Where are the Hens?

Yesterday morning we woke to snow, which turned to freezing rain, which switched to a torrential downpour. The chickens stayed indoors. When chickens get crowded, they get nasty to each other and peck at the lowest hen on the pecking order. The trick is to keep them busy. So right after lunch, I put on rain boots and a coat and a hat and dashed outside with some leftover cornflakes. All of the girls were milling about on the floor of the henhouse, and when they saw the treats, they clucked with appreciation.

About a half hour later, while working at my computer, I turned on the hencam to check on the girls. No one was inside! I checked the outside cam. Huge raindrops on the lens blocked my view, but still, no chickens in sight. Had I left the door open in my haste in the rain? I rushed downstairs and threw on a coat to go see. The rain was now a steady drizzle. The hens had had it with being indoors. All ten of them were crammed under Candy’s hutch, where they could still be outside but relatively dry.

You learn a lot about animals when they have choices about their living environment. Yesterday, the hens could have stayed comfortably indoors, but they chose to be outside, despite the fact that under the hutch they were more crowded than in their coop. Even hens, who are creatures with very small brains, get bored. Even hens prefer fresh air and an interesting landscape. My hens have a comfortable and clean coop and yet they don’t want to be in all day. What does that say about battery caged hens? I don’t want to think about it.

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