This afternoon I decided to try the girls together again. I suddenly had a brainwave and decided to use the chicken toy as a distraction. I put some sunflower hearts in it and put it on the patio area. While the three big girls were busy with the toy, I opened the bantys gate and let them out. They came out as the big girls rolled the toy into the garden area.
The bantys were intrigued by the toy and really wanted to join in. They would get close to the toy then one of the big girls would peck them away and they would run back into their side of the run. They crept out and ran back a few times. It went so much better with a distraction and the toy held the attention of the big girls for longer as they have to work to get the sunflower hearts out rather than just hoovering up some corn.
Once the toy was empty I decided to shut the bantys back in their side, put some more sunflower hearts in and let the bantys have a go. I have to say that I think these little girls are brighter than the big girls.
One example of this is that when they are in the big girls area and they get pecked at, no matter how far away from the gate they are, they quickly run back through the gate to safety. Yesterday during integration time, Dotty was in the little girls space while they were behind the bush. Dotty was enjoying scratching in their space and Pepper was on the other side of the wire. Pepper desperately wanted to join Dotty but couldn’t work out where the open gate was. She would keep going back and forth along the wire opposite Dotty when the open gate was only about a foot further up. It wasn’t until Dotty moved nearer to the gate that she suddenly found it again. Not the brightest of sparks, our top girl!
When we first gave the big girls the chicken toy, Bluebell our bottom girl, but our brightest, quickly worked out that pecking at it and rolling it released the sunflower hearts. Dotty cottoned on a little later. Pepper our top girl, but I sometimes think also our dimmest girl, took weeks to cotton on to it.
I put the chicken toy into the bantys side and joined them with my camera. They went straight to it and started pecking at it or moving it with their feet and got to the sunflower hearts straight away.
The bantys immediately come to investigate the toy
Checking it out
Having a peck at it
Soon getting at the sunflower hearts
Job done, how easy is this!
Throughout this entire process Bluebell and Pepper were pressed against the wire, desperate to get at the toy. Dotty was busy on the patio with a cabbage leaf and oblivious to the goings on!
This also showed who was top of the pecking order between the bantys and it was no surprise to me that it was Amber. The toy got stuck between the feed pot and the slab that the water stands on. Amber would use her foot to roll it out and every time Honey tried to join in, Amber pecked her away. This is the first time I have seen any pecking between these two and Amber repeatedly pecked Honey away from the sunflower hearts.
Once the toy was empty again I put a few more sunflower hearts in it (I only put a few in each time) and returned it to the other side of the wire and opened the gate again. This time Honey managed to get past the big girls while they were distracted and made it up to the patio area. At least the little girls are getting further into the entire area and with less pecks. Once the toy was empty again and the big girls tried to get a few pecks at the bantys, I decided that that was enough for now. They had had half an hour together without too much hassle so I felt it was a bit of progress.
My husband suggested perhaps little and often is the way to go and I think he is right, so I will continue like this. That was the least stressful so far and a distraction definitely helped.