|Bonnie in the center, with guinea keet on left and Muffin on right|
The new shelter chicken has officially been named - - - - - Bonnie!
Let me back up in case you don't know who I'm talking about. Bonnie is a hen we adopted from the local animal shelter a week ago. She was in the shelter in a large cage for a week before we picked her up. The cage was large enough for her to walk around in - a person could walk around in there. But when we got her, Bonnie could hardly walk.
It seems Bonnie was confined and was not allowed to walk at her last home. And then for some unknown reason she was released into the city streets of Washington DC to wander free. And she was picked up by animal control. Because of her confinement, Bonnie lost all her foot and leg strength. Obviously her owners only wanted her for her eggs. Also because she got zero exercise, Bonnie was terribly overweight. She wore out quickly after little exertion.
|Bonnie in center|
After 2 weeks of being able to walk around, Bonnie is gaining some strength in her legs and feet and wears out less quickly. She has great willpower. For the last week she sat by a fenced door looking out into the chicken pen, watching the other chickens, talking to them. All she wanted was to be with them. I carried Bonnie out to the chicken pen a few times and let her attempt to walk around, and she did fine around the other birds. Friday I carried her out and was letting her get some exercise, and she was doing so well and seems so happy that I decided to let her stay outside in the chicken pen with the other chickens and guinea keets. I was going to wait until nighttime and let her roost with the other chickens and release her Saturday morning, but Bonnie really wanted to stay free.
And - this is where it gets really sad. I quickly realized that before Bonnie was confined to a caged prison where she couldn't move for a very long time (I'm thinking she was locked up many months or even a year to get in such bad shape!), she was with other chickens and was in a coop and walked free. Bonnie totally got along with the other chickens. She saw holes in the dirt and instantly knew to roll in the dirt without hesitation. She walked up the little ramp into the chicken coop as soon as she saw it. Other chickens had to be taught to walk up the ramp. Bonnie knew what the ramp was. She happily got up on a roost in the chicken coop before bedtime. She knew to go into the coop at nighttime and knew what a roost was.
|Bonnie in center, Freckles right|
I'm comparing Bonnie's behavior to the other shelter hen, Penny. Penny never was around other chickens and it was obvious. She struggled learning the basics, like how to roost, how to walk up the ramp, how to just be around other birds. She still prefers to be alone. Bonnie is just the opposite of Penny.
This is sad. This means this was a normal free chicken that someone took from a farm and caged and abused. I'm wondering if she stopped laying and that's why she was released. She hasn't laid an egg in over 2 weeks now. Worse, was she replaced? Is there another poor hen in a cage right now? The shelter staff didn't know where Bonnie came from, just knew the neighborhood where she was found.
I really like Bonnie hen now that I've gotten to know her, and it breaks my heart that anyone would abuse a living creature. I guess, what did I expect getting animals from the local shelter? Of course they may have been abused. I was lucky that the first hen I got (Penny) was someone's inside pet and was spoiled rotten. Now Bonnie will live the rest of her life at our farm, never to be caged again. Poor Bonnie has had a tough life for a chicken.