Integration – first steps

The B Team outside the back door have been out of sight of the Hen Run and Garden. The A Team girls have heard them, of course, but had no idea they were in the ‘same space’ as it were. So in order to begin to integrate the two broods, we had to move the Eglu into the Hen Garden, into a space separate but visible from the Hen Run …

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But it was a long, logistical puzzle to get there! First of all we had to find a ‘holding pen’ for the B Team … so I fenced off a small area around the compost bins. Picking up three of the B Team was easy since they crowd around my feet expecting treats! The fourth hen, the one with the largest comb (let’s call her Betsy), won’t come close, so that was a two man job … but she’s not too bright, so it wasn’t difficult.

Next, DH began to empty the black compost bin, while I moved the netting around the Eglu. I used it to fence off an area for the Moppets …

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… and then spent some time cutting the grass while DH continued to work on moving the compost. That job too had several stages, since he wanted to put some of it in the front garden, which meant digging up an old sage plant to create a space for the bay tree which is currently in a pot (and has been for some years). These things are never simple, are they?! He was working alongside the holding pen, so had a lovely time feeding the girls slugs, worms and other grubs from the compost. I’m so glad they like slugs – our previous girls wouldn’t touch them :o

Once that was done, we moved the Eglu, and released the girls from the holding pen into their new space. To allow the A Team to get a better view, I put a wire fence panel across … and stayed to watch what happened next.

At first, all three of the A Team crowded out to see what was going on. As did the B Team … all except Betsy, who now had the area round the compost bins to herself. I’d like to think it was a conscious choice to stay and take advantage of the situation, but I suspect it was simply that she really didn’t realise what was at stake!

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In these situations, it soon becomes clear who are the top hens from each brood … all the B Team drifted off except Bertha (I’ve really no idea how we’re going to tell them apart when they have feathers again) …

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… and eventually, Molly.

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There were a few skirmishes, but Bertha kept wandering off – after all, she was the one in new surroundings, with plenty of things to do and eat and places to explore. Molly however, stayed on guard, alert and focussed, and of course, Bertha kept coming back to see if she was still there.

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Eventually, she stood her ground as top hen of her brood …

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Click on the picture for a video of the encounter …

With the fence in the way, nothing was resolved, and Bertha soon wandered off again to explore. In the meanwhile, the other girls from the B Team had discovered the compost bin …

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… and she soon joined them! With four of them in there they were all soon covered as they were pelted with soil and grass cuttings as the others dug down for slugs and bugs.

So I decided that for tonight, enough was enough, and shut the A Team back into the Hen Run …

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… they didn’t seem too happy about it, but there’ll be another opportunity tomorrow …

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6 Comments

  1. Kate

     /  May 6, 2013

    It’s complicated, this hen keeping lark, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • LB

       /  May 6, 2013

      Sometimes! But it’s always interesting and usually a lot of fun πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Great pics and it looks like you’ve made a great start on introducing them all. I know what you mean about one ‘simple’ gardening job turning into another ~ you can lose a whole afternoon that way! Well done on all the work so far, they all look very contented πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. I shall be following with interest as I contemplate integrating my banyts. I have come to realise how tricky the whole thing is and how much patience it takes. Mine are calm though with the wire between them, it’s just when they are together that it kicks off.

    Reply
  4. Ooooh, I’m loving this! (a suggestion for telling them apart: colored leg bands.)

    Reply
    • LB

       /  May 8, 2013

      We have used them in the past, but I didn’t want to bother the girls with them when they first arrived … perhaps that was a mistake?!

      Reply

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