Monday, August 27, 2012

Shelter Chickens

Remember Penny the former house chicken?  We picked her up at the local shelter.  She was raised in someone's house and never saw other chickens before.  She knew only people.  Her owner couldn't keep her and dropped her off at the shelter, where we found and rescued her. The shelter calls us permanent foster parents.

Penny's doing great.  She immediately started laying eggs in the chicken coop and has laid an egg a day every day since.  She gets along great with all the other chickens.  I am surprised how well she fits in.  But she still prefers to be in the house rather than outside in the chicken pen. 

Whenever she sees me in the chicken pen she runs to me, hoping I will pick her up and take her inside the human house.  She tries to escape from the chicken pen whenever anyone opens the gate, which is really annoying.  I take her inside the house when I can and lock her in the kitchen.  I usually take her in when I'm cooking dinner so I can keep an eye on her.  She likes the TV to be on.  She is totally happy in the kitchen.  Silly bird.  She runs when I attempt to catch her in the kitchen to take her back outside again.  Poor hen thinks she's a human stuck in a chicken's body.

Penny loves to eat from the cat bowls and drink from the cat fountain.  She always spills the dry catfood all over the floor.  I'm very happy with her, she was totally healthy, is young and vibrant ~ less than a year old, has no medical problems or mite issues.  We told the shelter we were only going to accept healthy birds.  But I guess every bird that comes from the shelter is going to have a unique story and a unique personality.

And so, on Saturday we welcomed our next shelter hen.
I haven't named her yet.  She and a rooster were caught wandering the streets of Washington DC!  I didn't take the rooster, sadly, as I don't need any more roosters.  She's a huge bird - she must weigh approximately 20 pounds.  She's way overweight.  She hardly can walk she's so fat.  To me it looks like she was caged in a small area and was never allowed to walk around.  The rooster was caged with her, as she had evident signs of feather loss from mating with a rooster.  The rooster looked like a Rhode Island Red.  I don't know what she looks like.  Then her owners must have let the two chickens free for some reason.  Maybe they couldn't keep them anymore.  And so two chickens were found wandering the city streets.

So this poor hen and her rooster lived in a tiny pen in the city and were not able to walk around.  I 'm guessing someone got her for her eggs.  They fed her well, but who knows what they fed her.  I think she's over a year old.  But she was in the shelter for a week and didn't lay any eggs for that week.

She doesn't know how to sit on a roost, I think she's too heavy to balance herself.  She likes to sit on the floor.  She doesn't know how to drink from a chicken waterer and she hasn't eaten any chicken food, although she did eat some scratch grain.  I bet she was only fed table scraps.  They don't have many chicken feed stores in the city.  She's being kept in our infirmary coop for a few days and is being watched.  She has a window where she can look out and see the other birds; she really wants to be outside with the other birds.  She appears to be healthy, she doesn't have any mites and appears to be breathing fine.  I'm concerned that when we let her loose with the other chickens that they will pick on her and she will not be able to run away because she's too slow.  So she's on a diet.
I'll let you know what I name her... 

Every shelter chicken has a story, and this hen is quite different from the last one. 

They now have two roosters in my local shelter - one is this hen's mate, and the other is a lean black rooster.  The gal the works at the shelter told me they thought the black rooster was a fighting cock.  It was insinuated that he was going to be put down because he was a fighter.  I looked at him - he was young and scared to death, but he had no signs of ever fighting.  Maybe he was born to fight, but that rooster never fought.  People don't understand animals sometimes.  I entered his cage (the chicken cages are large pens in which a person can walk) and attempted to pick him up.  The girl looked at me like I was crazy.  The rooster was terrified of me, but he certainly didn't attempt to attack me.  I caught him and held him in my arms and pet his wattle and his head and within minutes he totally calmed down and fell asleep in my arms.  He was just scared to death before.  When he stopped being scared he was a great bird.  He woke up and nuzzled me.  I wondered if he was someone's pet at one time.  I showed the shelter employee that he was a lovebug.  If I needed a rooster I would take him in a heartbeat.  I bet he'd make a great flock leader.  But alas, I have 2 roosters already, which is perfect for my flock.  I kissed him on the head and put him down on the floor and he cuddled up and continued to sleep.  So sad that he is homeless.

As I left the shelter with the new chicken I purposely didn't even look at any of the other animals there.  If I saw them I'd probably fall in love with all of them.      


~ Janis said...

THANK YOU for doing a good evaluation on a rooster who needs an angel like you to educate the shelter staff. Most shelter staff have no idea how to evaluate livestock or poultry. The younger the staff the less experience they have. Shelter staff are usually overwhelmed with the soon-to-be-homeless domestic pets continually coming through their doors. They do a great job but need people who are experts in other breeds or livestock to come in and evaluate, rescue or foster. Name suggestion for the hen: Martha Washington.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Yay ... another lucky hen gets a loving home! Fascinating how the black rooster turns out to be a snuggle bug. I'm hoping the attendant learned something about roosters. Maybe now, knowing that he's not a fighting bird they will try harder to find a home for him.

Farm Girl said...

When I was there the last time, someone had just brought in a milk cow. She had been someones pet you could tell and how I wanted to bring her home. There was a trailer there and they were dropping off a horse.
There were some other things happening that I can't talk about because it makes me cry. I know how hard it must have been to walk away and leave that rooster.
I can't go to those places without falling apart. I come home and watch hoarders and know I could be like that if I wasn't careful.
Cute chickens, Penny just cracks me up.

Carolyn Renee said...

Those two chickens are definitely some LUCKY, LUCKY ducks, er, I mean, Chickens!

LindaG said...

Yup. Lucky chickens!

Chai Chai said...

Another great story. How about; Mrs Smith? You know, the whole goes to Washington movie thing....

Lisa said...

Until I read your post, I'd never heard of shelter chickens. You're doing a great job. Keep it up. I can't go to our shelter here or I'd have so many animals I'd have no room to sleep.

Elizabeth said...

Sad that shelter staff don't understand chickens better than that. Sometimes it just takes someone looking, really looking at an animal to know. Like you did. Fear isn't aggression. Glad you took a moment and shared it with them and us.

Country Girl said...

So glad you rescued that chicken! Maybe one of your friends will rescue the rooster! - Don't forget to bring some eggs next time you're coming up to our house! We love them!

Razzberry Corner said...

Janis - They gal at the shelter was very young, she didn't know about chickens. They are doing the best they can. I'm going to keep tabs on them and visit their birds often, I think. I'll be their chicken expert!

CA Grammy - I hope they find a home for that rooster, but you know, I bet they don't. No one wants a spare rooster, sadly. Farms usually have enough.

Kim - A milk cow!!! At a shelter! How very sad!

CR and LindaG- Yes, they are kucky chickens!! :)

Chai Chai - maybe... Randy needs to agree on the name, that's the tough part. He's particular.

Lisa - I know, I'm the same way!

Elizabeth - you are very right - fear isn't aggression. Most animals are very afraid at the shelter.

Hi Barb - I don't know when I'm coming back up - need make plans!! :)


Knatolee said...

I love that you have a part-time house chicken!