You may recall that last
had our broiler chicks scratch up the leaf litter under our peach tree
as a way of cutting down on our Oriental fruit moth problem. While I’m sure the
chicks helped, they weren’t really big enough to have much impact —
you can only put chicks outside so early in the spring, and by the time
the peach trees bloom, your window for pest control has ended.
So, this year, I decided to use our big-footed laying flock instead.
At first, I’d considered
moving the whole flock up here, but Mark helped me see that two adult
hens could have a pretty big impact pretty fast. Rather than
building the nomadic
coop that I still
haven’t been entirely able to design in my mind, Mark fixed up one of
our old tractors and I transferred two Rhode Island Reds over in the
dead of night. I left them in the closed tractor for a day to
hopefully solidify their new home base, then opened the door and let
them roam within some temporary
experiment was a total failure. My theory with adding two Rhode
Island Reds is that they’re at the bottom of the main flock’s pecking
order and roost together off by themselves at night, so I figured they
must get along. It turns out they don’t. One is pondering
going broody and spent most of her first day in the nest box, then
decided that pecking at her sister was more fun. In short order,
the pecked-on sister flew over the fence and fled back to the rooster
(who greeted her in an X-rated fashion). Suddenly lonely, the
mean sister flew the temporary coop and followed.
So now we’re back to
plan A — chicks eating up whatever they can before the flowers come
out. Luckily, spring is moving slowly this year, so we may get
some scratching done before full bloom. In the long run, I’m
wondering whether it would be worth raising two hens separately so
they’re not bonded to the main flock and would be willing to do some
garden chores for me, but then I’d have to deal with tractored chickens
in the winter. I’ll keep pondering….
multiple flocks going since daily care is minimized with clean water.