Chicken in a Bucket

chickens dust bathing Ok, it’s actually chickens in a garden trug, not a bucket. I just couldn’t resist the blog title. The muddy young pullets taking a dust bath are the chicks my broody ex battery hen adopted in June. Oh how they have grown. They are Lohmann Browns, a sex link hybrid commonly found in commercial egg farms (all types of management ie caged, barn and free range) for their high egg production.

brown chickenFirst up we have Binky, she appears to be the boss of the group and started laying super early at 15 weeks old. She’s a deep glossy brown and very vocal. Oh and she likes her food. Greedy she is.

garden trugBinky and her ‘sisters’ broke out of their shells in a hatchery supplying pullets to caged farm systems, at 2 days old they came home with me in a tatty shoe box and I tucked them up safe and warm in the soft feathers of a broody hen.

Pictured below is Cheska, the blonde bombshell of the group. She’s a light buff colour that I’ve seen only once before in ex battery hens I re-home. She’s quite stocky with a shorter neck and smaller head than her sisters, not quite Buff Orpington stature but similarities are there.

garden trugMillie is laying too, her big head-gear an indication. She’s heavily patterned across her back and quite leggy ( anyone spot the name theme going on here yet?).

garden trugLast up we have Phoebe-Lettice, I just call her Phoebe. She’s very fond of my shoulder or the top of my head and hitches a ride every morning as I drink my morning tea.

garden henNow that they’re all grown up their mum doesn’t wish to roam with or raise them anymore, she prefers her own company as she did before going broody. I’m grateful for the experience of watching the chicks learn from her; how to eat crumb, scratch the ground, bathe in the dirt and catch flying insects mid-air. How she called them when she sensed danger and how they disappeared in lightning speed into her feathers for safety, their little faces peeking through her feathers to see if it was safe to come out. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

hen and chicksPumpkin did a fantastic job of raising them, I could see how much she enjoyed the role of being a mother. I’m happy she had the opportunity to fulfil yet more of her natural instincts, strong buried instincts denied to her throughout her time as a caged laying hen.

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27 comments

  1. Those are some cute girls you’ve got there! I love when my girls take dirt baths. Watching them try to keep their heads upright while convulsing in the pit warms my heart. I’ve had mine since April and haven’t had any eggs yet. I can’t wait. Did you incubate the eggs at all or just let momma do the brooding? This is my first go at raising chickens, I’m loving it. I’ve even trained my dog Sasha to cuddle with them. All is harmonious in the world!

    Wanna see my girls?

    http://mindyourdirt.com/2014/10/19/meet-the-family/

    Thanks for sharing!
    yours,
    James

  2. Oh Lord—when I saw the first picture, I thought you’d gone and slaughtered all of your hens and put them in a bucket! I was so relieved to read that they were only bathing.
    I love hen’s faces when they’re in the midst of a good dust bath—they usually have a slightly dazed, far away expression of total bliss. So sweet!!!

  3. Hi James, thanks for your comment and sharing your girls, cute baby photos and very nice hens indeed. I love the name Red Sonja. I didn’t incubate the eggs, my broody adopted her chicks at a couple of days old after a failed hatch.

    Best wishes
    Karen

  4. I knew I should have left the first line in before editing and removing prior to publishing……. ‘Don’t panic, they’re not dead!’

    They really get into their baths, sleep, purr and roll. Bliss!

  5. Wonderful post and photos! I recently got to know a little red hen at the barn where I keep my horses. She’s so tender and loves to be held and stroked. “Chicken therapy”! I felt so peaceful and grounded holding her. How wonderful to have your chickens near you all the time :)

  6. How wonderful to see, Pumpkin (and you of course!) has done a fantastic job raising her little adopted brood it truly is a privilege to be able to witness an ex battery hen do what comes naturally. Not without heartache but the end result and pleasure on their little faces is wonderful, you just cannot tire of stopping, watching and enjoying their simple pleasure and behaviours.

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