Chickens have absolutely no able manners…it’s first come first served for my girls. The minute they see the shadow of one of us in the kitchen they start pacing up and down expectantly. I nearly always have a small bowl of leftovers in the morning for them, so they’re attuned to seeing us carrying a bowl. I usually try to take it out with me when I let them out. So I’ll place the bowl in a corner and then ‘hide’ some other treat somewhere else.
I honestly don’t know how big a chicken’s brain is and how much they need entertainment. For example, I’ve seen a chicken gym advertised online. Now I’m a strange balance of sceptic and consumer – I hate being sold to but I do tend to believe that people will only sell me something that does what it says on the tin. It’s a good job I have my super cynical salesman for a husband! He keeps me on the straight and narrow when I’m tempted by such things as a chicken gym! You see, it looked great. It had ladders and things to peck and I think a mirror to admire their chickenly beauty. Thank goodness I kept my sanity (and my money) – even I thought that it would just end up as a launch pad and another muddy article to trip over in the dark.
So instead, I put old plant containers in the run to entertain the girls. The flowers have died and I need to empty them out and clean them for next season anyway, so I place them in the corner and let the chickens dig away. It usually means that on the first day I get a light coating of compost scattered around the pot but thereafter they have the odd dig, perch on the side to get a different view and generally make it part of the furniture. As such, it’s a great place to hide treats. A scattering of beetroot leaves, a corn on the cob, an old cabbage past it’s sellby date- they all go in for the chickens to discover and devour later in the day.
And devour they do. Chickens attack anything you take in with a gusto. Pushing each other out of the way to get the choicest pieces they take no prisoners. In fact they leap merrily to try to get into the dish first. As I’ve said before jumping chickens are quite the funniest things.
I can’t make out the pecking order any more – it seems like it’s more down to personality. Luna is still the friendliest and as such has no fear of us and always gets in first. Cho is crafty and being bigger can often use her ‘muscle’ to get the others out of the way. I’ve seen her push under and through Luna’s legs to get to food first – a funny sight given that she’s taller than Luna. Ginny is quite fast and will run in and grab choice morsels and then run away to digest them. All in all, they just don’t care as long as they get a share.