We arrived home about 6:30pm with our 12 hens in the car, 12 hens that we decided would be named ‘The Laurels’, after Laurel, who we lost last November. Without intending to, we’ve started to give the group of hens we re-home a name, as well as the individual hen herself, and this is something that we’ll carry on doing.
We took the hens to the area we’d created for them; they’d sleep in the part of the existing run that had been sectioned off, so that they’d have their own space but be able to see the incumbent hens. The door of the carrying cage and the box lids were opened, and the hens started to come out and touch the outside ground for the first time, taking small, measured steps into their new world. They had plenty of food and water, and we spent the next hour watching them getting their bearings, but also making sure that they all knew where the food and water were.
At these times, the existing hens make their presence known, and spent the rest of the evening growling at the newcomers! Willow was particularly vocal, and we expected this, as being the lowest raking hen, she can see an opportunity to move up the pecking order.
As it started to get dark we ushered the girls into their sleeping area. They were in a new world, coming from their caged existence that morning, travelling over 100 miles in crates, and a further journey home with us, and everything was new to them, especially where they sleep and who they sleep beside. It was a jostle for position and what looked like a pyramid of hens kept swaying from side to side as one hen would bury herself at the bottom of the pile, then another would emerge and do the same! As darkness fell, an air of clam descended on the group, I did a final headcount, and locked them in and let them sleep.
Half an hour later I was back out! We could hear squawking from the hens, so went out to see what was going on. Willow was at the bottom of the ramp, and couldn’t get into the coop, as the entrance was blocked by one of the new girls! There was a small gap in the barrier that was separating the groups, and one of the hens, had decided to squeeze through this and into the main coop and run area. She must have then seen an opportunity to find a higher resting place and climbed the ramp to the coop, and was perching at the entrance, blocking Willow’s path! A hen’s natural instinct is to sleep as high up as possible, and a matter of hours after being released from her cage, this little hen was exhibiting those natural behaviours.