While I don’t have or intend to get poultry of any kind, I’ve discovered chickens' mannerisms provide food for thought. And besides that, raising chickens is a current suburban craze. Just peruse the aisles at any big-box retail farm store and see how much space is dedicated to chicken feed, chicken feeding, chicken housing and, at certain times of the year, live chickens.
Many of our parents and grandparents raised chickens to feed the family out of necessity and hated doing so. I wonder how many suburbanites who are into the chicken craze would do it if someone told them they had to do it.
Be that as it may, here are some things I have learned while observing how chickens are raised, plus five characteristics that make them a downright weird farm animal.
Keeping nest boxes for laying and roosts for sleeping can easily be applied to our human families. Our nest boxes are comfy, well-used couches and chairs, and our roosts are our downy beds.
Be forewarned, says poultry columnist, Kristina Urquhart, if you see old hens or roosters, or young pullets (think teenagers), using nest boxes for sleeping. Your coop setup may be confusing them. The momma birds like to roost high and control the roost, and nest low in their own spaces. So you may have to adjust the boxes or retrain the birds to suit your needs.
Here are those five weird things about chickens:
1. Roosters and pullets need to clean their boxes regularly by removing their droppings (food). Heaven forbid if they have other leavings.
2. Outdoor enclosures are vitally important for roosters and pullets to keep their pointy-toed scratchers clean.
3. Hens must exercise great caution around Bantams lest their tendencies toward growing beards rub off.
4. Hens should remember a rooster’s flight feathers can be clipped if he strays too far from the nest.
5. Watch out for beak-splitting! Did you know chickens’ beaks and toenails grow constantly? Untrimmed beaks beget overhang, or running off at the mouth! Perhaps if we split our beaks or contracted beak overhang, we would be doing a lot less henpecking.