Nursing Home Pullets

The five pullets have settled right into their coop at the nursing home. They seem to be getting good care. I’ve stopped by a few times, and they’ve always had food and water, and their bedding is clean. It can be a tad boring in their run, so I brought them a present of a treat holder. I’ve left instructions for the staff to give them something fresh each day.

hen treats

I’m still working on protocols for chicken care at a facility, and tweaking the housing so that the chickens will get consistent attention, and so that the residents can best interact with the birds. Fortuitously, a young man named Richard, who has just graduated from college and is applying to medical school, lives nearby and is home for the summer. He has volunteered to work with a few of the clients, bringing them outside to engage with the pullets. He has a scientific mind and will be attempting to quantify how having these animals affects the lives of the residents.

I taught him how to pick up a chicken, and how to teach them to come. When he’s there, the birds will be able to get out into a grassy, fenced area.

hens out


Notice the woman looking out of the window. She’s in the common room for the memory loss residents. Already the Director is noticing that they are looking outside more; the chickens give them something to think about and focus on.

Because of patient confidentiality, I can’t show photos of the residents. But, I’ll be posting more about this project, and the coop, in the weeks to come.

I am available to consult with other institutions to help them bring chickens onto their properties in order to enrich the lives of their residents. I also have an entertaining hour program about chickens geared for nursing homes. I bring a chicken! Please email me if interested.


  1. I just love this so much. I’m so glad you put the time and effort in this project. I know the residents will really enjoy the chickens. I love seeing updates about it.

    • Photo I mean is the one showing coop and yard, with coop door open and pullets out in grassy yard at fence.

      • I had a pigeon aviary once and fed wild birds. Pigeons are fast. Hawks are faster (and hungry).
        It just depends on the situation.

    • I don’t think there is cause for concern: Terry said that the chickens are outside the coop/run to free-range in that fenced-in grassy area only while under supervision.

  2. I agree with Anna…this is a wonderful idea! Glad there’s another helper for the summer and excited to hear how the residents enjoy being out with the girlz.

  3. Thanks for this post, Terry. I have been looking forward to reading your follow-up posts about the nursing home hens Great to hear that they are already having a noticeable positive impact on the memory loss residents.
    Slightly off-topic, I noticed in the second photo that there isn’t a lot of shade in the run area, and no trees in sight. In several of your blogs you have mentioned that chickens have more trouble coping with heat than cold, so I am wondering if will there be some sort of shade area provided for the hens as the temperatures get warmer in the coming months. Maybe a shade cloth over part of the run, like what you have installed over Phoebe’s hutch?

    • That’s a good point, and I’m aware of it. In the budget proposal I mentioned a shade tarp might be necessary. It was more important to site the coop within view of the residents, than back along the tree line. The coop has very good ventilation, so we’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, the residents, themselves, need an umbrella as it is too sunny in their viewing area.

      • Oh, right – silly me! Now that you mention it, I think you already did talk about that in one of your earlier nursing home project posts. It makes perfect sense to site the coop within view of the residents, rather than way back at the tree line. Hey, maybe the Director would be open to the idea of providing the residents with covered bleachers outside the coop/run … or some café tables with umbrellas where they can enjoy their afternoon tea outdoors in the fresh air, while taking in the sights and sounds of contented chooks. :-)

  4. Good to hear things are going well with the nursing home project. I agree with Anna and Kit wholeheartedly. Keep up the good work. Hope you get lots of responses to your program.

    PS I made your spinach and lentil soup — delish.

  5. Great job Terry!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to have my son -in-law look at this. He owns a memory loss nursing home. This program would be great for them too Thank you:).

  6. My mum-in-law (aged 96) lives with us and gets a lot of pleasure from looking out into the garden when our chickens are free-ranging. She was born and raised in London, so never came into contact with live hens etc (My husband was only allowed a goldfish as a little boy!) However, she really enjoys watching them pecking around through her window. :-)

  7. The pullets in the photo appear to be out of the coop, into the grassy fenced-in yard. I am sooooo fearful the hawks will get them since the grassy yard is not covered over! I thought they were going to be confined to the safety of the covered coop. Now I am very worried and not keen on them having been turned over to the nursing home. Reminds me of a canned hunt for predators.

  8. It has been proven that animals make changes in people’s lives, can bring them happiness when they just can’t find any. My hat is off to you. I wish we had more creative and caring angels and followers. Please keep me posted, you give me a good feeling in my heart.

  9. Shade cloth not only provides shade but a psychological overhead protection–like being under a tree, less visible by predators. Transporting birds in cages in a car I was taught that covering the top of the cage with a cloth or damp towel (in the summer) was calming.

    • In this situation with a smallish totally fenced run and a coop right there, there’s no need for cover. I’ve found that my chickens travel happily in their crates (I’m sure this is different for different species.) What does bother them is when nightfalls they look for a place to roost. That’s when I cover them. If it’s dark, they go right to sleep.

  10. They need an awning over that window large enough to not only shade the window so the people can see out, but large enough to put some nice benches under it outside. Maybe one of those retractable awnings…someone should call the company and ask for a donation of one. It would be good business. All the visitor’s would see it.