My chickens and their personalities is written in memory of my wonderful birds as I need to leave them to new owners who have agreed to look after them just as I have done so. The wonderful thing is that they get to stay here on the property they have known over the past five years. They can continue to call it home, this place they are familiar with. I figure they will miss me and wonder where I’ve gone, but they will soon learn to appreciate their new owners. I’m the one who will miss them all so much. 🙁
Roosty – the boss of all the birds
Roosty is the ultimate boss, or he likes to think so! We first picked him up from friends together with four females early in 2014. I have to say that he is the gentlest rooster you could ever ask for. There has never been a time when we’ve had reason to be afraid of him. He loves to eat out of my hand and will even hop up on my lap on the odd occasion.
Does he crow?
Yes he crows! Of-course he crows! But, where we have him housed has never bothered us at all, and to our knowledge he hasn’t bothered our neighbour neither… and we did ask!
We do have one problem with him which I will document later, but other than that he is the perfect rooster. He’s gentle with his girls and is forever on the look-out for predators or any problem. If there is any fighting around him he will rush in to break it up. I’ve even seen him leap high into the air after a wild bird that was dive-bombing one of the girls… I didnt’ get to see clearly what kind of bird it was.
Finding a suitable nest
One of his jobs is to help his girls find a suitable nest. Here he is snuggled down and what you can’t hear is the way he is communicating with one of the hens about how great this nest is! They must have decided he was telling the truth because a lot of them love to use this box on our deck. I’ve seen him do this same thing in multiple places.
The first four girls
Joy likes to keep to herself so I’ve not had a great deal of interaction with her. I called her Joy because each time I had a little story to relate on her I was calling her ‘the scowly one’! She looks a bit cranky. Although I usually find something I can relate to in a bird before I name her, I couldn’t call her ‘Grumpy’, so went the other way and named her Joy.
Aunty was named because at one time in her life she took into her care my silver guinea fowl. He was being chased off by the other guineas and he needed a friend. Silver was quite young, and in the photo Aunty is going through a moult… that’s why she looks so scraggly.
Here you can see both Aunty and Joy together enjoying some shade under a tree. This is how she looks now.
Top Chook was named simply because when I was relating various stories about her to the family, I referred to her as the top chook. It became her name. She’s easily identifiable from Aunty, although they are similar. Aunty has more distinct wattles and just generally looks different.
Here she is again. After visiting this box on a regular basis, laying an egg each time, although I took them all away from her she still went broody. I’d let her sit there during the day and pick her up and take her to the pen for food, water and sleep each night. In the end I relented as she just didn’t want to give up… so I gave her two eggs.
I left her there in the box, still taking her to the pen for food and water, but I let her return for the night. Broody hens can be a force to be reckoned with, but she didn’t ever try to peck me. I did this right up until a few days before the eggs were due to hatch. Then I transferred her to the hatching pen. A few days later she produced just one little chicken and unfortunately, although the other chick was fully formed, it didn’t make it.
She’s been a good mum too and is very defensive of her chick ‘Silhouette’. We are watching with interest to see how Silhouette develops. She has a few little markings on her chest but just black other than that.
Whitefeather was an exceptional mother
I used her three times as she was so caring for her young. You may be wondering why I called a black chook, Whitefeather? It’s hard to tell from this photo but she had about 4 white feathers on top of her head, hence the name! This box we placed on our deck as an ornament. We filled it with some hay and sat the chicken ornament on there thinking it looked ever so nice. Well, so did everyone else think it was nice! They’d get up there and push the ornament aside and snuggle down to the serious business of egg-laying.
As Whitefeather grew older she developed more little white feathers on her head. Here she is with her last brood of chicks. The male (at the back) was found another home but the other three are still with us today… Coprice, Ebony & Lacy. Unfortunately Whitefeather is no longer with us. She was my littlest little girl.
Then we added two more
It was decided to buy another couple of hens, so from a friend we bought BB which stands for Black Beauty, or Big Bird! She is a big black Australorp. She’s a very placid girl who currently is getting along very well with Silver the Guinea Fowl. He has total respect for her.
A little warning though about when she’s broody. She doesn’t get pecky but she does grumble a lot. Also it is my suspicion that she is the reason that Whitefeather is no longer with us… I think they got into a fight and BB broke her neck. I can’t prove it but I did see the pair of them fighting at a time before this happened. BB is my biggest chook and Whitefeather was my smallest chook… go figure! Both were broody at the time. She needs to be watched when she turns broody… just in case.
Bluebell is a blue Australorp and she came to us at the same time as BB. With a name like Bluebell, she could also be called BB! I don’t think I have ever known Bluebell to go broody, if she has, I’ve forgotten. She’s also got a lovely nature.
Brood Number Two
Here are three of Whitefeather’s chicks… Buffy, Katie & Red. As you can see they are in that scraggly pullet stage, but all of them ended up being beautiful birds.
Buffy took on the Wyandotte type of comb while Red had the big traditional rooster comb. These two, together with Katie were so close… they were always together. This was until the day came when it was decided between these two that they should fight for mating rights with Katie. Oh dear, this was not good! Blood everywhere! I was so upset. After a few days it was decided that Red should be declared the winner and things settled back down to being close brothers and sisters again.
Of-course, once that happened, I didn’t lose anytime putting a sign at our front gate for a free rooster and eventually they both found new homes.
This left me with Katie
I don’t seem to have any individual photos of Katie, not that I can find anyway. But here she is with her two brothers. She had the most beautiful copper colouring over her head, neck and shoulders. To me it looked like a cape… hence the name… Kate, or Katie.
Would she join Roosty’s harem?
She had a lovely friendly nature… BUT… although I thought she would be absorbed into Roosty’s harem, that wasn’t to be the case. You see, for some reason, Roosty didn’t like her. He would trick her into thinking he wanted to mate with her… she would go down and spread her wings… BUT… he would simply hold her down and peck her head. I’d seen him do it a couple of times but it didn’t look too serious and I thought it would pass, but one day I went down and found her head a complete mess. Oh dear, there was blood everywhere and I was almost convinced that she was missing an eye. I was completely horrified!
How could my lovely, gentle rooster be so cruel? I couldn’t understand it. Anyway, I was able to place her in the hospital and I nursed her back to health. I can’t tell you how happy I was on the day she finally opened the eye and she was fine!
Of-course I couldn’t let the rooster near her again so I started to lock them up and let them out at different times.
Help and a Happy Ending?
Eventually I asked a friend if she would take Katie and it turned out that she immediately got along fine with the rooster and was as happy as can be.
I wish I could say the story had a happy ending, oh how I wish! Turns out, after Katie had been living there for a month or more, that along came some eagles. My friend lost a number of birds on that day, of which Katie was one of them. I was mortified!
Whitefeather’s Third Brood
I found a home and I kept the three girls… Lacy, Ebony & Coprice.
Ebony has a wonderful nature. She allows you to pick her up and is so very friendly. That is, until she goes broody… then it’s ‘watch out’! She is the worst of all the hens as she turns into a nasty little brute and is the only hen that’s managed to her beak into my hand.
When I go to pick them up off the nest, I always slide my hand onto the back of their head. This allows me to stop them pecking if they have a desire to do so. But with Ebony… it’s caretaker beware!
She’s very determined to sit on eggs too and it takes ages to finally get her off the brood. Then she will turn around and go broody again not long after. So she goes from being this gorgeous little creature through to a wild axeman, pendulum style!
Do you notice the stare?
You’ll notice that she has that typical stare the hens get when they are sitting on some eggs. It’s because they go into a trance. I guess it’s to help them sit there for so long. Something else you’ll notice is that her feathers are all puffed up… another sign of a broody hen. Once she, or any other hen, is taken off the nest for a break, they have a certain ‘book book’ sound that also belongs to a broody hen.
Lacy was so named because of the white markings around her throat… I thought it looked like a piece of lace. I’ve not had a real lot to do with her to date as she’s not been broody. She likes to hang around me but has never come to me to eat out of my hand… that is, until today. Of-course, she doesn’t understand how to eat out of my hand so at the moment she takes fingers and all, but after a few times I noticed she began to take only the food. Good girl… she’s learning.
In particular, I was delighted with Coprice as all my other hens were black… she was such a sight for sore eyes!
I’m afraid she comes with a story attached also. As she grew, the rooster didn’t like her either. Now this made me wonder if it was the colour he despised. He has that lovely colour in himself, but I think he believes that all his girls should be wearing a burka or they are not acceptable. One day when I was out he took to Coprice (named because of her copper colouring) and made a huge hole in her head. It was awful. Some would say, ‘serves me right’ because I knew he did it once before, but it didn’t occur to me that he’d pick on the colour. Remember Katie had quite a bit of the same colouring.
I nursed her back
I nursed her back to full health and she’s become my favourite little darling. All I used on her was on her was Manuka Honey. It works like a dream… healed the big hole in her head and in the end, you’d never know that she had been attacked. She is so cute and talks to me all the time, I mean, she really talks… a real variety of chooky sounds that none of the others do. I could have ripped the head off the rooster with my own bare hands! It means I can’t give him away because you would never know when he might take a dislike to another coloured chicken, and I can’t bring myself to cut his head off myself.
His punishment is to be locked up
So, we’ve come to an agreement that he is locked up every afternoon while Coprice comes out after being locked up for the morning. I’m thinking of finding another home for Coprice so she can live a happy normal life… somewhere safe from the eagles!
As you can see, she grew into a beautiful bird, very similar to the chicken ornament.
The last little chicken – Silhouette
I think this is going to be a really nice natured bird. She’s just gone 10-11 weeks old and is becoming more independent of her mum although she still chooses to spend a lot of time with her. I find now that if she is separated from Top Chook she doesn’t experience so much separation anxiety as she was doing. Being the only chick she has relied on mum more than they do if they’ve got siblings.
Whitefeather’s first brood consisted of seven guinea fowl and one duckling. Follow the story here.