White chickens can’t jump

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Tuesday morning, sick and tired of the volcanic glow of the heat lamp, the brawling of the once-again crowded meat peeps, the subtle but certain barnyard smell, and the incredible amount of dust, I moved the meat peeps outside.

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This is what remains of Meat Peep Housing Plan A. It was going to be an ark-type chicken tractor, but the wood I scavenged from our old box spring wasn’t fit to burn. It even failed to fly very well when I hucked it off the back porch.

It took me four hours to get all the fencing strung nice and tight, install a roost, plug up all the gaps through which small predators might enter, and rig up a gate around the pig hut. When that was done, I moved the nine healthy birds out into their new enclosure. They were so terrified that they were paralyzed. Each one just sat down where I set it, eyes bugging. I waited a few minutes, and when they were all still right where I’d set them, like ugly white duck decoys, I went back in and bodily moved each one into the hut to show them that their feeder and waterer were in there. Same catatonic response. I didn’t get a reaction of any kind out of them until I retrieved the bale of softwood shavings from the utility room and dumped half its contents into their yard. This they seemed to recognize, and within half an hour they had spread the mound of shavings into every corner of their pen and were happily rolling around in it, peeping, eating, and drinking.

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Meat Peep Housing Plan B: Adapted Pig Hut. It’s next door to the laying hens’ coop. This picture was taken before I roofed their yard to dissuade interested neighbor cats.

They can’t fly like our laying hens (who can really only fly high enough to get onto their roost or into the window box) and they apparently can’t jump at all, either, so the birds that left (that is, fell out of) the pig hut were unable to get back in, and those that stayed in couldn’t get onto the chicken-chest-high roost. I visited my scrap-wood pile and dug out a 4 x 4 and a 4 x 8, each about two feet long. The 4 x 4 I snugged up against the entrance to the pig hut and the 4 x 8 I shoved under the roost. After a few hours they (accidentally) discovered the purpose of the 4 x 4 entrance stair, but until the next morning were still puzzled over the intended use of the 4 x 8 under the roost.

ā€” Amanda

P.S. It took me two hours to get rid of the thick, butter-yellow layer of dander that had coated everything in the kitchen. If I do this again before I own a proper barn, I’m keeping the brooder in the spare bathroom.

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