Back in March I went in search of hens. I opted to bypass the chick-raising stage and try to find some pullets that were a little closer to laying. After scouring my area, I finally located an Amish family about fifteen minutes away with pullets for sale. Asking price: $8. I thought, “What a bargain!” Seriously … that’s almost what a whole chicken costs out of the meat case at the grocery store!
So I bought six of them. I was quite impressed as I saw the young Amish woman dive into the mass of pullets and come up with four at one time … by the legs … two in each hand. Like I said. I was impressed. When I asked her the name of the variety, she replied that they are, “Brown Commons.” Which means, I think, they are basically “mutts,” a mixture of several breeds, produced for heavy egg production. (In the Amish world, if you fail to produce, you wind up sold or eaten … rapidly.) I helped her load six of the brown-read beauties into my borrowed rabbit cage, forked over the cash, and header for home.
After I released them into the coop and watched them for a while, I noticed that their beaks looked really funny. Indeed, their little mouths seemed to always be open and their tongues flicked out a lot. I suddenly realized that they were missing the hooks on their beaks!
Sadly, my little ladies have had their beaks clipped. This is a rather cruel procedure performed on chicks in a production setting. The idea is that they are rendered unable to peck, cause bleeding, then cannibalize a fellow chicken. But the side-effect is that they cannot bite anything, or even crack larger seeds. They basically eat by sticking a wet tongue to their target. It’s kind of sad. It leaves them defenseless. But they make due.
All the more reason for me to provide our ladies with a safe environment. Now they will get to live out all their days in the comfort of our luxury “Hendomenium.”