I’ve talked about our backyard chickens a little bit in the past. Where Mr. P grew up in rural South Carolina, farm animals included, the backyard chicken scene is a new adventure for me. We got our first group of chicks last summer, who are now full grown and have been giving us beautiful eggs for some time now. A few months ago we decided to add to the crew, but we just introduced the two flocks.
Have you ever heard of the term “hen pecking” for when someone is nagging you? The true meaning of that term: when you introduce new chickens to a flock, the hens will peck the new chickens to put them in their place. Pecking order is a real thing. There is a hierarchy among the chickens: who eats first, how they graze around the yard, etc. Hen pecking shows the new chickens where they fall in that order (ahem, the bottom).
If you introduce chicks to the flock too soon, they will get hen pecked to the point of being featherless and bloody on the backs of their necks. It’s really sad. The trick is to introduce the two flocks in such a way where they are separate but able to see each other. So when the chicks were around 6 weeks old, we sectioned off a part of the coop just for them.
If you look under the enclosed coop you’ll see the new chickens’ space. We used a really small wire so that the chicks couldn’t put their heads through the chicken wire. If they can stick their heads through the wire, they’re at risk for (I’m not kidding) losing those tiny little heads to predators. The poor little dummies will pop their heads out in curiosity if they hear something, often to their own demise.
So for maybe a month or two we kept them in their own space until they were similar in size to the grown chickens. On the day we introduced them, I opened up the door to the smaller coop, while leaving the overall coop shut. This way I could monitor how they were interacting and if the new chickens got hen pecked a lot, I could just let the older chickens out of the coop.
They ended up doing great! The chickens mingled a little and then the new chickens went back into their space. So after a day, we let them all out to graze the yard. The grown chickens wandered the yard as usual. The young chickens stayed close to the coop for the first week and got more and more adventurous every day. It’s been pretty smooth transition. Currently the two flocks spend a lot of time apart from each other, but they are in harmony.
This is Scarlett, a red sex link chicken. She’s a great layer of brown eggs, Piper’s favorite hen, and the most likely to henpeck.
And last of the older chickens is Elsa, our easter egger chicken. She lays one beautiful green egg every single day. She’s probably my favorite as she is very quirky and will follow me around the yard.
Then we got seven chicks. Two of them are barred rocks like this goober on top of the water. Their names: Ertha and Maggie. Barred rocks are known for being friendly and that has totally been the case with these girls. They are the most willing to come close to me. I love it.
The two black chickens are black sex links. “Sex link” means you can identify their gender when they’re born by the color of their feathers. In this case, the black chickens are hens. I’ve heard via chicken forums (because nothing is more fun than a good chicken forum) that their breed is unusually vocal and loud. We named these two ladies Ryan and Barbara because we thought that it would be hilarious to name them after two of our friends. To answer your question, yes, Ryan is a girl chicken. It’s confusing. Life is messy. Deal with it.
The other three are Rhode Island red chickens, like this one between the two barred rocks. Their names are Rue, Lucy, and we’re still trying to find a name for the third. We’re taking suggestions if you have any.
I have loved having chickens. They are quirky and funny creatures with pretty distinct personalities. They lay delicious eggs and are pretty low maintenance. As long as they’re allowed in your city, it’s such a win having these peaceful, little pets. So what about you? Like them? Think you’ll ever try having your own? And most importantly, what should we name that last chicken!?