Updated: Feb 26
My father loved keeping chickens and for several years we watched them run around and enjoy his company. Sadly my father passed away last year and not long after, so did the chickens; as a result of human error, the fox got a big meal and we got an empty chicken run...
The garden has felt distinctly sad and silent, missing my father and the chickens. Whenever I walked to the greenhouse to check on the fish, I missed seeing the girls. We talked of acquiring chickens through the summer and decided to get some new ones (at point of lay) just after Christmas.
All the girls are really friendly. At first they were shy and a bit baffled by their new home and new faces. However, they've settled in, know their way in and out and get very excited when they see you coming. Their eager curiosity is fun to watch. You almost expect them to jump up and hug you!
Chickens are in essence very social. They love company and they thrive well in numbers. It seems that already after a week and a half they are beginning to establish a new social understanding. Who sits where to sleep appears to be one of the first signs. Eating wise they appear to all share nicely, but just this morning the pecking order started to show signs.
Apparently social hierarchy is complicated but as adversarial as it may appear, the pecking order is necessary. I've learned from the past that you cannot interfere - as harsh as it may appear. The chickens must establish an order and it will happen naturally so no point in trying to separate them (for age differences or serious ganging up it's a different matter). We currently have 3 sleeping groups - there's one on her own, two together and three in a group. Cliques are normal too and will eventually develop with sub-hierarchies. It's a whole new world we are keen to learn about.