Tag Archives: hens

Hens behaviour and senses.

Chicken Behaviors and Senses

Jonathan Balcombe (text) and L.A. Watson (illustrations)
Sensory nerves are located throughout the beak and help chickens negotiate fine movements when feeding, preening, building nests and in social interaction. Because the beak is so important for functions of touch and contain sensory nerves, birds subjected to the painful ordeal of de-beaking lose a significant part of their sensory system. It has been compared to losing one’s fingertips.
Chickens have olfactory receptors in their upper jaw and can respond to particular scents. This is helpful when making food choices. They can even react to odors that they were exposed to before hatching. Recent genetic analyses found that chickens have a similar number of olfactory receptors as humans, suggesting a comparable sense of smell to ours. A study conducted in Sweden and published in 2012 found that domestic chickens can detect predators using solely their sense of smell. The chickens reacted to predator scents (tiger and hunting dog droppings), with more watchful behavior, but they were unfazed by elephant and antelope dung. That chickens will not mate with close relatives, even those they didn’t grow up with, suggests that they are able to sniff out hens that are their siblings.
 Chicken Behaviors and Senses, below, enjoying the sun. I have noticed with my hens is their acute memory………..if there is an opening in the garden fence and one discovers it, the others will follow  and enter the garden after the finder shows them. From then on that breach in the fence will be the first discovery the next day.


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Cabbage for lunch.


This is Marilyn. This afternoon a couple of additions to the hen house when two unwanted pullets are coming. There will be chaos for a few days.


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August 31, 2014 · 12:04 am

Sunday morning.

The two pullets left the safety of the hen-house this morning for the first time. Still timid even after living here for over 2 weeks, their caution soon disappeared with excited scratching and running. A snake soon stretched itself out nearby and after 2 hours they returned to the hen-house.
Marilyn and Oscar sharing a dust bath.

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In respect.

August 2006 160
Ms Cherry, aged 11 years old and foster mother to most of my remaining hens, has passed on into hen heaven. A rescue from Brunswick heads following being dumped by ignorant townies, Ms Cherry along with her sister Ms Scream, became the centre of the hen community here. Incredible mothers with their teaching of their broods to avoid waiting snakes, watch out for circling hawks and eagles and to hide from goannas.

This week also saw one of my best friends, a devoted children’s nurse, lose her beloved companion Paris. A regular visitor here I will miss his lovely little doggie smile and his absolute joy as he ran around the garden.

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Market Day over.

Good market, not too hot. Dry garden here with less than 2 mls of rain. Clouds gave me 2 days of pleasant gardening. Kale, cavolo nero,broccoli, silverbeet, first new potatoes, ginger and rhubarb all sold. Brought 2 cabbages home. All stalls are booked for the Christmas Fair on December 7th, from 9am to 2 pm. Variety with some interesting home cooking stalls. I have orders for 4 Christmas Cakes so a week of baking for me. I will bake ten, 4 at a time.
Jayne and Isabella in the garden here. Isabella loved the peas from the pod.

Germaine Greer was interviewed on the 7.30 report on ABC 1 by Quentin Dempster. (Extended interview on ABC on demand. ) “White Beech ” is her latest book in which she describes her work on her Lamington property. Regenerating degraded land and replanting it with local trees. Employs and pays well her hands on workers. ( Mulching machines too, lucky workers ) as they propagate in their nursery and plant out. She talked of fire and its history in Australia and how fragile the rain forest is to fire.

“White Beech ” is my Christmas gift to myself this year.

Germaine Greer flew down to Sydney for the interview in the Botanic Gardens. As the plane flew over the Burning Blue mountains where she saw the 300ks plus line of smoke, she noted she was the only one in the cabin who was looking down to witness it. I pads, entertainment were much more interesting.

Hens, free-range, sheds and cages back in the news. A bird flu has seen a free-range hen farm culled. Now the government wants all hens to be housed. If you run 10 000 hens on a hectare of land with-in weeks they will have only dust to live on. Immunity takes generations, not an instant. When essential nutrients are depleted, hens are vulnerable. .Hens provide us with protein, the healthier the hen the healthier is her egg and healthier for us who eat them. Hens need range with adequate greens and grit.Remembering they came from a forest originally. Hens are sentient creatures. Now some will want to shoot all birds who shit. And any hint of illness in these massive flocks, will see them culled. Appropriate space for each hen is the key.

Live cow trade, by plane to Kazakhstan, saw a number die en route. Come on Australia, get it right. I don’t think any live trade should occur. But if it does its got to be paramount for the animal. Eric Rolls, in a “Million Wild Acres ” tells how each of the first cows were shipped to Australia in sailing ships, virtually each had a carer along-side it during the voyage. They didn’t want any broken legs or under par animals to arrive to Botany Bay.


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Ms Cherry damaged her foot

damaged-foot-on-repairMs Cherry ( 9 years old) is one of my most cherished hens. A rescue from Brunswick where many hen keepers dump their unwanted roosters along with the odd hen.  Cherry came with her sister, Ms Scream, and both were soon laying a small green shelled egg and falling into brood mode as soon as the temp reached 28 degrees. Both were  the best of all Hen Mums to day old chicks and I have seen both, as mothers, showing week old free-ranging chickens what  a snake was and that they must avoid it. They also taught me their sounds for each of the many predators watching for a quick meal of a young chicken. Goannas, kookaburra, snakes, hawks, eagles and the odd feral dog. The free-ranging of hens has taught me a lot about the innate intelligence of hens.

Last week Cherry gashed her foot, just above her 3 toes. She could not walk for a couple of days. I bathed the gash and it was beginning to heal. But then the other hens, sensing and seeing her vulnerability,  attacked her last friday and reopened the wound. Now she is spending her days on the sofa on the verandah where I apply paw-paw salve and lavender oil. This morning she is beginning to limp on her foot so I am hoping the worst is over.

Keep up to date on what Monsanto is up to. If its already happening in the USA it will be happening here soon.


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Lunch time.

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The chook family.

Since Horatio the rooster died, the hens are not as happy. My hope that one of the heritage breeds  (who are now 3 months old)  would be male is beginning to recede. A rooster is a must for a happy hen-house. The only down-side is their crowing at 4 am in the morning.

http://soulsbyfarm.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/why-everyone-should-own-chickens/  A super site about a lot of small farming stuff.

Good news too, 2 young people want to come and see how a chemical-free regeneration property looks. They have both studied the various reports from other countries which identify the increasingly negative aspects of many commonly used herbicides in Australia. More young people, who are serious about moving out-side of the herd mentality, in blindly accepting the spin of governments, chemical companies and Monsanto, the better for the future of all life on the planet.

Sunset, 23 February 2012.


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