Up until this past weekend our older hens and our younger hens had been separated into 2 separate flocks and housed in separate coops. The younger hens, who are about 5 months old now, were living in my garden. While in there, they had removed every scrap of vegetable matter in the fenced area including my strawberry and blueberry plants I had hoped to keep for this year's garden. Needless to say I was ready to move the chicks out of my garden!
On Sunday morning Hubby attached the fenced runs together creating a walkway between the 2 runs to let the flocks mingle. This isn't really the ideal way to combine flocks. We knew this. But the layout of the coop the small hens were living in made it very hard to remove them from their roosts at night to sneak them onto the roosts in the big coop. As you may expect, the flocks had to work out their pecking order when they met each other. This led to some short lived cock fighting, but it was interesting to see how they behaved. A few of the roosters just weren't interested in being the top dog. They quickly walked away from the dominant rooster to hang with the hens...smart rooster in my opinion. But 2 of them duked it out for a few rounds until someone won, but I'm really not sure which one that was. There was nothing obvious from my human point of view that tells me which one is now in charge, but I imagine they know.
After we closed up the connection between the 2 runs with both flocks in one run, I noticed that the chicks weren't going into the coop at all. That's where the food and water are and where the nesting boxes live and where they should go to roost and get out of the rain. But they won't go in. They also keep jumping the fence so they can run around the yard or go back into my garden. This is a 4 foot fence they jump out of and a 6 foot fence they jump into. That's just crazy. I think there will be some research into wing clipping going on around here in the near future.
Last night I went out in the rain and muck and lifted a few chicks off of their perch outside in the rain and shoved them into the dry coop, but they came right back out. All together, I probably shoved every chick a into the coop at least once, some 2 or 3 times and only about half of them stayed inside. Dumb chickens. But I tried to help, so I've done my job. Eventually I hope they figure out that the food is inside before they starve to death, but we probably have too many chickens as it is. So a loss of a couple isn't so bad...I guess that's pretty heartless of me, but after last night they lost my pity.