Today, Mabelene and Henrietta saw the great big world–outside of the run, anyway. (Mabelene also experienced her first hard peck from Goldie, too, but we won’t go into detail about that.)
I let them out of the run. Marguerite and Goldie were enjoying some grass, poolside, when I decided to let the little ones out. Marge immediately made a beeline for the area where the babies were exploring, and of course, assuming impending carnage and bloodshed, I made like a blockade and headed her off at the pass. She was insistent about going into that area and, knowing how difficult it is to change a chicken’s mind, I finally let her head into the inner sanctum. And watched. Ready to separate flocks of carnage. And…she marched right past the babies and plopped down in the dirt for a dirt bath.
The rest of the turnout sessions this weekend were similar, with the exception of the aforementioned Goldie peck. The babies move quite fast, and as long as there’s room to run, hide, and perch, this will go fine. I’ve read lots of online advice columns about successfully integrating hens, and I’m confident that I’m doing everything right so far. They know each other, though it may be a stretch to say they actually prefer each other’s company. I’ll take that–just no bloodshed.
I’ve read that when it’s time for the merge, the best procedure is to “quietly place the babies in the adult’s coop after they’ve gone to roost for the night.” Apparently, they’re supposed to wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, you–you’ve been in here all along! I know you!” Right. Knowing how the babies react to being held (due to their lack of human handling as chicks), there’s gonna be no “quietly” about it. It would be much like placing a shrieking baby in the den of a lion after sunset. They could prove me wrong–it’s happened before. But I’m not ready to buy into this process quite yet. The babies know all about the coop–they’ve been exploring it each day and even cuddling up for a daytime nap when the big gals are out in the yard–so I think that in another week or so, after the big girls go to bed, I’ll just open the babies’ cage and see if they head up on in there. And then get up at the break of dawn to assist in the turnout process. Wish me luck!