Chicken Update

After the unfortunate discovery that two of our five baby chicks were actually roosters, we were planning to get rid of Cody and Sven.

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Before we could decide when and how to get rid of them, our nanny Maria told us that she had two female chicks the same age as our chicks and she would exchange her two females for our two males. So the next day, Maria put two females chicks in a cardboard box, boarded the colectivo (public bus) and brought them with her to our house.

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Unfortunately for the new Cody and the new Sven, the transition hasn’t been easy.

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The momma hen, Elsa, has not exactly welcomed the newcomers. The morning after Cody and Sven’s first night in the coop, Patrick and I were both awake early and went out to check on the chickens around 6am. Patrick was extremely upset when he saw that poor Sven had been bitten repeatedly on the back of her head by Elsa.

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Patrick burst into tears, crying, “Why is the mommy being so mean to the baby? Why is the baby bleeding so much?” I pulled Elsa off Sven and then put Cody and Sven up in the coop, away from Elsa. When I went inside to get plastic containers so Cody and Sven could have their own food and water away from the group, Patrick insisted on waiting with the chickens to make sure that Cody, and especially Sven, were safe from Elsa. While I was in the kitchen looking through a cabinet of Tupperware, I heard Patrick run to the front door screaming, “Mommy! Hurry! Come help the babies! Elsa is up in the casita biting them!”

After I again separated Elsa from Cody and Sven, I tried to protect the babies by putting them in the casita and blocking off the door with a roof tile and part of a cardboard box.

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Later that afternoon when Maria arrived, she came up with another plan to keep Elsa from going up into the coop; using a string, Maria tied one of Elsa’s legs to the side of the chicken run. Even though Elsa was safely confined, Sven and Cody wouldn’t leave the chicken coop.

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After a couple days of this, Maria thought that if the new babies were forced to leave the coop and the momma saw them more, that might help the momma accept the new babies. Maria took Cody and Sven out of the coop and put them down with the other chickens and then blocked off the entrance to the coop so the chicks couldn’t get back in.

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While the babies and momma have been forced to see each other more, Cody and Sven have still stayed as far away from Elsa as possible, for example staying on opposite sides of the chicken run or staying up on top of the barricade closing off coop.

It’s been about two weeks since the new chicks arrived and we gave it a good try but Elsa can’t seem to warm up the Cody and Sven, so she unfortunately got kicked out and went back to Maria’s farm. Sven’s head is healing, but still doesn’t look good. Elsa was sometimes still tied to the fence, and Cody and Sven were still terrified of Elsa and constantly trying to keep their distance from her.

We loaded Elsa into a cardboard box and sent her home with Maria when her husband Arturo came to pick her up after work.

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An interesting twist to Elsa’s harsh treatment of Cody and Sven is the fact that Elsa could not have been more gentle with Danny and Patrick. She had the patience of Scout and didn’t even mind when the boys probed her comb, searched for her ears, picked her up less-than-gently and tried to look inside her mouth. Patrick was happy to snuggle with her and was a little sad it was for the last time.

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It’s too bad to see Elsa go especially since she just started to lay eggs again after having her chicks! But in just a couple more months, the babies will start laying eggs of their own!

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Aside from worries about the chickens all getting along, we were also concerned that some of the three remaining original chicks might be roosters as well, and unfortunately it looks like Arturito could be a boy.

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I think that the growth on Arturito’s head looks an awful lot like a rooster comb, but Maria says that it’s not big enough for a rooster and is instead consistent with a comb of a hen. I think we just need to give it a little more time to confirm whether Arturito is a boy or girl.

Thankfully it appears that Scout and Chestnut (despite the traditionally masculine names) are both females.

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Meanwhile, the boys are loving having chickens.

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Update

  1. We had a mother hen not accept baby chicks too. She pecked the new hen a whole bunch. That hen was never able to grow feathers on that part of the head. I’m glad you’ve solved the problem for now!

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