Monday, August 18, 2014

Not So Bird-Brained, It Seems...

....



A week ago, our baby chicks looked like this.  They were insanely cute little fluff-butts.




In seven days, they've grown tremendously  The chicks have sprouted actual chicken feathers.  Their fluffy baby-down is almost all gone.

When I look back at the blog, I see that we got our first set of chicks back in March of 2012. (Click here for baby pictures.)  Because it was early spring and too cold to allow the chicks outside, we raised that batch of chicks in a well-heated cardboard box in our garage.  The current batch of chicks have spent the better part of their lives outside, right from the start.  The weather is great, and the chicks are thriving.

Both Robb and I think that these chicks are benefiting from being in an environment where they have something to do.  These chicks have been foraging for food since we got them.  They eat grass, and have little chicken adventures, climbing all over the place.




One of the reasons we got chickens in the first place was because we thought they might eat the snails that over-run our garden.  Our original chickens are so dumb, that I've had to teach them to eat snails.  And if I don't hand feed them snails for a few weeks, they forget all about the fact that snails are edible, and have to be taught all over again.

These two girls are freaking geniuses in comparison to our older hens.  I did not have to teach them to eat grass or bugs. They figured it out all by themselves.




The chick on the right has a massive grub in her mouth.  She and her sister played a spirited game of "keep away" before she swallowed it whole.  (They've been eating lots of dirt, so I trust that she's got enough grit in her gizzard to handle her meal.)

I think these girls have such an advantage, having been raised outside. Our older hens did not learn how to be chickens, growing up in a cardboard box. They learned to eat chicken feed, and that's about it. I wasn't kidding when I say that I had to teach our first group to eat grass.

That's what a poor educational environment will do to a developing chicken brain, I guess.




In addition to being good foragers, these two chickens are quite strongly bonded.  They really stick together.  They climb together, they run around together, they nap together. If one institutes a new activity, the other adopts it right away.  The chickens are crazy high-jumpers, and we realize that we've got to fortify our garden fences.

Possibly the most charming thing they do after trying out a new activity is their celebratory chest bumping.  It's like a chicken version of a high-five.  Adorable.  Let's just hope that this isn't a behavior unique to baby roosters.  Feisty pullets are delightful. Feisty roosters are illegal where we live, and a tragedy for two tender-hearted vegetarians.



If you're curious to see what other gardeners are writing about, click here.

6 comments:

Margaret said...

They are so cute. I always thought that you could keep chickens outdoors (in a slightly heated coop using a light bulb)over the winter, even in colder areas. Did you keep your first ones indoors initially because they were too young at the time?

Jennifer Thompson said...

How cute! I think it's so sad that some chickens need to be taught things that should come naturally to them (ie, eating grass and grubs). When I got my chickens, I would bring them outside if temps were warm enough that I felt they would be warm, so that they could get some fresh air, exercise, and learn to be more natural chickens. On colder days, I had good luck letting them play in my cooking compost pile (but this was in March and they were very wee, so I always kept an eye on them to make sure they were okay).

Jennifer Thompson said...

How cute! I think it's so sad that some chickens need to be taught things that should come naturally to them (ie, eating grass and grubs). When I got my chickens, I would bring them outside if temps were warm enough that I felt they would be warm, so that they could get some fresh air, exercise, and learn to be more natural chickens. On colder days, I had good luck letting them play in my cooking compost pile (but this was in March and they were very wee, so I always kept an eye on them to make sure they were okay).

Celia Hart said...

Mmm? they do have sturdy legs and little combs...!

I think this is a great lesson in animal development ... humans are animals too ... go figure!

Celia
xx

Daphne Gould said...

This made me laugh. Yes bird brains for sure.

Norma Chang said...

Love, love the first baby chicks picture, so adorable. I could sit and observe your chicks for hours. Thanks for a good laugh. A poor educational environment will not only affect the developing chicken brain but human brain as well.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...