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Saturday, 31 January 2009

What chicks want

While I'm on the subject of chickens... In the past six months I've learned some things about chook psychology.

During the day time, chooks seem to like resting on the ground, especially in the dirt, but they want a good long view at ground level - presumably so they can see any potential dangers coming. Ideal spots include hedges and low shrubs. Cool, loose dirt or leaf litter provide comfort, interest and sometimes a hidden snack.

At night it's a different story. Chooks want to climb as high as they can get and will go to extraordinary lengths to find a good perch. I guess the logic is that when it's dark they can't see things coming to eat them, so they might as well just try and get out of the way. Chickens aren't smart at the best of times but once the sun goes down their brain really switches off. They'll flap and squark like crazy if you pick 'em up while sleeping, but they'll go right back to sleep wherever you put 'em down. If they haven't been eaten everything must be OK. Funniest thing is when their head slips out from under their wing and hangs down limp below the level of their feet.

All of that is useful when you're thinking about building a home for chickens. This day/night dichotomy is why I'm trusting a four-foot-high wire fence to keep out chickens which even with clipped wings made it up onto a six-foot fence to sleep. Fingers crossed.

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