My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


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I have forgiven Helen Hen

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I have forgiven Helen Hen.

I forgive her for trying to put herself at the top of the pecking order by “attacking” Hannah Hen each time she came out for her broody breaks.
I forgive her for coming inside my house and leaving a dropping on my carpet.
I forgive her for not looking out for her sister when her sister was being chased away from the treats by the others.
I have even forgiven her for being so mean to my chicks.

I feel sorry for her.
She hasn’t laid an egg for three months.
Her feathers lack lustre.
Her comb is dull.
But her tail feathers are starting to come back.

Maybe she will come out of her moult soon.
Maybe her comb will grow nice and big and red again soon.
Maybe her feathers will become glossy again soon.
Maybe she will lay me another egg soon.

Helen Hen is on the right in the photo.
You can see her pathetic looking comb.
Hilda Hen is on the left. She started laying again a few weeks ago. Her comb is large and red.
Hannah Hen is in the middle. She never stops laying, unless she is broody of course.

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Helen Hen wants what everyone else has

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Helen is my highly strung chicken who wants what everyone else has. Treat feeding time must be very traumatic for Helen.

When we arrive home from work, the chickens hear our car come up the drive and that is their queue to crowd around the glass doors, make lots of noise, try to look cute and and watch my every move inside the house until they see me with their treat tin.
When they see me coming towards them with the treat tin, they get very excited and try to climb through the glass doors.

Once I get the glass sliding door open, Helen and Hilda are right by my feet watching me put on my outdoor shoes (the ones that I don’t mind getting pooh on). Once I have my outdoor shoes on, they start to walk right beside my feet, criss crossing in front of me, looking up at their treats.

Hannah Hen plays it a bit more cool and walks ahead of us to where she knows I will throw the treats.
The five teenage chicks are also waiting but they are not allowed to wait at the glass door. That is Helen’s space and so therefore the chicks are not invited. But they are not far away and they  hang back and wait patiently for their treats, which they know they get last.

So today I had scratch (lots of yummy mixed grains), kitchen leftovers and cracked corn. I threw a handful of scratch (their favourite) in front of Helen and Hilda and throw a handful to Hannah who is always standing a little further away. Helen pecked furiously at the scratch trying to eat a much as she could, glaring at Hilda in case she was eating too much.
Then Helen caught sight of Hannah eating her little pile of scratch. So Helen ran as fast as she could over to Hannah’s pile and started pecking furiously at hers. Hannah is top hen and she was having none of this and gave Helen a peck and a growl and so off Helen ran back to Hilda’s pile.

By this time I had given the chicks some bread, some little bits of tomato and other leftover goodies. I feed the chicks a few metres away from Helen because she chases them.

But suddenly, Helen caught sight of the chicks and their treats, so she abandoned Hilda and the scratch and ran towards the chicks. I quickly threw her some bread of her own so that she wouldn’t bother the chicks. But no, she slowed, briefly looked at the bread I had thrown her and then continued on to the chicks. She chased them away from their food and around the table and chairs a few times and then went back to eat the chick’s bread while the chicks huddled under the table waiting for her to go away.

Then Helen spied out of the corner of her eye, Hilda eating the bread that I had thrown for Helen to stop her from going near the chicks. So Helen abandoned the chicks’s bread and ran after Hilda, who by this time had gulped down the last of that bread.
So then Helen ran over to where the scratch treats hd been and found that while she was chasing the chicks, Hilda and Hannah had eaten all the scratch.

So back to the chicks to see if she could steal the last of their bread. But alas, the chicks had seen their opportunity and had come back and gobbled it all up.

Poor Helen. It must be a very unsatisfying life wanting what everyone else has. If only she could work out that there is enough for everyone.


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A hen in my house

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My mum let those pesky chicks out again with their bossy mother, Hannah Hen!

I have tried to be good today and not annoy those pesky chicks too much, especially when my mum is watching. Last time they were out, that bossy Hannah Hen attacked me every time I went near one of those pesky chicks. I was only trying to give them a peck to make sure they understood who was boss.

But today as I say, I have tried to be good. Early in the afternoon I came up from the bush and my mum was sitting outside so I put on my wistful, cute look and she went  inside and got me some treats from the purple tin. Bossy Hannah and her chicks were still down in the bush so my mum scattered my treats around for me and Hilda (I have to share with that Hilda as she  is my sister and she follows me around everywhere) and then my mum went back inside to put the treat tin away.

Well, that bossy Hannah Hen and her pesky chicks must have heard me and Hilda pecking away madly, as next thing I knew, there she was with those pesky chicks, glaring at me and wanting my treats. So I went inside the house to get my mum to tell her that bossy Hannah Hen and those pesky chicks were eating my treats. That’ll fix them. She will come out and growl them.

How indignant do I feel! When she saw me inside she growled at ME! She chased me outside and then had the audacity to follow me out and then talk sweet nothings to those pesky chicks. Doesn’t matter that I missed out on MY treats.


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Chicken pecking order challenge

I have read about pecking order challenges, particularly when there is a broody but I didn’t think one of my Barnevelders would do this.

Hannah Hen is being a good mum-to-be so far and is sitting very tightly on her eggs. She comes off her nest to drink, pooh and eat (in that order) about every 2 to 3 days. When she comes off, it is always early morning so the 3 chickens are let out at the same time.

Hannah Hen runs to the water and and has a massive drink. She then runs around a little and does her business and has a little flap of her wings and a preen, then she runs back towards the hen house and pecks a few grains from the feed bowl before hopping back on her nest. All of this usually takes about 5 minutes.

Hannah Hen is the matriarch and very much number one in the pecking order.
Hilda Hen is number two in the pecking order and can sometimes be allowed to feed from the same treat tin as Hannah Hen.
Helen Hen (the one in my blog header picture) is number three in the pecking order and because we only have three chickens, she is at the bottom of the heap.

The last two times that Hannah Hen has been out for her 5 minute break, Helen Hen has become vey aggressive towards her. She makes a running / flying leap at Hannah and then quickly runs a few metres away and then runs back at her and stands aggressively in a “face off”. They then both fly up at each other a couple of times before Helen gives up, or pretends to give up. If she sees another opportunity to “get” Hannah again before she goes back on the nest, Helen will take these opportunities with gusto.

What has happened to my harmony. I didn’t think my gentle Barnies would be so cruel. Other people’s chickens, yes! But not mine.


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A visiting dog hurt my chicken!

Well, the dog didn’t actually hurt my chicken. Helen Hen did it to herself but I will blame the dog because this is my story.

When I read other blogs about chickens getting hurt or killed, the culprits are usually foxes, hawks or visiting (either invited or uninvited) dogs. So when I look at that list, I am thinking that if anything is likely to hurt my chickens, it would be the visiting dog.

So when a visitor came last weekend with a very big, young dog, I decided to put the chickens back in the run to keep them safe. For some reason I thought it would be ok to let the dog outside (under my very watchful eye) to see how the chickens and the dog reacted. After all, what can happen with the chickens safely in the coop? This dog will be a regular visitor and I don’t always want him in the house when he comes to visit.

Well, I didn’t expect what happened next.

The dog went outside and looked at the chickens. As soon as the two Barnevelders saw the dog (Hannah was in the hen house) they squawked, flew against the run flapping their wings and went crazy. When the dog saw this, he got very excited and lunged at the coop (I think he was trying to play as he is still a puppy, albeit a huge one). This made the chickens squawk louder, flap their wings harder and go crazier.

I screamed and the visitor grabbed the dog by the collar and took him back into the house. When I checked on the chickens to see if they were ok from their dog ordeal, I noticed Helen had blood dripping down her face. How on earth could this have happened?

I looked around the run to see what could have caused it. Then I saw that they had flown into the corner of the run in such a panic that they had popped the pins that held the wire in place and a sharp bit must have cut Helen Hen somewhere on her head. There was blood splattered on the outside of the hen house and all through the pine shavings on the floor inside the house.

Well, that was last weekend. I couldn’t write about it then as I was too upset. She is healing nicely and is happy again and I am very relieved. She had a small rip at the base of her comb on her head and she stopped laying for three days. But all is back to normal in our hen house.