New Harmony Farm – Chickens in Magaliesberg
Ruth has sent us some more news on how it is going with her new layers and how there transition into real chicken life after coming out of a battery operation is going.
To those of you who missed part 1, you may want to go back and read it here – Part 1 – New Harmony Farms – Healing One Chick At a Time.
Here is the update from Ruth, on how it is going at New Harmony with the new layers. This story so evidently shows us the damage that is done to the instinct of a chicken in a battery operation, at the same time though, it equally shows us about how healing occurs as they learn to grow into their chicken-ness, week by week.
Have now had the point-of-lay hens for 1 week now. Actually they are called pullets. Well, much changes have taken place for them. They are accepting the water easily in the round drinkers but will not drink from the water troughs. Troughs are the place to find food only. I can hear when they are getting hungry because they start to peck away at anything silver in the house. I have found that if I whistle quietly when I walk in they do not frighten. In fact, the hens are becoming bolder by the day. They do not hesitate to peck you if you are taking too long with the food or the water.
There is one thing that I do not know if I will get out of them – that of mass movement. The last lot of hens I got never lost it either. Every one of them do the same thing together – all fright, all eat, all run. It is difficult to explain – everything seems to be done in a wave effect. That being said – some of the hens are going outside. There is food and water outside all the time. Most that do come out stay pretty close to the building, but about 40 have been seen out at one time. When half of them are coming out regularly, I will move the food further away, and feed less inside. I do so want them to have a dust bath, and have put a load of sand in the enclosure. This means that they do not have to dig to make the dirt loose, the sand is loose, ready and available.
In the morning I put the one side up so that the sun streams into the house. This they seem to be enjoying more and more. I know that all is well when I find a group of them lying in the sun sunning themselves, as my other hens do regularly.
No eggs yet, but signs of preparedness are starting to show. If a hen gets touched, she immediately flattens herself on the ground with her wings slightly extended. This means that she is ready for the rooster – which tells me that the body is preparing for egg laying. The hens are really very healthy and look cared for, and I am sure are going to be a credit to the farm.