Bamf is now six and a half weeks old, and pretty much fully feathered. That means she can regulate her own body temperature now, and doesn’t have to sleep underneath Amy, who has been showing signs of tiring of motherhood.
Jeff and I agreed it was time to let Amy and Bamf out of the brooder pen and back into the flock. The chickens were ready, but the enclosure wasn’t. The hardcloth openings on the enclosure will keep in a big chicken (and keep out raccoons), but they won’t keep Bamf from slipping through. We had to go around with chicken wire and reinforce the sides.
Jeff also worked on the door, putting in a barrier to discourage chickens from escaping when I open the door to put in food, water, and treats. He also reinforced the wires in the door itself, because one of the center wires had popped loose and left an opening large enough for a small chicken like Sera…or one of the cats….to slip through.
Amy did not realize she was free from the brooder right away, but once she did, she spent a lot of time trying to escape Bamf. It made me terribly sad, but I know that’s how the chicken thing works sometimes. I knew it was going to be really bad at bedtime, because Amy was going to run off to the roosts with the rest of the chickens and leave Bamf alone.
And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Bamf spent several minutes calling and crying around the enclosure, and Amy ignored her. Finally, I went in and captured Bamf, who screamed bloody murder and tried to escape–hen raised chicks are not nearly as friendly as human raised ones–and put her in the big coop. She called and cried and still, Amy ignored her. I blocked the exit and waited her out.
I did notice that while Amy thought she belonged on the roost with the other chickens, Maalik and Abby disagreed. They pecked and bit and beat her with their wings. When I went back to check on Bamf, who had quieted and gone to sleep on one of the lower roosts, Amy had been dumped off by the other girls and was trying to get back up.
It’s my hope that the flock will discipline Amy until she accepts her responsibilities and in the morning, I will find her taking care of Bamf again and helping her to find her place in the flock.
We’re not out of the woods yet. Bamf doesn’t need Amy to keep her warm enough to stay alive, but she does need her to help her find her place in the flock until she can withstand the pecking order squabbles to find her place herself.
This is all new to me, too. I am back to seeing Bamf as Schroedinger’s Chick–both alive and dead at the same time until I observe her.
Cross your fingers.