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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Chicken that Won't Go to Bed (Blog 121)

In Elaine's and my fascinating foray into rearing chickens, another aspect of chicken behavior has manifested itself.  My job is to let our flock out of the hen house in the morning while Elaine's is to put the gang to bed in the evening by making sure all four hens are ensconced in their abode.

But for the past six weeks or so, Dot, who ranks last in the pecking order, has refused to go to bed no matter how late the hour.  Elaine has become increasingly frustrated by Dot's obstinacy, so I have been more and more taking on the evening chore.

This is how things typically unfold in the evening.  Ruby, our alpha hen, goes to roost in the house a good three minutes before any other hen.  Little Spotty, who ranks third, enters next and immediately pitches up next to Ruby.

Three or four minutes more elapse, then Tallulah, second in the pecking order, goes into the house.  It is at that time that Dot goes to the far end of run and awaits at the door.  Elaine refuses to pick up Dot and place her in the house.  And then the two of them engage in a battle of wills concerning which will do something next.  Often the two of them are out there until after dark.

Friend J.J. Alderson who lives a few miles from us says that she has a half dozen or so chickens that likewise refuse to go into their house.  Her misbehaving flock flies up to a table outside the Alderson house and wait for J.J. to see to their bedtime needs.

I won't participate in Dot's stalling tactics (who knows what is going on in the mind of a chicken anyway), scooping her up when I enter the run and placing her on the gangplank leading into the house.  Dot always goes straight in when I do that.

I was wondering if other chicken owners have experienced this behavior and if they could e-mail Elaine and me about their experiences or perhaps post comments here?

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