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!
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."
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
Here she is with all 3 chicks under her. From this angle, you can see the black one.
The pic says it all..... This is how Trouble is dealing with her giant Orpington chicks.
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.