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"Trouble" in our Flock

By Faraday40 · Feb 17, 2016 · Updated Jun 16, 2016 ·
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  1. Faraday40
    What started out as a simple science camp turned into a passion for poultry, but that's a whole different story. Today I'd like to introduce the 2 newest members of our flock.

    As part of my daughter's 4H science project last year, she incubated & hatched several chicks. Due to limited coop space, most of the hatch results had to be sold. For a long time she begged for a Dominique. With no local sources, we ordered eggs from the web & received an expensive box of scrambled eggs. One lucky but lonely chick hatched on July 5, 2015. To keep her company, DD pulled out a Sebright chick (hatched July 1, 2015) from her project's 3rd trial. A friendship was born! [​IMG]

    The Dom was named "Bubbles" for her happy personality & fun feather pattern. She always runs up to greet us and must get involved with everything we do. Her cute, little pink eggs even have white specks - which also resemble bubbles. Recently DD started training Bubbles to do card tricks. (She's currently working on a science project involving classical conditioning.) Bubbles is a perfect volunteer & very happy to spend time with her "Mama."
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    The Sebright (a very quick, flighty, loud, but adorable bird) was given the name "Trouble." Her purpose was simple: to be a companion for Bubbles until she became integrated into the flock. The two BFFs were inseparable and soon became a great source of backyard entertainment. When fall came, we had a few offers to take Trouble but were torn whether we should separate the BFFs. DD argued that a Sebright is so small, it shouldn't even be counted in our chicken numbers. She brought up a good a good point, so we decided to see how a Sebright will do with our cold Midwest winters. Thankfully, we have several fluffy Orpingtons to keep Trouble warm.
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    Our flock consists of a few Easter Eggers, backyard mixes, Orpingtons, and now a Dom & Sebright. All of the chickens were hatched here and very used to be being handled. They all come running when called & are trained to put themselves into the coop when told. (I refuse to chase chickens.) They are so docile that any visiting child can simply bend down & pick one up. All except for Trouble.

    Trouble is friendly, a great flyer, fast, & impossible to catch if she decides to be. That's why I decided to work with her. Trouble is trained to come & land on my arm when on command. (Or at least when I call AND have my treat pail.) At first she merely hopped onto my hand from the roost. With only 3-5 min per day, in less than 2 weeks, she will fly over 10 ft to reach me. She'll also fly down out of a tree or up from the ground. DD has mostly been working with her Bubbles, but she plays with Trouble too. She can get Trouble to fly 3-4ft & land on her arm.

    So far the only drawback is that Trouble follows me wherever I go. Sometimes when I reach out to grab something I get a Sebright on my arm. (But she only gets rewarded when I call her first.) Of course before training, she would sometimes try to land on my back, head, shoulder, etc. I have a strong swatting reflex when something is coming at me, so the training is helping us both build trust. It also teaches Trouble a more appropriate place to land.
    Mid-Flight
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    Just before landing.See how she sticks her feet out forward to grab hold of my arm? All I see are CLAWS coming at me. It's a trust exercise for both of us.
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    I'll always love my big, cuddly lap chickens. My family enjoys their giant eggs. I honestly never thought of keeping a bantam - especially one that could FLY. I never expected one could enjoy a tiny chicken in a big way. Who knew that adding a little "Trouble" into the flock would make life more fun?!

    Update:
    My orps are very easy-going, so Trouble believes that she is Queen on the Coop. Then she began to act even more demanding - as if her normal personality wasn't enough! Although all the articles I've read state that Sebrights "seldom go broody" Trouble cannot read, so she decided to hatch a few eggs. Each morning, I'd laugh & remove a giant 2.8 to 3 oz egg out from under her. After a week of being kicked out of the nest, she refused to let go of the broody idea. I finally gave in & allowed her to sit on the 2 smallest eggs I could find.
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    I set up a broody apartment in a big dog crate where she could sit in peace, as well as a back up incubator with eggs set on the same day. (For a few days her mama (Cookie, a bantam orp) also thought about going broody, but she gave it up.) Only one egg hatched (the other was a clear), so I added 2 chicks of the same age. So here is Trouble with her 4 day old chicks (below). I just moved them into the coop inside an old rabbit cage. (Keeps the little family safe while the flock gets used to their presence.) In about 2 weeks, those chicks will be about Trouble's size. I'm curious to see how she'll deal with that, but thankfully the weather is finally getting warmer.
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    Here she is with all 3 chicks under her. From this angle, you can see the black one.
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    Update #2
    The pic says it all..... This is how Trouble is dealing with her giant Orpington chicks.
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    In unrelated news, we like our incubated chicks to have grass time just like they would get from a broody. To keep them safe from hawks we use a chicken tractor & simply train them to go back & forth.

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