Chicken….it’s not just what’s for dinner. For many aspiring farmers, it’s also their ticket into the Agricultural pearly gates. Some call chicken the gateway animal, because acquiring that first flock is considered an initiation to keeping livestock. Owning chickens doesn’t require as much startup capital as other animals, and several experienced farmers have told me that chickens have many uses on the farm, besides producing delicious pastured raised eggs. These reasons, and many more, make owning chickens something that I dream of. What these experienced farmers forgot to mention, is that these feathery friends of ours, also have another side to them….one that’s far more sinister.
Hi, this is Janice again and the things that I am about to share with you might be shocking and show these birds in a different light! Some of the names of the chickens have been changed to protect the innocent.
If you remember from my previous blogs, I recently started volunteering on a poultry farm. I learned that chicken are like people my first day on the job. Chickens, like people, get extremely frustrated and dangerous when they are hungry for companionship, bored, or just too cocky. Shortly after walking onto the pasture, I was greeted by a group of roosters named Larry, Moe, and Curly, who were dancing around a hen like a bonfire. In a hurry, the farmer shooed these roosters away and I followed suit. I was later informed that the roosters were looking for mating opportunities, and the hen was not interested. There you have it folks, I had officially become a chicken prison guard. I learned a valuable lesson from my mentor that day – there is a such thing as having too many roosters.
After I left the general population, I was taken to an area called the farm infirmary. This is an area that was dedicated for the chickens who were socially disadvantaged and had to be isolated for their protection. Here I met another rooster I will call Buju Bantam, who was, yes you guessed it, a Bantam Rooster. This guy had been subject to bullying because he was the smallest bird on the farm and was under attack. In the infirmary, I also met other chickens who had been the target of gang mentality and needed to recover from injuries they had incurred.
Lastly, I met Dr. Jeckyll. This guy was probably just a little nuts. He attacked one of the farm volunteers one day for what was described to me as “out of the clear blue sky”. He messed up her leg pretty badly with his claws and she ended up having to get medical attention. Take away here is to wear thick pants, tall boots, and always have a good recipe for chicken stew on hand…..
There are a couple of good things that I learned. Since no one has yet to create the Chicken Tender App for birds, chickens’ only way to find companionship is on the farm where they reside. Having a good hen to rooster ratio is important. The farmer that I work with informed me that for the most part, many of the roosters get along with each other, but there are a few that sometimes just aren’t good matches for the flock. I also learned that it is good to have forms of entertainment for chickens as well. In addition to chickens being able to roam and run on pasture, where they will be occupied with foraging, there are also items that can be purchased for entertainment such as chicken swings. I didn’t know that those existed and there is no guarantee that this would work for all chickens but may be worth a try. I will keep this in mind when I get my first flock.
Nothing has changed, I am still dreaming of owning chickens and looking forward to having my first flock. The experiences that I am gaining by working with my farm mentor, will hopefully prepare me for what I might encounter in the future.