Chickens reach maturity at around 6 months of age, and ours are officially 3 months old! It is time for them to learn the rules of the coop and change their address!
That means lock down in the coop with my 12 grown hens. I will keep them all up together for a few weeks. When the young ones understand that the coop is their new home, and not the chicken tractor, all the chickens will be allowed to go out and free-range during the daytime.
So, that means A LOT of togetherness for a couple of weeks. As to be expected, a pecking order had to be established. I hate seeing the older hens pick on the babies, but as long as things don’t get too violent, they will usually iron out their differences in 3-4 days. There has been lots of pecking, running, and knocking around. On top of their new found abuse, the temperatures here in Alabama have been absolutely scorching. It is important to keep plenty of fresh water for them, and it also helps to keep it in the shade. You wouldn’t want hot, nasty water to drink, and neither would the chickens. It is also important to offer several places with good shade. Even with the shade, they still stand with their wings hanging down, panting. It’s no fun for them. You can offer veggies and fruit chopped up in ice to help them cool off a little.
On top of the heat, grouchy old hens, and no freedom, the chickens have been catching the eye of a big red-tailed hawk. Our coop has 3 parts- the actual coop (where they lay eggs and sleep), a completed fenced-in run, and an open “yard.” -Sounds like prison talk, and well, that is probably how these chickens are feeling right now! If they are in the “yard,” there is no top. One evening I saw a huge hawk swoop down over the yard. Luckily, he did not get a chicken and the crows chased him off. Crows are super great to have around your property, because they always know where the hawks are. It seems their life mission is to harass and dive-bomb the hawks until they leave.
Summer still has a long ways to go!
Please wish my chickens and I luck over the coming weeks down here in sweet home Alabama!