Sunday, 2 March 2014

Chickens in the Garden

What is a Pullet?

A pullet is a young hen in the first year of her life. She is a first time layer. When a pullet starts to lay her eggs are smaller than an adult hen's eggs.

Our young pullets have just turned twenty weeks old. Now the books tell us that they can start laying any time from now on. We will watch and wait. The pullets from last year were about ten months before they started to lay. 

First Big Afternoon in the Garden

A couple of days ago the pullets were allowed into the back garden for the first time. They have their own run and this was their first time out into the big garden. 

Plan of chicken house and run

I had planted silver beet plants around the outside of their house and they had to pass this to get into the garden. Yes, you're right. They didn't get too far into the garden. And yes, you are right again. There are no leaves left on my silver beet plants. However I had harvested most of the bigger leaves for ourselves first.

Today I let the little hens out again. They took a while to get out their gate but as there were no silver beet leaves left they moved on into the garden for the first time. 

Can the Pullets Find Their Way Home?

Expecting the pullets to find their own way back to their shed, we kept peeping out to see if they had gone in for the night. It was 8.15pm and almost dark when there were still two of these little creatures wandering about.

One of them was on the back doorstep. We could not understand this then realized that they could not find their way back to their house. Poor little creatures. They had been attracted to the light of our living room.

Chickens Cannot See in the Dark

Now, chickens cannot see in the dark. This is why they go to bed with the evening light. They are different to ducks and geese. 

We used to have geese who wandered freely. They were especially active at night on the full moon. They honked under our bedroom window all night long as they grazed on our front lawn. (We lived on a farm in those days.) 

Ducks can also see at night but not chickens. However chickens are 'up with the birds' in the morning. Remember how roosters wake everyone up at 5.30am?

Home at Last

We went out and guided the pullets back to their shed. They quickly jumped up into the box where they all sleep together and peace reigned.

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