top of page

Chickens: Gallus Gallus Domesticus

Living on our farm has taught us so many things. One of those things I would like to talk about in this blog… Our Chickens. Who knew that chickens had such hilarious personalities?

I am new to chicken keeping but I have so much enjoyed the 13 girls we have and our 1 boy. They have been such entertainment for me, my husband and daughter, son-in-law, and my 2 grandchildren. We all live together so all are involved in our new venture in life.

When we moved on the farm, we inherited 19 chickens altogether, 2 roosters and 17 hens. With that many hens we could sell eggs to buy the feed for them. The reason we wanted chickens in the first place is we needed free-range chickens to eat the ticks, fleas, and any other bad bug they could find. But the chickens would run from us, and they had never been let out of the chicken coop. For 5 years they lived in the coop. First we had to get the chickens to trust us. A happy chicken lays eggs.

Before we let them free-range we needed to know everything there was to know about chickens. Most important thing, Predators: Many animals eat chickens, like, skunks, owls, raccoons, hawks, snakes, opossums, bobcats. We have all of the above on the mountain. By now you should know that I take everything to God in prayer. My prayer was… help us get the chickens to trust us, to protect them, and to teach us everything we needed to know about them.

So shortly after my prayer we began to let them free range the property. Here are some of the things they like to eat; worms, fruit, seeds, acorns, grains, slugs, snails, and much more. I learned they have a well-developed gizzard (a part of the stomach that contains tiny stones, because chickens can’t chew) that grinds up their food.

One of the things we noticed about the chickens is in their coop we have 3 boxes for laying eggs, but there is one box they all seem to like.....two or three hens will literally pile on top of each other in that one box as if that were the only space available to them. It is so funny to see. And when they lay an egg the call for us to come and see. And they will not stop calling until we come.

I never thought too much about chickens before we moved to our farm almost 2 years ago. In fact, if you had asked me to describe a chicken before that time, I would have said that they were dirty, noisy and down-right stupid. Now, that we have gotten to know our chickens, we understand that these birds are anything but stupid. They live in a social hierarchy where everyone knows their place. Order is generally the norm of the day and those that decide to step out of line face consequence. That’s not a bad thing ….is it?

Our chickens also look out for each other. No better example of this is when our rooster or dominant hen will vocally alert the entire flock of impending danger. In the chicken world, it’s never “every man/woman for themselves”. If that was the case, then the chicken would just run for cover and forget about the rest. Instead, our rooster will make the call of alarm to alert his ladies of the danger and then stand his ground to take-on or sacrifice himself to the impending danger for his flock. Hey…… that’s a novel idea…. looking out for your fellow-man!

That is exactly what happened our first winter on the farm, we lost one of our roosters and a hen to the cold weather, a few months later we lost the second rooster to a raccoon that got into the coop. He was protecting the coop and the hens but the raccoon was too much for him. A day or two later the raccoon got into the coop again with no rooster to protect the coop it got a hen we named Red. That broke our hearts, because Red was very mild tempered and my grandchildren named her. She got picked on a lot by the other hens; she was at the end of the pecking order. We had to figure out how the raccoon was getting in the coop. We finally found out how …and we fixed the problem.

As for memory, chickens have incredible capacity, given that their brain is the size of a cashew nut. They can come when called (provided that food is offered), they have the ability to distinguish between strangers and owners (they act pretty “chicken” if they don’t know you); they know when to return to the coop at night and understand what bugs and greens are safe to eat. That’s pretty smart I would say.

The very first time we let them out to free-range one of the hens refused to go back in the coop when it was time to go in at the end of the day. Needless to say she did not make it through the night. We are not sure which predator got her but all that was left were a few feathers.

Since then we have learned to protect our hens, when to let them out to free-range and when to keep them in, and how to call them back into the coop. They have learned to love us. Now when called they come willingly and gather all around our legs. Last spring a friend that could no longer keep her hens safe gave us her last hen that was not taken by the coyotes. We named her Olive because she lays greenish blue eggs. We recently got a new rooster from some friends and we named him Big Red aka Chaps. He is absolutely beautiful and is a true ladies' man. We have tried to name each our hens, but there is one that stands out we call her Gimpy. We are not sure what happened to her foot, it looks normal but she cannot put any weight on it. Ms. Gimpy has no problem keeping up with the rest of the hens. When she can’t run as fast as the other hens she just opens up her wings and (we call this fly running) glides across the yard.

Big Red and his ladies free ranging

chicken coupe

If we are just a little late in putting the cats and chickens up for the night you hear them at our back door letting us know it is time for bed. Grant you the chickens know how to put themselves up, but they like when we walk them into their pin, because we give them a little snack before they settle in for the night.

God did answer my prayer about teaching us the things we needed to learn about chickens in caring for them properly. God has used this farm to show Himself to us in such amazing ways. I look forward to the many lessons He has for us in the caring of the animals on KTS Ministries Farm.

#chickens #prayer #farm #ktsministries

Featured Posts
Follow Us
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Basic Square
bottom of page