Friday, January 6, 2012

What a GREAT Idea!

I was reading along in a blog site that I follow called Community Chickens.  One of the bloggers on the site suggested that she never needs to compost her autumn leaves.  She just piles them in her chicken's pen and they compost it for her.  Well, a lightbulb went off in my head.

Betty has taken to just picking the feathers off the backs of Tulip and Victoria.  And not only that, but she's taught Pete Rose how to do it as well, so now the two nearly bald-backed girls have two feather pluckers to contend with.  I've tried a number of things to alleviate Betty's boredom.  She's actually quite a smart little chicken and she's plucking not to be mean but to give herself something to do.  I've hung a cabbage in the pen to give her something to peck at, which she does use, but it's not worked.  I bought a ridiculously expensive "pecking block", which is rock hard made with seeds and such.  Though Magnolia does love this thing, she's not a problem with the plucking, and Betty doesn't pay it any mind.  It's mostly gone and I can't see that Betty or Pete Rose have used it at all. 

The girl's pen has been rock hard dirt for a while now.  They've eaten all the grass out, and the soil is so compacted by them and now frozen that it's basically almost asphalt hard.  Mostly they wander around in there aimlessly.  I read on the Chicken Community blog that a couple of people have taken to throwing their autumn leaves in their chickens pen.  Apparently, the chickens will make compost out of it for you with no shredding or anything required.  They mulch it up with all their scratching.  BINGO! Something to give the girls that will provide hours of scratching pleasure.  And, it will make me compost for the garden.  And, it doesn't cost me a cent?  Sounds like just the ticket!

So, I went along the driveway and raked up two wheelbarrow loads full of fallen oak leaves.  Then I slogged them across the yard and heaved them over the fence.  The girls were a bit nervous to say the least!  They did not know what to make of those leaves.  Until Tulip, my brave girl, ventured over and set in the first scratch-and-pluck.  Then, the others, seeing that nothing sprung from the pile and ate her all up, came and did the same.  The piles I had put in were soon spread to all corners of their pen with much happy clucking and chatting from the girls.  They were able to forage, just what they were meant to do!

It remains to be seen if it will make any difference in the problems with Betty's feather plucking, but they sure were happy to have a new diversion for a while.  Even Pete Rose got in on the action, though he kept a wary eye on my "Big Bad Black Boots".  He's convinced they are only out to get him, for some reason, they have become the enemy.  Like I've said many times before, they are not known for their brains, and roosters even less so.

Wishing you scratchy leaves and happy clucking in your pen, ~Peacemom


Dog Trot Farm said...

Vonnie, feather pecking is a chicken keeper's nightmare. I add a tablespoon of unfiltered apple vinegar in the girls water, I too keep a seed block, bought at tractor supply on sale for $10.99, but it last months. I spray naked rear ends with Blue-Kote and have placed straw out in their run. I will be curious to see how the leaves work, certainly makes sense. Keep me posted! Have a good weekend, Julie.

small farm girl said...

That IS a great idea!

Jennifer and Steve said...

This seems like an excellent idea for the chickens. :)

We completely source our purchased food items too. There are so many chemicals in so many things - we always try to be vigilant.

We are working on painting here....more on that on the blog in the next week.

Our temps are warming now. A 50 degree day is in the forecast. CRAZY!

Enjoy your tea and seed catalogs. We are SOOOOOO excited for spring!