Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mixed up chickens

Jailbird Vo is Mr. Big's very special friend. This entitles her to missing feathers, bare patches of skin, and bloody scabs. The latest prize in her collection is a sprained leg.

Because of the sprained leg, she squawks every time Mr. Big mounts her. He seems oblivious to her discomfort.

Because the new chicks are living in the new coop, I have no good way to safely isolate a chicken. So I juggled the pecking order instead.

I put Vo in the chick coop. She immediately transformed from the docile low bird to a bloodthirsty seeker of power. She explored the coop, sat on the roost, and ate the food. The first chick in the door was an aggressive red who has a habit of attacking other chicks so she can eat fresh feathers.

They squared off, reared their heads back, and tussled in a noisy feathery fury. Since Vo was already injured, I grabbed the red and took her away before the two could do more than cuss vigorously.

When Oreo and the other reds arrived, Vo was careful to give each one a peck or two or twelve. By sunset, I had to scoot Vo to one end of the roost, ceding her hard-won territory to the terrified chicks.

I placed the aggressive red chick in the adult coop. She went from alpha chick to lowly intruder in just a few heartbeats. She immediately set about trying to hide from the furious Buffy.

With the unsettled pecking order, bedtime is a noisy affair. Mr. Big and Buffy shrilly protest the presence of the interloper. The red chicks cluck their terror of the big bad battle-scarred veteran sitting on their roost.

I can hardly wait for Vo to finish healing.

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