Raising urban chickens isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This is not turning out to be the idyllic food source that I had hoped for. My flock is small (3 hens) and when Henny Penny up and died of unknown causes back in April, my flock was reduced to two hens.
Chicken Little, a black sex-linked hen, laid eggs all through the winter while Henrietta, a black Australorp, took a break. Then Henrietta resumed laying about the time Chicken Little stopped to molt. One laying hen wasn’t supplying us with all the eggs we wanted, so I took steps to enlarge our flock.
But the new barred rock hen from Centennial Farm didn’t get along with my existing two hens. Um, actually, it was the other way around. Chicken Little, who is half Rhode Island red and aggressive, took an instant dislike to the new girl and pecked her neck bloody.
I couldn’t stand to see the sweet new hen get beat up, so I built her a separate enclosure. It isn’t roofed and is make of rabbit fence instead of hardware cloth, so it is exposed to the elements and the night critters. Not ideal.
The advantage is that the chickens can see each other. They don’t like being alone. I’m hoping that in time they will adjust to each other so I can keep them all in the secure enclosure.
Meanwhile, I put the older hens into the new enclosure for a few hours at a time so they can work out their dominance issues. When I do that, the new hen sits up on a perch, out of the reach of aggressive Chicken Little.
The chickens like the larger enclosure so much that I may eventually make a door so that they can all three use it in the daytime. I could then close the door between the un-roofed enclosure and the secure one after they “go to bed” in the coop. But they still don’t get along well enough for me to leave them all in the same enclosure all day and all night. Let’s just say that this is a work in progress.
Meanwhile, Henrietta is molting and not laying. Chicken Little is over two years old and is laying only 4-5 eggs a week. And the new girl, who is still nameless, is so stressed out by the move that she stopped laying two days after we got her. VBS. Keeping urban chickens ain’t easy.