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Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Very Chilly Bedtime For Chickens

The garden looks very uninviting, the snow from five days ago is all dirty and icy.  More snow has been predicted and tonight we have had frozen rain which crackles as it falls.  When the light gets to this stage in the evening, three chicken girls waddle their way reluctantly to bed.  Kids do not like bedtime and neither do chickens.  They have supper each night, if they eat before bed it is supposed to keep them warmer for the night.  Tonight they had a can of sweetcorn.  They also like 'Chicken Candy':
Mixed Corn
Tonight I thought I would photograph their bedroom for you.
These are not supposed to be their bedroom, these are the nest boxes.  I have naughty chickens and they do not all roost on their perches, they use one nest box for laying, always the box on the right and they like to sleep in the other nest box.  If more than one chicken needs the nest box at any one time they form an orderly queue rather than lay in the left nest box.  I think it is very cute if they are running around the garden and one  needs to lay they will run back to the nest box.  It is very convenient for me as I do not have to hunt for eggs. They keep the laying side very clean.  Even at this very cold, dark time of year they are still laying one egg each a day.  I expected them to stop for the winter, I think maybe next year they will stop, because it is their first year and they are young and fit they have just kept going this year.  We love our eggs.  I don't usually pack the nests with so much straw but it adds insulation for the below zero nights.  Chickens can cope with the cold as long as there sleep area is dry.  Damp is more harmful to chickens than cold.  I use a thick layer of eco-friendly, wood pellet Cat litter to line the indoor part of their coop.  It is highly absorbent and goes in the compost bins when it is spent.  Organic Chicken Poo is sold by the 5kg and is very expensive at our local, upmarket Garden Centre as it is excellent fertiliser.  I point this out to my other half when he moans about the Crapitty Crap everywhere!
When you have more than one chicken you have a pecking order.  Poppy is the top of the pecking order with my trio.  I am lucky they are all sweet natured but Poppy is definitely the boss.  She was the first to come and see what I was messing about at.
Poppy is closely followed everywhere by Daisy.  These two spend nearly all of their time together and they they like to sleep huddled together.
Finally Rosie wonders where the other two have gone and comes to investigate.  Rosie is like Winnie The Pooh, the bear with very little brain, she acts daft and is the bottom of the pecking order but I think she is actually the cleverest in her own way.  She quite literally thinks outside of the box.  She seems more interested in people than chickens.  She doesn't seem to mind sleeping by herself and I have checked when it is very cold all three sleep together.  

It all gets quite cosy at bedtime in the coop.  There is no light in there the light is from the flash of my camera.  I can tell the chickens apart easily by the coloured rings on their legs.  You can see in this photograph Daisy's Nictitating Membrane, chickens have three eyelids on each eye, the Nictitating membrane is translucent and can be drawn across they eye for protection without the chicken losing vision.  Chickens are very vocal, I don't mean noisy, I mean they chat a lot and use a wide range of vocalisations.  They were very intrigued with my camera at their bedtime and had a little sing about it.  I shut them in at night and there is usually a fair bit of shuffling going on before they settle for the night.  I have seen a fox pass by my house a couple of times in the last month or two so I like to make sure they are safely tucked up and locked in for the night.  I am always pleased to see them in the morning and they are always pleased to see me ( or breakfast). I open their door and they nearly fall over each other tumbling out in such a hurry.  They get their breakfast before the rest of us.  If it is cold they like a bit of warm porridge for brekkie, nice life if you can get it!  


  1. My girls lay on the left and sleep on the right... sometimes when we close them up for the night they are all in a pile - I have seen one on a perch,but that was only briefly !

    Gave them a bird fat ball today,it didn't last long...We have only had 2 days with no eggs, only one today so think tomorrow will be a big egg day (they are different colours and I weigh and record them each day)

    Hope there isn't too much snow tomorrow, they really dont like it !

  2. What a lovely insight into chicken life and times.
    Carol xx

  3. I would love some chickens but dont have the space...and I have a feeling they might not hit it off with my cats!


  4. Wow you sure know a lot about chickens!! And they have quite cute mannerisms. I was wondering, if you keep chickens does that mean you don't eat chicken? Not your chickens of course but chicken in general.

  5. Woah, Nictitating Membrane... Learn something new every day! (now say that ten times fast). Your girls' curiosity is adorable, and they have a lovely little home.

  6. Knitting Nix - In short we do eat chicken! In long - my oldest son went vegetarian at the start of this year, my partner stopped eating red meat, and my youngest son decided he wanted to be an omnivore and it was ok to eat animals you don't know. I am not vegetarian but have spent a good few years as a vegetarian in the past. This year we have all greatly reduced our meat consumption and I buy much less meat. We all have 'meat free' days in this house, which I think is good. I like chicken but feel pretty guilty when I eat it. I do not think I would do very well rearing anything for meat. I am heartbroken when a hamster dies! Let alone killing my own food!

  7. Lauren, I can't say it once never mind ten times fast! I have enough trouble reading and writing it! lol I read too fast and think too slowly!

  8. What brilliant photos!
    Wish my bedroom was as clean and tidy as theirs. Guess I should do something about it ...
    Love from Sue (sil) xxx

  9. sadly i cant keep chickens
    but this is the next best thing :)
    your girls live in a luxury hotel style, no wonder they look so healthy.

  10. Your girls are very lucky to have you for a mum. I miss my chickens.. Hugs, T

  11. Oh they do look so cozy!! I was going to ask how you tell them apart, but then you answered it, coloured rings, very clever!!

    When we had all three, there were times when you couldn't see Betty as she was underneath the other two!! We've also had them sharing a nest box whilst both trying to lay and egg!!

    Thank you for sharing, they look lovely girls. xx


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