With all the young hens around him these days, the rooster reminds me of an aging rock star with a bunch of groupies.
I added a handful of pullets in November. Now this year’s additions outnumber the old originals.
Naturally, they chose their own methods of integrating with the flock.
I moved them in at night, gave them a sawhorse to perch on, and carefully strung up a canvas barrier, so that they could spend a day of two learning that they live in the greenhouse now.
Right. The moment that I released the hens in the morning, flap flap flap! One of the new additions burst right over the canvas and rushed right into the middle of the others. Scratching like she’d always been there, she was instantly indistinguishable from the other pullets.
Just great. Now when I open up the greenhouse, she’s not going to have any idea where she is or how to get back. Sure enough, a few minutes after all the hens file out and down the path the usual direction, there’s the one hen wandering in the grass, cooing querulously. At least now I know which one she is.
I started to chase her; herding working as well as it usually does. She had that natural chicken talent of plunging off into something dense at the last minute before going where you want her to. So I chased her, and she got more and more agitated, and louder, and finally, she was screaming and flapping away from me hot on her henny heels, and… finally, the rooster got involved.
He started making pronouncements and she started veering towards his voice and all the other hens squawking in sympathetic anxiety. Roo to the rescue; he came running, pounced on her, mated her, and that was that. She belonged to the flock, and she was by the rooster’s side all day (I learned to recognize her by the colour of her legs).
The other new hens were not quite so bold, and deferred to my plan for them for a whole day. After a day of looking cornered and anxious, they flew over the barrier too, and came back to the greenhouse at night perfectly.