We’ve decided to get out of the chicken business for a spell. Our last batch of hens had proven to be so troublesome, I decided it was best to pass them along to a friend and take a break from chickens this season.
The main problem was that these hens refused to stay put. My practice had been to keep the chickens on pasture, where they can scratch and peck and eat bugs and worms, while adding fertility to the soil. To do this, I housed them in a mobile pasture pen fenced in with electrified netting. This typically had been enough to keep the chickens in the pasture and (mostly) out of trouble.
Not so with this latest flock. Almost immediately after letting them out of the pen in the morning, each and every one of them would fly over the fence and roam all about the farm causing trouble. One of their favorite things was to scratch all through the wood chip mulch in my perennial beds, making a huge mess and driving me batty. Then they started going into the greenhouse and hopping on the tables to snack on the seedlings. The last straw was the day they got into the summer squash patch in the field and pecked away at the zucchini.
After spending the better part of last season chasing the hens all around the farm, I hoped after the winter they would calm down and start cooperating. No such luck—this spring they went right back to their wayward habits. Enough was enough. I packed up the flock and took them to a farmer friend with more room for them to roam.
We’ll miss the eggs for sure, but one dividend from downsizing the flock is that it made room for something I’ve wanted to try for I while now: ducks. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up half a dozen little ducklings from Family Farm and Home, and they’re just the cutest. Hopefully they will be more well behaved than the chickens. (So far, they are!)