickens can go nutso when they see blood, but since I cleaned it up and he wasn’t being singled out before I caught him I thought he would be ok. Whether she didn’t like the smell of the antiseptic, didn’t like the purple colour or suddenly realised that he was injured, I’m not sure. I’m not holding it against her as I know it’s just how chickens deal with injured flock mates. I quickly set up the cat cage for him and got him out of there. He is currently residing in the cat cage, on the dining table with a towel-wrapped hot water bottle to snuggle and the fire going strong. When I put the hot water bottle in he made a break for it, got past my arm and shot off into the hall, pooping in the hall on his way. Fortunately, Nala was outside and The Husband controlled The Little Fulla while I caught Half Pie. These chicks look so innocent and peaceful when you see pictures of people holding them but they’re not, they’re insane!
Well, at least a slightly injured chicken is better than a sick chicken. I will have to keep him separated until his wounds heal and make sure he stays warm enough. It won’t be much fun for him being all alone. Getting him through the healing process is the first step. Then will come the question of what on earth to do with him. I may have to set up a cage for him within the pen so they can all see each other, watch how they interact and go from there. Argh. I’m just hoping Frodo will accept him back. It’s tricky when he’s still so young. I’m really hoping he is a he now too, just in case. I need my females!
5 thoughts on “And Then There Were 11: Onwards and Upwards. Or Sideways…”
The most reliable method I found was courtesy of Willow Creek Farm – at nine weeks check the saddle feathers, pointy for boys and rounded for girls. This was by far the most accurate – 100% accuracy for our last lot. But of course this means waiting another three weeks :). It’s hard too when you have favourites (who can help it? I know I had mine!). Good luck!
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Yes, I have heard about that method but wasn’t sure how old they had to be. Argh, the waiting! It’s interesting how accurate it was for you. I’m trying not to have favourites but it is hard! The problem is I think I’ve been trying too hard not to get attached to them just in case and I haven’t been handling them enough. We are going to have to start having regular handling sessions. 😉
Wow! Lots of stuff in this post! I hope Half Pie will be okay. Hopefully his injury will heal all the way and he will be able to come back to the flock with no more problems. And hopefully momma Frodo won’t chase him off again. Though, he is getting on to the age where a mother hen will start thinking about laying eggs again (usually around 6 weeks, when their chicks have lost most their downy feathers and are ready to be on their own). She may decide he’s ready a little early.
Abby kept Pip with her til he was almost 9 weeks, but Pip was an only child and it was winter. Abby needed cuddles for body heat.
It sounds like the new Pecking Order is still being established. Legolas is still young, but it will really depend on her personality overall. If she is alpha, it could easily be her.
Abby is still ours, even though being broody has taken her away. A couple of the new pullets have tried to push their way in, but the ones who go up against her get put in their places quickly.
Time will tell in both our flocks.
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Haha yes, I may have stuffed too many things into this post… Half Pie is ok so far (and almost certainly a boy), with an update coming soon. I do expect Frodo to look after her babies for a bit longer seeing as it’s winter but who knows? Pip was a lucky wee chap getting extra time with his mum.
Neither Frodo or Legolas have a particularly alpha personality, which is why they’re fluffing around so much hehe. I haven’t seen them do anything much to each other yet, aside from the random staring. Legolas seems to be eating from the feeder first in the morning now so she could be it, but Elrond is still giving her preferential treatment since Frodo is preoccupied with her children and ignores his attempts at preferential treatment. I guess as long as Abby is still around when she has her breaks she will maintain her throne, at least until your pullets get older. Gotta love chicken politics!
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