There is a lot of chicken talk going on at our place. Chicken talk is when we talk to the chickens and also when they talk to us. Yes, it is a two way situation. You have to listen carefully to what they are saying. After a while you come to understand, happy and not so happy talk. The not so happy talk happens when they hear my voice or even the roller door as I return from a trip to the supermarket and they do not get any attention.
I became more aware of chicken talk this week when I bought hay for the chickens i.e. their Palace (aka chicken coop, for first time readers). I bought this because there was no straw available. There was a caution within me but I put it aside at the time and bought the hay….hey, hey – this was totally the wrong way to go.
Let me explain. When I was first investigating what was required in “living with chickens” I discovered that hay was not the best bedding for them. Hence, since that time I have bought straw and sawdust. The main area in the Palace, until I purchased a bale of hay, has always had straw with sawdust for the restroom and nesting box. The restroom is the area where the chickens roost for the night. However, they also have a roosting bar in the main area of the Palace and this is where three (we have five chickens) have roosted each night in the warmer weather.
What I love about chickens is that they are so alert and interested in what is happening around them. Every time I visit the Palace they are so interested in everything I do and consider what I am up to before they will go their own way, such as having a dust bath. Without delay when I or my “one & only” (O&O) arrive at the Palace we immediately have their attention.
Recent visitors said that the attention they give me, following me everywhere, was because I give them food. Well, in part I agree but it is more than the food factor my Princess Chickens know that they are loved and cared for. They feel very safe with us and respond appropriately. If we were not treating them well I am sure we would not have the same response, food or no food.
The difference at our place in how we care for and feed our Princess Chickens is very telling. That is, they tell us in the way they behave towards us and their chicken talk that they are happy. The good part of their life is that they are not totally reliant on us for their food. We give them their food unrestricted that is they have their fine dining pellets on demand. They can eat whenever they are hungry. They do not need to wait for some “human being” to give them food. At all times they can just go ahead and help themselves. This is very important if you care for chickens. Some long standing chicken breeders have the view that you give the chickens so much food a day. But my approach, after much research on the subject, is that you let them decide how much food they need.
I also give the Princesses additional treats, just to make life more interesting for them, each day. This includes vegetables with greens. They absolutely love cherry tomatoes but now that our home grown supply is out of season there are not so many available. I also grow/buy spinach or kale which they devour in a short time. I found a pot plant the other day that had a lot of weeds so I put this in the run for the chickens. It was not long before the weeds were history. We also pick weeds for the Princesses and this is helping us keep our place tidy and giving them lots of joy.
Meanwhile, time to discuss further the situation about hay for chickens. As hay is denser and compact compared to straw I found that the chickens were prancing around in it and getting their feet caught in it. Not the usual scratching going on. After two days I sourced straw bales and things were back to normal. I could not believe the chicken talk going on once the Princesses were back in the Palace with the straw (sprinkled with a little sawdust). They gurgled and spoke in chicken talk that told me life was totally good in the Palace. I could not believe how happy they were and this went on for hours before it was time for bed.
This is another part of chicken talk that goes on. Just on dusk they have a chat to one another and decide it is bedtime. They eat and drink and it is time for bed. It is like clockwork, no changes from day to day, no partying or going out to the movies, these Princesses are seriously getting on with their royal responsibilities and getting their beauty sleep.
Of course the Princesses rise early at sunrise and set off on another day of undertaking their royal duties, laying an egg each before lunch and then spending the afternoon at the Misty Springs Day Spa (dust bath), while enjoying the sunshine. Life does not get much better than this. Such is the life of a Princess Chicken. There is also much we can learn from a chicken if we listen and learn.
P.S. Hay is not the best bedding for chickens. If it gets wet it can create fungal spores that will affect the respiratory system of the chicken.
P.S.S. There is a lot of chicken talk going on between our Princesses and we like to talk to them and they are always attentive. Maybe more so than some humans I know…..uuummm!