Chickens at Play

A lot of people see chickens as being confined to a particular area and quietly pecking at the dirt for most of their lives. Meat chickens do have a certain lack of personality and do spend most of their time eating. However, laying hens are a completely different story. Depending on the breeds you get, you can see a wide range of interesting behaviors, some of which are quite funny.

There are still some snow hills in our yard. The other day I was looking out our kitchen window at one of them and there was a chicken at the top pecking into the top of the hill. She was obviously eating some of the ice in order to get a drink. However, it wasn’t long and another hen ran up the hill and knocked the first hen off. Now she was going after the ice. Soon, there was a general melee as different chickens proclaimed herself the queen of the hill. I was laughing so hard that I nearly dropped some dishes I was putting away. The hens looked so intent about their play and so funny at the same time.

A few days later I was out pruning our pear trees. Suddenly, one of the chickens (Daisy, an Americana) started clucking quite loudly—the sort of cluck that says, “Hey, I’ve done something really cool!” She jumped over the top of the run fence and waddled as quickly as she could to me, clucking intensely all the way. Then she curtsied. So, I petted her and told her was a good chicken she is, but the action didn’t satisfy. As I tried to go back to work she shrieked at me and curtsied again. So, I picked her up and took her back to the coop. She had laid a beautiful blue egg for me and wanted me to know just how beautiful it was. So, I accepted the egg and made a big deal over just how good a chicken she is, which seemed to satisfy her this time. Just why this particular egg was so special is beyond me.

Later in the same day, Violet, our Black Australorp, was making one of her usual speeches. She’s the queen of the coop and when she speaks, the other chickens listen. Just was she was saying on this particular occasion is beyond me. However, she was in fine form and rattled off quite a long discourse on something only other hens would care about. The other hens gathered around her and listened intently, murmuring to themselves in agreement with whatever it was that she was discussing.

There is seldom a day when our chickens don’t do something interesting and special. Even if they didn’t produce copious eggs, I’d keep them around just for the laughs they provide. I actually consider them an essential part of my health plan now. A laugh a day keeps the doctor at bay. If you do get laying hens, make sure you take time to enjoy their behaviors—you’ll be glad you did! Let me know about your interesting chicken stories at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.