I’m a big one for routine when it comes to our animals. We try to work out a routine that accommodates both us and our animals and then stick to it. When they know what to expect, things go so much more smoothly. One thing that seems to be a challenge for our chickens, however, is when we change their free range area.
|The green stars are where the chicken gates are located.|
We have two chicken gates in the chicken yard, one leading to the front pasture, and one allowing them back into the doe pasture. Every couple of months we alternate where the chickens are allowed, but for some reason, they’ve never caught on to this. It takes many weeks for them to catch on to which gate is open, especially if they have established some favored egg-laying spot. A few of the persistent ones never catch on. These insist on making it into the “off” area, and then get into a dither about trying to get back to the coop at night.
The other day this happened to one of our two roosters. He somehow managed to get into the buck pasture, currently being used by the pigs and off-limits to the chickens. At dusk, he and one of the Buff Orpington hens were in that pasture, running frantically back and forth along the fence nearest the chicken coop. Now, the most obvious solution would seem to be simply open the gate and let them out. However, with pigs in one pasture and piglets-in-weaning and goats in the other, this isn’t so simple. Opening the gate means every critter rushing to get through it to where we don’t want them. That meant everybody had to be lured away from the gate and distracted long enough for the chickens to go through.
|Our two Black Australorp roosters|
It took Dan and me several minutes to accomplish this (feed being the distraction), and then we set about trying to tend to those fretting chickens. The hen ran right through the gate, but the rooster absolutely was not going to go through it. It didn’t matter how wide open the gate was or how we tried to herd him through it, he instead ran right by it a number of times. Apparently our wanting him to run through it was reason enough in his chicken brain to not do it! Once the distraction was consumed, all the critters made a beeline for the gate. It was getting dark, so we had to give up.
The next morning the rooster was gone. Dan looked all over for his remains, but never found anything. After getting rid of the first skunk another showed up, so there was that to worry about, plus we have owls, opossums, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and hawks. I looked for him to show up all that day, but he never did. Not that we need two roosters, but it was still a shame to lose him that way. Oh well, life goes on.
The next afternoon there was a knock at the front door. It was a neighbor from across the street. “Have you lost a black rooster?” he asked. “It’s next to my house hiding in the bushes. It’s almost gotten hit by a car twice.”
Needless to say, I was surprised! I thought that rooster was a goner! With my neighbor’s help we were able to herd said rooster back across the street and toward the chicken coop.
How he managed to get from the back of our property to across the street while bypassing the chicken yard is a puzzle. How he managed to survive those two nights is another. It’s nice to know he didn’t have an unfortunate demise. All’s well that end’s well, I’d say.
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