Saturday, September 1, 2012

Update on shelter hen

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. 


Chai Chai said...

I like to think that the animals who live here enjoy it because I want them to be happy, can you imagine having animals and not caring?

You are really doing a good thing!

Kessie said...

Wow, the poor thing. It's so weird to watch them and figure things out from what they know and what they don't. Here I was thinking she was one of those chickens somebody raised under their kitchen sink. But if she'd been raised with normal chickens first, and then was confined, that's somehow worse.

Farm Girl said...

It just breaks your heart doesn't it? I was watching an old movie the other night and they had a cock fight in it and it looked real, in fact I am sure it was real. I thought I was going to be sick. I think of people being mean to chickens like that and it just tears me up. I am so glad that Penny has a good home now and that you rescued her. To bad about the rooster.

Country Girl said...

You're doing a good job little sister.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I love happy endings! Lucky Bonnie you guys came to her rescue, she'll live happily ever after!

John Going Gently said...

yes a happy ending lightens the heart

Knatolee said...

I'm really glad she's with you now, living a wonderful chicken life!

Razzberry Corner said...

Chai Chai - No I cannot imagine not caring about my animals! Or worse, abusing them. I don't understand people.

Kessie - It is worse yo me that she was a normal chicken and then that was taken from her. She knew how good life could be, and knew that now it was over. Poor girl.

Kim - I've never actually watched a real human-made cock fight. I've just seen my own roosters fighting, which is bad enough!

Barb - Thank you! :)

CA Grammy - Yes, she'll live out the rest of her life in happiness and freedom. A fairy-tale ending. I should write a children's book.

John G - Yes, it does. Happily ever after.

Nat - me too. Bonnie is a very nice hen. She's very mature, very gentle, very calm. Still hasn't laid even one egg. But I still love her.

Penny, on the other hand, is the most hyper hen, dashing around the pen like a nut and has only taken one day off from laying in about a month now.