This past Friday, October 3rd, we added two new biddies to our flock. They're a breed of chicken called Ameraucana, better known as a type of Easter Egg Chickens since the eggs they lay will be shades of blue and green. We've named them (quite appropriately, I thought) "Easter" & "Bunny".
For right now Easter & Bunny have their own little crate, set up next to the larger chicken tractor, so that our flock can get used to them and vice versa. This is a common practice designed to help eliminate fighting once we add them directly into the flock. Easter & Bunny are 4 months old and our other gals are 6 months - so fairly close in age, but we still want to be sure the new gals don't get picked on too much.
There has been, however, a very big shocker for us: these gals love to get out, spread their wings, and take off!! We've had two escapes already at times when we were trying to give them fresh water and/or food and they took advantage of open doors. The first time Justin and I were both out there so it was fairly easy to catch them. Today however, it was just me. Just me, and the dogs!
I caught Easter pretty much immediately, but then Bunny broke loose as I put Easter back in. Bunny took off across the yard, Jomo quickly on her heels. Jomo is our 7 month, 65lb, American Bulldog/Bandogge Mastiff mix. He cornered her at the fence, and even though his face was right near her, he didn't bite or attack her. I grabbed him by the collar, she took off again, this time with Whiskey in tow. Whiskey is our 8 1/2 year old, 57lb Chocolate Lab. Luckily, she didn't do anything other than chase her. Bunny flew to the chicken tractor - getting close to 4' off the ground (something Easter did last time), where I was able to catch her and put her back safely.
So, this evening after dinner, while the boys played on the deck we decided to try and take care of our "Fly Gals". We trimmed one wing on each bird. Trimming one wing is supposed to help keep them off balance and make it very hard for them to fly. If you trim both they can just flap harder and still fly. It was very easy, the gals only seemed to be bothered by the fact that we were picking them up and holding them at all.
This whole thing has been a shock for us because with the biddies we currently have we've never really had this "escape" issue. Sure, if you leave the flap open when they're hungry they'll try and hop out - but never with such determination that you couldn't just quickly move an arm and deter their progress. And, when they have hopped out, they just run around a little and are fairly easy to catch - no fliers. Two of our breeds: Dark Brahma (named Ann Bancroft) and Buff Orpington (named LadyBird) are known for being very gentle and quiet, with a calm demeanor. Our Partridge Cochins (both named Patti) are very large birds, so flying is harder, and also have a nice calm demeanor. It is our Speckled Sussexes that have made the most noise and always try to flap out the most, but like I said - they are easily convinced to stay or easily and calmly caught.
Something in me says that this is just the beginning of many stories regarding our "Fly Gals." We plan to remove the Speckled Sussexes this evening and put the Ameraucanas in with the other egg-laying gals. Tomorrow the Speckled Sussexes will "find a new home" - the nice, urban way of saying they will be thanked deeply for what they are about to offer us.
My apologies for not including photos of Easter & Bunny here in this blog, but I will try and get them uploaded either here or into the chicken album soon!