Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chickens love watermelon

Chickens love watermelon, with a passion. These were just our leftover rinds, with only a bit of red. Last year we bought an over-mushy melon by mistake, and they ate the whole thing: chicken heaven.

I had figured that the black and white chickens were Dominiques, but now I'm not so sure. Dominiques (or Domineckers, as they are called here) have a rose comb, and these don't appear to be headed in that direction. The female on the right as a lot of whitish feathers on her front, but the others don't. The feathers on the back of their necks seem to be changing from black-and-white to brown-and-white.

My husband says they're probably all just mutt chickens. The three remaining excess cockerels haven't made it to the stew pot yet. They're not fighting, or even crowing, so far, but it's just a matter of time. For now though, they are helping decrease the insect population in the yard. This little flock roams further afield than others we've had.

I hate the fact that after the cockerels are culled, we'll have one tiny flock of two chickens and another tiny flock of three. "Can't we all just get along" is not a sentiment that's shared by chickens, apparently. The older birds just won't have anything to do with the younger ones. They treat them as if they were another species entirely. I wonder, if one of the older ones dies... will the remaining one prefer to spend her time alone, or will she try to join the younger flock? I'm guessing the latter.

The one on the right is lowest in the pecking order. The other chickens chase her from the food at times. But I've taken a tip from some people and started offering bugs that I find in the garden to the chickens. This gal is the one who comes running the fastest, for her caterpillar treat. Now she runs to me, expecting bugs, every time she sees me. I'm tempted to buy mealworms to keep in my pocket, so I won't be such a continual disappointment to her.


LauraP said...

Chicken cliques - they bicker like junior high girls, don't they? Here I see it mainly with the hatchery chicks. Those hatched out here seem to get along nicely. No doubt they're all warned about me in the nest by their mamas and know to mind their manners or else.

el said...

Those girls could be barred rocks, or they might even be black sex links (red male, usually barred rock female) and there's where you'll see the different neck feathers, bigger combs.

At our house we have a like-it-or-lump-it policy with "just getting along." They all need to learn. I do think it's helpful that each batch of new birds is just that: a batch of at least 3 so they have their own clique. But two things do help with the Peace policy here: one is Happy Hour, wherein they're allowed to free-range from 6:00 til sundown, and two, a huge coop.

But yes, I have found that the older girls once they lose their clique just learn to pal up with everyone.

Our geese love watermelon even more than the chickens do as the peel is GONE just as soon as the red stuff!

Island Rider said...

Hmm. I always wondered why women were called Chicks! Now I know.

Floridacracker said...

Worms in your pocket?

Rurality said...

Laura, they really do! We never can seem to get any of them to brood here. We've had ONE chick hatched here... and it got gobbled up within a few days. That was during the time of unstoppable coyotes.

El, the males and females look fairly alike, in terms of coloring. Maybe it will get easier to tell when they're fully grown. Ours are free-range all the time, so it's easy for them to avoid each other. The younger ones wanted to hang with the older ones at first, but they wouldn't let them. Poor things. In the coop, each of the older gals has her spot (far apart!), and the younguns are all crowded together at one end. Crazy chickens. I think you are trying to trick me into getting geese!

IR, you might get bopped on the head for that!

FC, well, probably in some sort of container. :)

Pablo said...

If you have mealworms in your pocket will you say "Tell me I haven't been walking around like that all day"?

I remember feeding watermelon rinds to the chickens on my grandparents' Kentucky farm. Those were the good times! Thanx for bringing back the memory.

LauraHinNJ said...

I'm always surprised with the things my brother says he feeds to his chickens... he says they love raspberries, too!

Hugh said...

"Chickens love watermelon" is exactly the sort of post title that I cannot resist clicking on. Something about chickens...and watermelons. Both are intrinsically funny, and in combination make for a must see.

countrypeapie said...

It must be a good time of year for chickens around here -- ours enjoyed a feast of watermelon rind on the Fourth (after the seed-spittin' contest, of course).

troutbirder said...

Who would have thought - watermelon. I must say I absolutely loved your shots of those gorgeous dayslilies!

Rurality said...

Pablo, yeah, yeah! But only if I make a trip to town, and find them still in the pocket.

Laura, I wouldn't be surprised! They like cider vinegar too. :)

Hugh, you are so right, they are both hilarious. If I could watch them all day I think my blood pressure would be lower, too.

Meg, now I am picturing the chickens spitting watermelon seeds... ;)

Troutbirder, thanks! I think chickens would try anything red... at least once, anyway. They're attracted to the color!

Karmyn R said...

Our chickens go crazy for the watermelon too (in fact - any melon).

And whenever our chickens see my husband carrying the shovel, they run for him - thinking he is going to dig up worms!!!

From that picture - the one in the middle almost looks like our Barred Rock Hens.

Sally said...

Agreed-- any melon, and strawberries too. We spoil ours with cantaloupe once in a while.

I agree with El, like it or lump it. We have 3 roosters in a flock of 20, and they scuffle only occasionally. The pecking order eventually keeps conflict down-- but having a large run and coop helps. All the neighbors "say" they like the crowing... no complaints in 13 years now.

But aren't they wonderful entertainment! Thanks for a great post.

Maktaaq said...

More chicken drama, please! This is fascinating stuff.

Do the male chickens get worse as they age? Is there any hope for them to avoid the stewpot?

Anonymous said...

They look like Barred Rocks to me. I've had a half dozen, they are good eggers, laying nice brown eggs and, I'm told, they serve up nicely when roasted.

Jan G. Rogers
Havana, FL

Anonymous said...

Chicken junior high!

Cookie Jill said...

Who doesn't love watermelon? ;-)

My friend's 100 lb tortoise loves the color red and will "run" to try to eat anything in that color palate. (Don't have toenails painted red wearing flipflops in her yard)

Her favorite though...strawberries.

Kimberlee said...

I really like that black/white with red comb color combination. I don't know enough about chickens to identify or classify, but in spite of being spurred by a rooster once (very painful), I still think they are beautiful and completely under-rated. :)