Ambassadors for the farm

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by centrarchid, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Did not actually put them in, rather trained them to go in on their own. They had been taken on multiple such rides to get them use to stressor. Motorcycle / scooter is something they spend time around every day so it was a known they used as cover at display site. Once birds settled in scooter was removed. Was very important since birds had to be calm enough to retrieve at end of day. Birds were effectively free range on site where they had to interact with public. Carrier was a bit tight for rooster's tail as made evident in photographs.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Long ride to work in style while sitting in the front seat of Colorado with airconditioner blasting and radio set to classical music.

    Sallie and Eduardo kicking back.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Today I gave another chicken presentation, this time to city kids and got a solid hour in a controlled classroom environment. My intention was to spend considerable time discussing biology, social structure, and communication. Following a brief slide show, I released Slugger (1 year old game stag) to roam around room. He spent most of his time on one desk but did eventually make two short flights to other desks. He had troubles with slick surfaces but did manage to avoid falling to floor. Slugger also crowed quite a bit going through entire wing flapping routine. I explained purpose behind crowing at that time. Then we discussed how Slugger was replacing his feathers by molting. The concepts of social structure and communication were addressed as Slugger spoke to with Sallie still in a cat crate. The high point was when Sallie was released and Slugger mounted for a cloacal kiss which was fun to explain. I then described how eggs were fertilized; nest site was chosen by both birds and prepared by hen. We also discussed how a clutch was laid and incubation progressed to hatch with imprinting occurring during days 19 through 22 following start of incubation. I then pulled out some chicks of various ages and explained how them develop stressing importance of parental care. All worked well but chickens did poop a little.

    I attempted to take a broody hen but she bailed from nest as I walked with it to car. Would have been awesome to show a broody hen getting cranky.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Repeated above twice more today and will do it twice again in August. A real cool difference was this go around the rooster presented a potential nest site going through all the movements and body language. The behavior I think can be promoted under controlled conditions. The vocalizations are really cool and deserve effort to be recorded. It was also fun explaining all the vocalizations with respect to the meanings. This go around birds also interacted with kids a lot more. This was enabled by tossing mealworms about onto kids' laps.
     
  5. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great stuff! I did a seminar a few weeks ago on how to get started with urban chickens. I brought in my hen and 3 of her chicks and induced her to give "tidbit" call for chicks, but that was the only vocalization I could simulate (other than typical peeping of chicks).

    I was a bit concerned about illness and limited handling by the audience. Do you have any of these concerns when you bring your flock into public?
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I do this several times each year and knew that was going to be the case upon getting current job. Two chicks that were offspring of original display birds were set aside specifically for long-term use as ambassadors. A little extra work was invested in training and habituating to travel which greatly reduced aggravation when public is engaged.

    I do not have kids actually hold chicks, rather they can touch down and feathered covered areas while birds in my hands. Adult birds are so habituated that even when birds able to walk about unrestrained, contact between birds and kids can be realized although it is usually initiated by birds. I assume most of the audience has not had prior contact with chickens, at least not within same day, so disease via that route is not a major risk. Stress is what concerns me most and habituation of show birds helps with that greatly.


    Birds used for this have their own pens and upon return they are effectively quarantined from balance of flock. I also have a couple backup adult birds.

    A key trick to this is getting to location an hour or so before audience arrives which is normal for setting up projector and other props. The rooster is released to get used to area and called to me every few minutes to get him calmed down as I setup and as participants arrive. Rooster adapts better if he is able to observe participants as they come in. It also allows me to set rules of participant conduct as they arrive. If rooster is calm, then he can calm the hen when she is released. Calm birds make a lot more neat behaviors. Some of the props make so additional behaviors can be made.
     
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  7. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's great. I love to hear about kids having real contact with farm animals.

    Sounds like you have a good process for making everything run smoothly. I'll keep your tips in mind if I'm asked to do one again. I did get there early and felt this did help the birds but I hadn't thought about how a rooster would want to watch the participants arrive--makes sense though, when I think about how my rooster watches my kids' friends/parents coming into our yard.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Did it again and things got real graffic. Rooster and hen engaged in 8 cloacal kisses and many students could actually see sperm droplet. Rooster then did the little display indicating he had a good potential nest site and hen actually checked it out. All this occurred right under noses of kids. Videos where made; hopefully maker will upload them for me.
     
  9. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens

    Do you have classroom time also, or just this show & tell?
    Scott
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Class time restricted to aquaculture related and nutrition. We do not currently have poultry as part of curriculum. Poultry are occasionally used as examples for explaining fish hatchery concepts since for most students a known area is needed for comparison. Incubation and how it is intensified / scaled up does have some interesting comparisons.
     

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