Miri and Gilfy are the Barred Rock/Buff Orpington chickens we hatched in the incubator earlier this year. Since leaving the brooder, they’ve been sleeping in a little dog kennel set up next to the chicken coop at night and free ranging with the big Girls by day. They strategically stay out of the way of the Girls, but are now familiar with them. Almost full grown with winter coming, it is time to assimilate them into the Girl’s coop.
Begin Operation Chicken Relocation.
On Sunday night, under the cover of darkness, flashlights in hand, Hannah, Paul and I tip-toed down to the coop. One by one, we quietly plucked Miri and Gilfy out of the dog kennel and popped them into the hen house through the egg hatch. We hoped to tuck them in while the Girls slept so come morning they would just blend in with the flock.
When I checked on them first thing in the morning, I found Miri on the outdoor perch and Gilfy face down in the mud, his head stuck between a cinder block and the run’s fence wall. Panicked, I darted in to run and pick him up expecting to see wounds or some sort of trauma – his breathing was so erratic. No wounds were visible, so I set him back in the dog kennel where he promptly jumped up and started nibbling away on chicken feed pellets as if all was right with the world.
I gave him an hour and when he still appeared to be doing okay, I collected him from the dog kennel. He promptly freaked. Feeling terribly guilty, I popped him back inside the hen house. He slowly wandered back into the run where he reunited with Miri. The two huddled in a corner, doing their best to hide from the other chickens.
Here’s Gilfy, huddled with Miri, his head buried like an ostrich. It’s a pitiful sight.
Although the chickens usually free range during the day, we decided to keep everyone confined to the run for a few days until Miri and Gilfy accept this as home. The Girls chased the new chickens and did their best to intimidate them. It worked.
Deciding the Girls needed a distraction, I raked up piles of leaves and dumped them into the run along with some veggie trimmings. I hoped they would get so busy investigating the leaves that they’d forget about their new coopmates.
Things did improve and Miri and Gilfy came out of the corner.
Later that night, flashlight in hand, I sneaked out to the coop and was relieved to find that Miri and Gilfy had gone into the hen house for the night. I’d had images of them huddling together all alone in the cold dark run.
They’ve since survived day two with the Girls and I’m feeling a bit more confident about managing this flock of silly chickens. As Paul said, “They just need to get through chicky boot camp.”