Your pullets getting picked on? Wondering what makes a hen happy? Questions from backyard flockkeepers just keep pouring in! Here is the second installment of Chicken Chat.
Q: Any advice on our pullets? They hide in the coop ALL DAY LONG, and appear only to eat and drink when I close the door so that they have free rein in the coop. The big girls are so mean!
A: Give them time. You could try setting them out among the big girls in a cage for a few hours a day. But really it just takes time.
Follow-up: All right — we’ll try to be patient. The pullets must be bored out of their skulls.
A: Just remember how tiny those skulls are. They don’t require much entertainment. Throw them some extra handfuls of something tasty when you feed them and they’ll be thrilled.
A: I think you can tell a lot from their general health and physical comfort. They also know when they are safe from predators. Those are two conditions of their well being, I’d say. Their laying rate is dependent on lots of things — weather, light, diet, breed, and age, for starters — so I don’t think you can really count on that as an indicator of hen happiness.
Q: My next-door neighbor gave me some eggs from his chickies, and the one I prepared this morning (softboiled) had a very tangy and unpalatable taste. I only ate one bite and threw out the rest. Do you think it was something the chickens ate, or was the egg spoiled? It smelled fine, so I’m hoping no GI distress lies around the corner.
A: It’s said that if you let your chickens eat pungent foods such as cabbage and garlic and onions that it will flavor the eggs. We have kept these foods out of our birds’ diet and have never had strange-tasting eggs (at least to my palate). You might ask your neighbor if they’ve had any of those things in their diet.