happy relaxed chicken or 3 yr old hen becoming geriatric

Teresa Lundquis

In the Brooder
Jul 23, 2016
This is day 6 of owning 3 3 yr old hens plymouth rock barred ( got them for grasshopper control and to just learn). The girls have given me some eggs.

I let the girls out into my fenced 25 ft x 25 ft organic garden filled with horrible grass hoppers. I did 3 days of them confined to a small area with me staying with them for an hour in the garden and otherwise they stay in the hen coop in the barn.

So today the girls had free run and eventually they dug a hole in the cool moist earth and proceeded to take a dirt bath. Rolling almost upside down throwing dirt under their wings. And then one was falling asleep. The 2 other hens joined her but didn't fall asleep. This was mid morning and the temps were a beautiful 70 degrees. It been brutally hot ion 90's.

I got the hens from my friend house and they were in their coop with a run maybe 10 ft x 10 ft-I'm guessing, well cared for but they didn't go into the garden with cool soft moist soil.

I was wondering if this is happy hens or are they being old slowing down. They seem like healthy hens, not super feisty or aggressive. Seems appropriate amount of running away from me.

I kept the same mash food they ate and oyster shells. I have been giving them small amounts of food scraps, like apple cores, tomatoes, pear that was mushy.

How much non grain stuff is ok? I don't want to give then diarrhea. They seemed to have fun chasing grasshoppers for an hour and then settled on excavation a hole. The hole area was where I had harvested my garlic so very soft and it had rained 2 " last night-rare. There usually never any soft dirt on the dry prairie. So far they have not scratched up other plants like zuccini. The grasshoppers ate all my cabbage and swiss chard. One energetic chicken was pecking at the sleeping one as if to say move out, no sleeping allowed.
I am just getting to know chickens of my own. When I first rented half a house ( 6 mos) when we moved to CO the landlady had hens. The neighbor kids were 4 H kids so we all learned together. I was worried I would never catch mine to bring them back to their enclosure but I did ok. I transfer them to a med dog kennel and then use a wheelbarrow to wheel the girls back to the barn. These chicken were not handled a lot.
Yeah, keep the extras to a minimum........too much fruit can make them 'loose'.

They can in fact do a good bit of 'lounging' between bouts of foraging, laying.....
...........either in the dust bowl after bathing or just sitting around, sometimes with a leg and/or wing stretched out int the sun.

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