Yesterday was our Dominicker chicks’ first day out of the barn. Cherie and I set up the new coops and net fencing on Thursday evening, then moved the chicks into the coops. Yesterday morning I opened the doors for them, expecting them to plunge enthusiastically into nature. But having spent all their life inside, they were very reluctant to leave the coops.
We put 10 chicks in the smaller coop. They refused to come out and spent all day just looking out the door.
We put 16 in the larger coop. They too refused to leave the coop for most of the day.
But late in the afternoon they all spilled out. Then the question was whether they’d go back in for the night.
Some figured it out quickly and went up the ladder to the roost. A few tried, in vain, to roost on the roof of the coop. Finally the last of them filed up the ladder to bed and I could close the door and return to my own roost.
Hopefully tomorrow the more cowardly bunch (there’s a good reason we call cowards “chickens”) will leave their coop. I expect they’ll all have it figured out in a few days.
We’re very happy to be a part of keeping this great old breed alive. As I’ve mentioned before, they were once the most common breed on American farms but were driven to near extinction as the industrial model took over American agriculture. They’re the most docile breed we’ve ever had and they have very soft feathers and are a delight to handle.
The rest of our chickens are true free range, but these ladies are destined to do garden clean-up duty so we’re training them to solar powered electrified net fencing. The idea is to move them into spent gardens to have them wipe out pest larvae while tilling and fertilizing the soil. We’re excited to see how it works.