Saturday, July 19, 2014

Feathered Warfare

Raising chickens is an important mainstay of homesteading. The eggs and meat are well worth the effort along with the pest control they provide. In addition, when it comes to entertainment value, chickens are among the best in my book. However, in among all the good of chickens there is an ugly truth: not all traits of a chicken are good.
For example, they are drawn to blood. They are merciless in their attack upon a fellow chicken if it so much as shows a speck of the red stuff. I believe the idea of gang warfare began in the Chickenhood. If one feather duster has a problem with another, and if there’s blood, then feathers are flying and all chip in on the assault.
Yesterday when I left for the grocery store there were two hens, three chicks and one peachick in front of the rabbitry where they do not belong (that is a whole ‘nuther story I may write on later). When I returned, I found all six feather dusters right where I had left them. However, to my dismay the peachick was a mess. From the top of its head down to its back and around the sides of the neck, there was nothing but blood and muscle. Moreover, it was not difficult to point a finger at the responsible parties. All three chicks had blood on their beaks.
How it started would be anyone’s guess. However, I would venture to say it was one of the hens that started the pecking. I know this because I’ve seen her peck at the peachicks before when her three beloved brats did not get the food she thought they should have gotten. Maybe she pecked a little too hard this time and drew a spot of blood. It obviously did not take much for the chicks to take over for mom. And, what gets me is the peachick’s mama hen was right there, and in my opinion, didn’t do a thing to help her adopted child.
We humans, for the most part, are a funny lot of emotional beings. But I have seen instances in the animal world where the young are protected to the best of the parents’ ability. What, then, happened here in this case? Was the peachick’s mother frightened that, if she were to intervene the pulverizing of her youngster, she would be attacked next? Come on, the gang of three was 7 week old chicks!
I could lament on the fact that times have changed, but we’re talking about chickens here. They’re able to free range, are fed non-GMO grains, aren‘t crowded, live in clean conditions and they all know their rank and serial number. I guess I’ll never know the bloody truth of yesterday. Not unless someone speaks up, and I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon.

The assaulted peachick