This is our second chat in the Melanie & Becky series - who are the proud new owners of three ex-battery hens. We spoke to them last time about how they prepared and what they expected - they have now had the hens for two weeks.
1. How long have you had the chickens for now?
2.How did the chickens react when you first introduced them to their new home?
They tentatively pecked around and were keen to get into warm, enclosed spaces. While they were a little quiet, they were quite happy to be cuddled by the kids!
3. How has their behaviour been in the first few weeks? Have they been afraid of you?
One of the hens, Honey, is particularly friendly and likes to be patted. The other two, Truffle and Chablis, are a little more reserved but definitely like being around people. We have let them out "free-ranging" in the backyard each day for an hour or two which they initially found quite anxiety-provoking and would stick close to the coop. In the last week they have become much more adventurous and are exploring further each day. Honey has started to 'roost' at night in the hutch but Truffle and Chablis prefer to sleep on the floor, I think they might struggle to roost as they both limp.
We're also pleased to report that in the last 4 or 5 days the hens have started laying eggs!
4. How was their physical appearance when they arrived, and have they changed in the time you’ve had them?
They were all missing large patches of feathers. Their beaks have been reduced so aren't a normal shape and they find it hard to pick up grains from the ground, preferring to eat from a deeper dish. As I mentioned before, Truffle and Chablis also have quite bad limps, but these are getting better as time goes on.
Their appearances haven't changed a great deal in two weeks but their behaviour definitely has - they are all much more lively and interactive than they were when they first arrived.
5. We hear your neighbour has also adopted some hens and it’s turned into a bit of a community effort - can you tell me more about this?
Becky and I are neighbours and because Becky's place doesn't have a very big backyard we decided to house the chickens in my yard and share the care of them. We were initially going to get just two hens but the Bagley-Jones family, who also live on our street, heard we were adopting hens and were keen to be a part of it so we adopted three hens. All of the hens are housed in the coop at my house but we are splitting the cost and time to care for them three ways.
6. How are your chickens liking their coop?
They love the coop! Initially they had trouble walking up and down the ramp that goes in and out of the enclosed hutch so we were lifting them in and out each morning and evening. The reason they have trouble is because their feet have been damaged by being cramped in the battery cage and I think their general fitness is not great. A few days ago, I went down just after dark to lift them up into the hutch and they were all already in there - settled for the night! Then the next morning when I opened up the door to the hutch they all made their way, albeit a little tentatively, down the ramp and onto the ground. So they are enjoying their home with no restrictions now. They are laying eggs usually in the nesting boxes, sometimes on the floor of the hutch. They also love having dust baths in the open area.