Saturday, May 04, 2013
Of course most people know the phrase "henpecked" meaning persistent nagging usually, but in the true context of the word in the animal world, its a bit more than that.
As readers of the blog know, there are usually chickens in the barn, mostly laying hens these days, keeping me supplied with fresh eggs daily. Well, there is a pecking order in a flock of birds and sometimes that gets out of order and they turn on one another. It starts as a little peck or a feather pull then can rapidly progress to constant pecking of the victim til the bird loses feathers, often most of them on top of their head and neck. Chickens are very aggressive at times and will gang up on and kill another bird that shows signs of distress or bleeding. I presume its a throwback to the "survival of the fittest" principle, but never nice to witness.
Once noticed, the pecked hens are removed from the flock and left to explore the barn with BD and Buddy, the ducks, til the feathers grow back and they can be reintroduced to the flock.
The sketch at the top of this post is of one of the of henpecked hens who have the run of the barn and garden now, along with BD and Buddy. The feathers are starting to grow back again but they look pretty scruffy around the head and neck still. Of course moulting around this time of year doesn't help either. Here they are enjoying spring, ready for an adventure into the meadow to hunt for bugs.