Chickens are very sociable, having friends and enemies, show self-awareness, can memorise over one hundred faces, can count and what’s more express emotions like grief, fear, anxiety, frustration, friendship and boredom.
Don’t you just love the many personality traits of your birds, that’s both the good and the bad. I like the way some individuals are always on the lookout for new food opportunities. Apart from their layers pellets and layers mash, the birds also get a seed treat later in the day, which makes sure they all not only go to bed with a full crop, but also with a good burning fire inside, especially in the winter months. Then there is the seed tray near the house which is nearly always present for ad lib munches throughout the day (pigeons permitting).
Some individuals however, want to venture into the garage, and then if our attention is elsewhere, into the house. Rosie makes it her business to take advantage of any distraction on our part. When spotted she is a past master at avoiding capture, by either hiding behind things, or making a run for it into the house. Rosie, it should be explained is a Hamburgh bantam, being small is a distinct advantage in this particular game. We have found her on top of one of the kitchen work surfaces helping herself to porridge (not ours luckily, but the hens) or more often these days, helping herself to either Molly’s or Oliver’s (our cats) leftover food, which she manages to polish off in seconds. So as you can see, some of our hens need close observation.
Rufus one of our Brahma cockerels (now sadly not with us) enjoyed the attention of the more outgoing brown hens. The video below illustrates the great affection he was held in by some of the birds he shared a coop with. It’s moments like these that makes keeping hens so rewarding.
He just loved being hand fed, so at feed time he would seek me out to have that personal attention he so craved.
Another rooster by the name of Smokey is a Gold Laced Wyandotte bantam, he’s one of our favourite birds. Apart from his stunning good looks, he has a crow like no other. Not in the least bit harsh, it strikes a perfect note.
Smokey is around 5 years old now. He was boss of one of the bantam coops, alas recent new blood has ousted him from that perch, now he prefers the quiet life in his autumn years and now can be found in the brown layers coop. At one time, 3 years ago, he was always with one of the Brahma flocks, following them everywhere, we ended up thinking he was their mascot.
I can’t end without mentioning our lovely little Belgium bantam, Solitaire (yet again). Every year she saves the day by acting as surrogate mother. Over the years she must have raised over 50 odd chicks and her devotion to them is without equal. Show Solitaire eggs or chicks and she is on them in a flash. If you look closely, you might just be able to make out her gorgeous whiskers. I guess this is her vocation in life. She is quite elderly now, when she finally hands in her dinner pail, boy are we going to miss her.