Let me explain: A few weeks ago my husband rescued 10 battery hens, the hens were destined for broken necks simply because the lorry taking them south could only carry a certain amount, this left a surplus that needed homes.
10 was all we dared to take due to room, we have plenty of acreage but nothing big enough to house more than 10 of them.
2 of them died within the day, we think this was due to their appalling body condition as we took the ones that looked the scrawniest and were pretty bald. On picking them up you could tell these were the ones that hadn't the heart to fight for the food but we hoped that plenty of food, water and warmth that they didn't have to fight for would soon see them right.
After the two died the rest of them seemed to settle really well and our original hens and cockerel seemed to take to them fine despite the obvious size difference - ours were 3 times the size.
So all was well, until a couple of days ago when I noticed our hen 'Big Momma' attacking one of the rescues everytime it moved and this poor hen was literally screaming.
I grabbed the rescue hen, let the others outside and then put the tiny hen down outside to have a forage about. I was gobsmacked at what 'Big Momma' did next - she seemed to stand up really tall, looked this little hen square in the eye and ran at it and jumped on her pecking at her head.
That was it I grabbed the little rescue hen and picked her up, it was only then that I noticed she hadn't put on weight like the others and just didn't seem to be doing as well, it was obvious that she was still being bullied at food times and was still very underweight.
I made the decision then to cage the little rescue hen and feed her up before reintroducing her to the others once she has gained strength and feathers - she looks so pathetic bless her!
|Killer hen 'Big Momma'|
|Rescue hen:- Bald butt and scrawny but otherwise happy.|
These rescue hens are so so bald but they're putting on weight and doing really well.
|poor rescue hen that is bullied by 'Big Momma'|
Also the wattles were bent over on most of them when they arrived, most appear to have recovered to their natural position now except for the poor hen that I've had to move to a protected area, she just hasn't recovered at all.
Still, she has a safe place to hide for a while now and doesn't have to fight for food or water. As she plumps up I will gradually reintroduce her to the others and let her walk around outside with them, but I'll be there the whole time to protect her from Big Momma until she can fend for herself.
I'm actually not a chicken person! I always said I would never ever have one due to childhood memories of them pooping all over my ponies stable door. That stuff would set like cement and stink to high heaven.
But I'm quite attached to the ones we have and I'm amazed that the rescue ones are extremely friendly. They fly onto my arms when I'm watching them, they jump onto my back when I'm cleaning out their water and they follow me everywhere outside - they love being picked up and cuddled.
Plus that cement poop is fabulous for the compost heap!
|Cockerel 'Romeo' that is supposed to keep the hens in place...but doesn't.|
|'Missy', the only hen that Romeo is actually interested in.|
It'll be nice to post pictures in a few months of healthy rescue hens and a perfectly happy, healthy and taekwondo expert little hen :)
Big Momma is now facing murder charges as poor little hen has gone to the chicken coop in the sky. I've told Big Momma that I won't be accepting a lesser charge of manslaughter either because I witnessed the assault - Big Momma doesn't appear ruffled!