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Ex-bat Chicken Diary: Collection Day
Within the garage of one of the charity worker’s farm sat over 30 hens waiting for adoption. We donated our bit and with our two cardboard boxes we were given five hens at random, they flapped their wings about whilst going into the boxes. Throughout the journey home the hens sat patiently huddled together, occasionally standing upright and taking a peak through the holes in the boxes. When collecting hens a standard pet carrier designed for animals like cats is suitable. If you do not have one then you can make your own by cutting holes in the sides of a cardboard box as shown in the photograph below. We opened up the boxes and showed the hens their new home
Hen collection box
Hens in collection box
Their New Home
We got the hens out of the boxes and placed them within their pen, they quickly huddled together in a corner whilst they accessed their surroundings. They kept their heads ducked down in a protective and slightly wary way.
The Hens' first look around their new home.
Hen's gathering in the corner
Two of the hens were nearly on complete feather with the other three slightly rough and ragged. This is mainly around the tail as the feathers have been cut sort by attack from other hens. Another noticeable feather shortage on two of the hens was around the neck; this is from rubbing against the bars of their previous home when reaching for food.
One of the hen's with her bald neck.
Within about fifteen minutes the characteristics of the hens started to emerge and they began expressing natural behaviours common to a hen which are restricted in their small metal cages. One of the more adventurous hens (Becky) started edging its way from the group and scouting out their new environment. Another (Ginger) started investigating the ground: scratching with their feet and pecking with their beak.
The hen's first peck at the ground.
Watching them scout around for food and peck at everything in sight we gave them some Layers Crumb and they quickly found it and started eating.
The hens first feed.
They are used to a similar mash feed, feed through their cages and were able to work out that is was edible and good for them; once one started eating the other soon followed suit. One hen (Duffy) was quieter and less mobile than the rest keeping relatively close to the corner finding the new surroundings hard to take in.
Duffy struggling to understand her new surroundings.
Within three hours all of the hens had become adjusted to their new home and made their way around their pen. They had starting scratching at the ground and searching for worms, any they found they quickly gobbled up for afternoon tea. We gave two of the hens a helping hand in discovering their new home. They quickly found outside more fascinating and went back out.
Becky on a tour of her new house.
The hens found their voices quickly and soon one of the hens started standing taller than the rest asserting some authority. This was a start to their natural pecking order in which the hens squabble to sort out who is ‘queen bee’; this is something that you have to leave them to sort out.
Nicky soon became top of the pecking order.