As is usual for a rehoming, I am awakened several times during the night, worrying about the hens, and this first night was no exception!
I got up at 5:30am and went outside to see how their first night had been, thankfully they were all okay. I let them out into their temporary run and made sure that they had enough food and water. In their previous life all they’d know was layers mash, so they started on this feed, and gradually we’d mix layers pellets into this, until they became used to the pellets.
The hens were extremely nervous and jumpy around us. We had intended to use the morning to check over each hen thoroughly, weigh them, and give each of them a coloured band and a name. After the third hen we stopped! Each time we went to pick a hen up, there would be a flapping of wings and screeching, which would be stressing the bird and the others, so we decided to leave this to another day and just sit back and watch them explore their new world. At the very least we needed to make sure that they were all eating and drinking and showing no signs of outward illness.
We noticed one hen was spending a lot of the time in the shelter and not moving too much, and then when she did move, she was limping. We’ve been in this situation before, with Nutmeg, and from taking her to the vet, knew to keep her movement restricted so that the inflamed joint would have a chance to heal, and to give her an anti-inflammatory – Inflacam – to help with pain relief. We needed a way of remembering the hens names, so because of her limp, Lupin was given a nice bright yellow band, and with a cool night ahead, we set up the crate as a little hospital coop and brought her inside the house for the night.
It was lovely seeing the hens get used to their new home; they scratched the ground, sunbathed, and ate until their crops looked like they would burst! The nightly headcount was difficult again as the swaying mass of little feather bare bodies, but they eventually settled down and fell asleep, hopefully dreaming dustbathing, sweet blades of grass and an all-you-can-eat buffet.