Feral Beryl is one of our Ex Battery hens. We got her from NSW Hen Rescue. From Battery Hen to Free Range Hen – can be a bit scary.
Along with 3 other Battie’s. There’s Poor Delilah.
Margaret (aka Hotlips Hoolihan – she’s a blond and had most of her feathers.)
And we’re still thinking about a name for the last one. It has most of it’s feathers, like Hotlips. But it’s tail is stubby.
For some reason I’m leaning towards Stacey for her. But we don’t have a Laverne for Shirley anymore, so maybe. We’ll wait and see.
Picked the girls up near to Sydney. Met the Rescue Lady, Catherine, at a train station. It wasn’t too hard transferring them from one cage to another. Much easier than trying to catch my home chooks on a good day. No scratches even! I had, had visions of them getting away between carriers and me running down the road after a tufty chook or two! (Now that would have been the wrong sort of free range chook)
They travelled in the back of the ute in 3 pet carriers. On arrival, the kids met me, and we took the carriers and a torch down to the Chook House.
Rustic it may be, but Techie 2 and I had made it as fox proof as we could before I left.
One of the chooks screamed like a banshee all the way down the hill to the chook house. The kelpie’s were agog!
It was the tuftiest looking chook you’ve seen in a while. We let the chooks out in the 2nd chook house. Well, actually we had to take the boxes to pieces as they were too scared to come out.
As soon as they got out they looked around. We were shining the torch upwards so we could see, but they wouldn’t be blinded.
They started looking upwards, and one even tried to jump onto Techie 2’s head when he bent down!
They looked very disoriented. And Stressed. So we left them with several containers of food and water and locked up.
They scuttled into the nest boxes along the back wall.
6 nest boxes in all. Two birds crammed into one corner box. One bird in the other corner box and one (probably Delilah) running between them trying to cram in with ‘anyone, let me in, please, I’m sooooooooooooooo distressed.’ She’s a bit of a cot case that one.
You can take a hen out of a cage, but you can’t make it feel safe out of it until it’s had some time. Free ranging is more than just opening cage doors.
Next morning let out our other chooks. They are intrigued.
The Battie’s are pecking at Delilah. Who just stands in the corner or along a wall, lets them, and makes a racquet. So I made her a yard out of spare chicken wire and the tomato stakes (since the tomato bushes went to God)
When I put her into the yard, she ran the wire distressed and calling.
Frank took one look and flapped his wings. He hadn’t seen anything so tufty in his life before. He did not look happy.
Delilah, pecks at her own feathers when no one else is! Talk about being your own worst enemy!
Techie 2 was woken up, coffee was had. A second yard was made for the other Battie’s. Food, water, and sun.
Well, they are the funniest things (even I agree with Frank on that one.)
They don’t move like our other chickens. They don’t bend forwards to eat.
They put their feet wide and tip. They look a bit computerised the way they move.
And they love the sun! I took a book and a bottle of water, and a chair and went to keep an eye out.
Who needs a book! They are too funny.
They love to sunbake. Not having had much sun in their life. As soon as the sun comes out they put out both stubby wings. Then sort of rock a bit, then fall over.
Then holding one stubby wing up they close their eyes and just soak up the sun………..whilst looking like they may be dead!
First day, Delilah was a cot case still. Feral Beryl came by her name – since she pecks at Delilah over and over, even thru the wire. She also has a go at the others.
She pecks at them so they move away, then notices them at the other end of the new pen, so runs up and pecks them there. Margaret, being a bit crafty, would get FB to run away from the food to peck at her, then Margaret would eat until FB noticed!
By the end of the day, one was scratching in the dirt. A bit wobbly, but doing it.
Off to bed in the nest boxes, except for Delilah, who I put back into a pet carrier for her own safety (and possible mental state.)
A few more days of the same. The our own chooks and Frank seemed to find the new birds boring. So I let them out.
Poor Frank! Feral Beryl went straight up and pecked him OMG! He looked so affronted! And his other girls looked like…….you sooooo don’t want to do that. I’d been trying to convince Frank not to jump on the girls on the first day, but I forgave him for that one 🙂
We let Delilah out for a while as well, but the others kept pecking her and she was just as distressed out as in. So we put her back into her own yard.
That night Feral Beryl returned to the 2nd chook house to sleep, but the others crammed into a box in Frank’s House. Frank and his entourage were up on the roosts wondering what was going on!
Next morning FB is pecking at Delilah’s carrier to pass the time till I came to let them out. Really, FB! Could you not leave her alone for a minute?
Each day out in the Free Range Chook Forest, the new girls are finding life more relaxing. More things to peck at than each other. In a fit of bravery, I let Delilah out. She didn’t go far. Frank and either Tic or Shirl gave her a peck in passing when she got close to something they wanted to eat. But they didn’t follow her and peck as Feral Beryl had.
Once Delilah was enticed (chased) out into the chook forest she was ok. She flitted and squawked, and fluffed up her wings. She kept close to Frank, who kept looking at her, as roosters do, but then he would almost shake his head, it’s too small and tufty!
Delilah still zips about erratically, and is by far the most vocal of all our chooks. But I think she’ll do now. Altho I did get up at first light this morning to let them out so she didn’t get attacked by bored birds.
I think Shirl would quite like them to stop roosting in her nest box – there’s a pile of chook poo in there now! I’ve had one egg on the hen house floor, obviously from a chook that came in and couldn’t wait to use the only nest box anyone will lay in.
Two of the Battie’s and Shirl are laying each day now. Quiche forever! Bacon and eggs. Lovely, organic, hormone free, antibiotic free, free range eggs by sun baking, slightly psychotic chooks! Awesome!
Today tho, I looked out the window to the chook forest and what did I see? Two crows. Looking to access the scratch and layer mix the chooks get strewn over their free range area.
As one crow walked towards the forest…………..out of the bushes comes…………Feral Flipping Beryl! Take that you black and dastardly bird! Frank and one of the Tic Tacs brought up the rear guard………but it was FB out the front!
You go girl! We’ve found a place for Feral Beryl. For all her pecking problems, she has a place in the coop. Wondering now if she might also peck that little fluffball if he comes down to chase them all again? He’s not a popular dog since we lost one of our Tic Tacs due to him 🙁
Maybe FB would peck him on the nose, and possibly on the @rse if he did turn tail. There’s a place in every chook yard for a Chook who can Stand up for Herself!
Feral Beryl You are a Legend! Just give Delilah a break sometimes till she grows some more feathers and learns to stand up for herself!
Sadly Delilah didn’t make it. There’s a RIP Delilah post if you want to read it.
The tufty ones are certainly the loudest and the funniest birds.