Meet Bolt, a lovely year-old Speckled Sussex with a seriously bossy attitude.  She’s the queen of the coop around here, getting the best choice of treats and the highest roost, not to mention staking her claim to the “best” nesting box.   She is also outgoing, curious, and very fast (hence her name) – always attempting to escape the run, and quick to keep the other hens in line.


Spring is here, the weather this weekend has been sunny and mild, and I’m sick of having stinky chicks in my breakfast nook.  The chicks are 7 1/2 weeks old – old enough to spend time outdoors during the day (with a lamp just in case, and coming back in to the house at night when temps dip into the 30s).   Integrating new birds into a flock can be tricky, however, and needs to be done carefully, and today seemed like the perfect day to start the process.

Bolt is the primary reason that, for the time being, these 7 little pullets have been placed in a separate, fenced off run inside the larger run.    We know her personality too well to assume she wouldn’t peck these little girls and injure them.  So, with a partition safely in place away from the other hens, a freshly mucked out run, and a shelter rigged-up,  it was time to place the chicks outside for the day.


Cookie, our Buff Orpington chick, was the first to exploring her new enclosure, and the other chicks soon followed.


While the chicks seemed intrigued by the hens on the other side of the fence, I can’t say the same for the hens.  The more submissive hens stood in the far corner, clucking nervously.  They seemed to be waiting for a signal from Bolt as to what to make of these 7 little intruders.  Several times over the course of about 15 minutes,  Bolt strutted right up to the partition, raised herself up and beat her wings furiously at the chicks, and then strode away.  She scratched and bok-bok-ba-GAWKED at the chicks in between displays of wing-beating.  I have never seen a hen behave this was – it was almost rooster-like  – clearly attempting to send a message to the youngsters that this is HER flock and she is not to be messed with.

Needless to say, the partition will stay in place for at least a week while everyone gets used to the idea of an expanding flock, and the chicks gets grow ever-larger.  Then, we’ll remove the swath of fencing and I’ll hang out in the run to see how everyone adjusts to each other and a new pecking order is established.


Even in their small section of the yard, the chicks are reveling in their new-found freedom.  I’m hoping the transition goes well, and everyone integrates smoothly,  but for now it’s exciting to see them growing into the hens they will soon become (and looking forward to those eggs to come!).

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