Chicken Politics Redux: The Fate of Orange

Many of you wanted to know the outcome for poor Orange. Here is a blow by blow ( or peck by scratch) description:

Day 1– We brought Orange out of Adrianna’s enclosure the next day into the “open air pavilion,” as a neutral meeting ground. It is a fenced-in area next to the barn, the ground covered with hay. Her flock loves to hang out there when they are too disgusted with the snow.* We locked them into the inner barn, and opened the adjoining door to Twisty’s flock. Stunned silence. No action. They had never been in the pavilion (they have their own run). They didn’t come out – and Orange didn’t go in. There was studied indifference on both sides though we caught a few subtle sideways glances. The morning passed like that.

In the afternoon we had mercy on Grouse the Third’s flock, put Orange safely into her travel box, put her back in Adrianna’s enclosure, let the flock out (they were rather testy) and waited for another day.

Day 2 – Same procedure. This time Orange put a chicken foot on the entrance sill of Twisty’s area. No fireworks. At the end of the day Twisty’s flock still hadn’t entered the pavilion and Orange, never having really entered Twisty’s area, went voluntarily back into her travel box.

Day 3– We brought Orange out and opened the door to Twisty’s flock. I looked back an hour later (from the office I could hear if there was any carnage) and she was in with Twisty and Gimpette, pecking around, very elaborately casual.

Day 4 – To date, they all seem to be adjusting, bit by bit. The four were out in the run and Orange was still in the chicken coop, not yet daring to go out to the new area. But- at least she was in the coop.

Day 5– Orange is out in Cody’s Run with the others! So far so good. We named it Cody’s Run because she had lovingly shoveled a long path through the wet heavy snow and then lined it with hay. They went out immediately…..

Tonight four hens were cozily huddled together on one end of the roost and poor Orange was quite by herself far on the other end. It is still all very new. Interestingly, for the first time Gimpette was snuggling with the others. She had always been a bit of an outsider, the others having grown up together and being very close. I guess it takes a new outsider to help the old outsider become an insider. But for now Orange is safe, and has companionship of a sort even if it is distant. She is not alone in the coop. She has other chickens near her as she forages. It will just take time.

*For those with insomnia or a passion for structural detail, here is a map of the layout, easier to see than describe in words….ChickenHouse2025

by Susan Eirich, PhD

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