The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

First, Second And Third May 28, 2012

It’s been a while, in this time I have spent a lot of time at home relatively speaking given the confines of a 9-5 job Monday to Friday and this has meant some real time with the girls.

While this has mostly resulted in a lot of wet play with dirty foot prints up the back step but we have celebrated their first birthday with us with some hot worms and snuggles on the back step, seeing them peck at the bowl, select the one they want, bash it on the ground and subsequently run as quickly as they can around the garden with the other two in toe.

The chance to spend time with them has made me rethink the dynamics of the group. Initially we thought Mave was in charge, her stout stature, constant squeaking and bravery to take the lead, enjoy the human contact and know what to do to get what she wanted made her the clear leader in the pack.

Doris fell second in line, keeping out of the way and moving in her own way and Flo took all the flack from Mave, comb and wattle pulling, being bumped out of the way and just getting doused in anti peck and choosing to spend her mornings with me rather than with her own kind.

When Mave fell sick with lice, which took us longer to rid of than we wished, the dynamic changed. It was nice, everything just seemed to work, everyone was eating, drinking and having fun. I’d even go as far to say everyone was sharing.

Having spent a lot of time outside with the girls and been able to sit amongst them to the point they
forget that you’re there it appears the dynamic may never have been what I thought.

There were always odd moments when we thought Doris seemed to be in charge, if the gang is at risk she’s at the helm, sounding the alarm and putting herself between the girls and danger. Originally we put this down to the size differential, for a Light Sussex she’s built like a house. If things got desperate she’s the one you’d eat.

But yesterday I was sat in coop during laying hour, I don’t know why it was hot and it was shady and cool in there. But as I was topping up the bar with cool drinks and hanging some cool treats for the girls to play with later something rather odd happened. Mave was doing her post lay squat for a while, Doris wandered in, decided she wanted Maves spot and just got herself in the same nest box and used her head to get under Mave and send her on her way and Mave just let it be.

My Mave, Mave the merciless, Mave who doesn’t take nothing from no body, yeah that Mave.

Later we had afternoon treats, three chickens two hands never works at the best of times but Mave was really pecking at Flo…In itself nothing odd but Doris was just minding her own. Which combined with the early episode in the hen house has raised some really interesting questions…

Is Mave vying with Flo for second place? Has Doris always been in charge and this always the battle for second place? Changes are a foot either with them or how I see my girls.


7 Days Older, 7 Days Wiser? May 15, 2011

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 12:56 pm
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Well it’s been a week to the hour, I’ve counted fingers and toes, human and chickwan and we seem to have as many as we all arrived with. What a week, it seems like they’ve always been here, cooing, scratching and pooing. For a first week we’ve had it all, eggs, wing clipping and the pecking order.

I don’t know if I had forgotten or wilfully ignored the downside of forming a flock   and the business of living. So the girls are giving each other grief, necessary sorting it out while they’re young and new…but grief none the less.

Mave the Merciless is definitely the hen at the top and lent herself perfectly to a name that rhymes with Merciless. She gets to do what she want when she wants, if it looks in doubt, a short sharp peck beats everyone into submission, including me.

Our hen in the middle appears to be Doris, who is fickle as the wind…if the mood takes her she stomps around with Mave, if the wind changes she’s floating around with Flo ducking in and around Mave and if she gets bored she’ll have a nip herself.

At the bottom of the order that leaves Flo, who really is copping all the flack. There has been neck pecking, leg nibbling and comb pulling, but fortunately our little chickwan isn’t so silly and she’s getting much better at ducking out of the way. Although one night she was snuggled down with Mave in one of the nest boxes…I couldn’t quite compute whether the world had gone topsey turvey and left was now right and dark was now light or whether I’d inadvertently walked in on a hostage situation. Its still a mystery.

I’ve sat on my hands and tried not to interfere, they have to sort it out for themselves, best to do it now and things will calm down but it’s not been easy they can actually be quite mean.

We’ve shut them together for a day after coming home to find our Flo in the hen house seemingly unwilling to come down, we’ve provided an extra small bowl of food so that no scrapping needs to happen at meal times and plenty of water so that’s not a battle either. I also bought some anti peck spray from our local pet shop and after a morning of a clingly chickwan I doused her in it and needless to say she tasted less than pleasant if someone did want to take a nip & she didn’t care for me much either which meant she had to play with her own kind.

But things appear to have calmed down for the gang and someone must be happy enough to lay an egg so we can’t be doing too badly in our first week either.