7 July 2012

The curious tale of the chicken and the cat

These brown shaver hens of ours lay well. We don't get three eggs every day in winter - often only one or two - but we did yesterday. Omelette for lunch! I've only bought 6 eggs this year.

We have three brown shavers and a huge, luxurious black Orpington. (The latter hasn't laid for months but I think she'll be back online in spring.) They share our 650m2 urban section with no problem at all and only take up a fraction of it.

Probably half the people who find out we have chickens say "I'd love to have chickens!" Many of them worry that their cat would bother the fowl. Oh, no, I say. The fowl will be in control.

This is a photo of a cat who has been thoroughly put in his place. He's very interested in their feathery bodies, and they make a clucky alarm call when they spot him stalking them. But as this photo reveals, the showdown has been had and the hens won. It culminated in an avian beak making a resounding clunk on a feline skull. Friends with chooks tell me they've had the same experience. Dogs don't seem to be a problem either.

Chickens, I think, were virtually made to co exist with humans in domestic situation. At least they've been bred to it for the last few thousand years. They eat lots of our food scraps and any stray cockroaches, slugs or snails that come their way. And, obviously, they give us eggs in return. They eat pellets that cost about $40 for 6 months' worth. They provide good fertiliser for the garden. Their noises are charming and they are extremely interesting! People love their chooks. Apparently it's even better with a rooster, but the crowing would be a problem in town.

This was their original habitat: they were jungle fowl, and they still love being under trees. Ours ran straight under our (laden) lime tree when I let them out:

This is the well-feathered rear end of the Orpington. I'm sure you'll see more of her soon - she's magnificent.

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