The Great Backyard Chicken Adventure, part 9

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Since the girls arrived already a year-old from a free-range flock on the peninsula, they are not lap-chickens. I’ve done some hand-feeding to establish that “open hands” means some kind of food (bugs, scratch, fruit). Closed hands mean no food. I’ve only caught and picked them up once, to put them in the coop the second night they arrived. That was traumatic for all concerned and after speaking to other chicken owners found that chickens put themselves to bed, just before dark. I didn’t read about that part while I was researching but anyway this works for us.

Another free-range owner told me he puts their scratch in a plastic cup and shakes it at nighttime. His girls all come running when they hear that sound and happily follow Pavlov back to the coop. I tried that technique and it works very well. The girls will jostle in to get close to dinner and don’t mind brushing up against me (the Food Lady). Once Thelma went behind me at dinner, found a paper towel sticking out of my pocket, yanked it and started shredding it. Now she always goes behind me to check, and once yanked on the white shirt sticking out from under my sweatshirt. Thelma will also jump up on my leg if that gets her a better position on dinner.

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