The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Moving a flock of chickens

Old Golden Comet hensDespite refusing to name the chickens in our flock, I can tell them all apart and I enjoy watching their varied personalities.  On flock moving day, I opened the gate and rattled some laying pellets and our two ancient hens came running fast as you please.  I think these two old birds would follow me anywhere --- they've had four years on our farm to learn that my shovel turns up worms, my bucket is full of compost, my wheelbarrow overflows with chickweed, and my hands are sprinklers of grubs.  Sure, the old hens had to stop now and then to nibble on a luscious sprout along the way, but they didn't veer off from my path.

Chickens exploring their new coopThe young golden comet is nearly as keen as the old girls, so she followed on their heels, but the rooster was a bit dubious.  He was raised by our white cochin, whose sole purpose in the flock is mothering chicks, so he's a bit leery of human contact.  Still, when three quarters of his harem fled the old pasture, the rooster decided he'd better follow along.  He was less attuned to the rattle of grain than to the locations of his flock and danger, so I had to ask Mark to back off as he filmed from the rear --- Mark's proximity was getting the rooster too excited and I was afraid the whole flock would turn into a pillar of salt (or maybe a herd of cats) if they looked back.

Chasing a cochin out the gate

Within five minutes, three hens and a rooster had walked calmly into their new pasture, but the white cochin was nowhere to be seen.  I closed the pasture gate and headed back Letting the cochin rejoin the flockto see where she'd gotten sidetracked, and was surprised to find her still in the original pasture!  She was remarkably unwilling to run free, and I had to get behind her and chase her out the gate.  Even then, the cochin kept trying to double back and our least pastured hen was finally ignominously carried to her new home.  While her flockmates were scratching through leaves and chowing down on chickweed, the white hen wandered aimlessly through the pasture, showing the clear difference genetics can make in a hen's foraging ability.

Chickens on pasture

Stay tuned for more on the flock's introduction to their new pasture and on our chicken plans for 2011.

Our flock was excited to see their chicken waterer waiting for them in the new pasture.

Chickens drinking from an automatic waterer

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Your girls (and rooster) are very well behaved. Some of my hens will come to the sound of feed but there is always a few that don't think it is worth the fight. They just watch the others run off and go back to scratching. Congrats on the move. The girls look happy.
Comment by Erich Mon Mar 21 01:08:34 2011
It's easier right now because our flock is so small --- I've whittled them down to the really good chickens in preparation for breeding them this spring. I suspect if we had many more birds, chaos would have ensued.
Comment by anna Mon Mar 21 07:59:23 2011

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