Yesterday morning I put the run back to usual. I opened up the wire by the patio area and at the bottom end of the run. I put the little coup back on the patio as a third nest box and we took down the high perch.
I am leaving the extra feeding station by the shelter and the extra dish on the patio until the new girls are confident at using the usual feeding station on the patio without being chased away.
I decided to stay in the run before bedtime to see how it progressed. With hind sight I should have left the high perch up for one more night. As dusk approached the new girls were looking for their high perch.
The new girls have been settling before the main flock so they wanted to perch while the main flock were still pottering around. I could see that they wanted to fly up on to the dividing wire because their perch was no longer there.
I tried standing in front of it to block them. I hoped that if I could stop them perching then once the main flock were in I could guide them in too.
Instead Gold jumped to my shoulder. I took her to the chicken shed and put her on the perch. She came straight back out and jumped on me again. I had difficulty removing her from my back. Eventually she ended up on my head and I lifted her down.
I took up my position again and Storm jumped on to my arm. I also put her on a perch in the chicken shed but she too came straight back out.
I took some photos but I was guessing where to point the camera and they are rubbish but I thought that I would put them here anyway to give the gist of what was happening.
After this I decided that I would leave them to perch on the wire for now and when the rest of the girls were in and the pop hole had closed I would lift them down and put them in the chicken shed.
You can see Storm below them getting ready to join them.
I went indoors to put dinner in the oven and then returned. The pop hole was closed and I was surprised to find that Gold was now on the chicken shed roof.
I lifted her down and settled her on the side perch in the chicken shed. The main flock were all on the back perch. I then lifted Snowflake down and put her beside Gold. Then I lifted Storm down and added her to the side perch.
I waited a minute and then checked back in the chicken shed and all the girls were settled with the three new girls perched where I had put them. It will be so much better for them to be perched over night rather than in the little coup.
I was hoping that once the new girls come out of the chicken shed in the morning they would then know where to go at night. I am expecting it to take a few nights though.
I went out at seven o’clock this morning and whereas the pop hole is usually open at this time it was still closed as it was a really dull morning. I decided to take my camera and watch the girls come out.
Spot was the first to squeeze out as soon as the door started to lift. Flame was next and then Sugar followed by Spangle and then Salmon. Then there was a pause. I waited as I wanted the new girls to find their own way out as they would then be more likely to also be able to find their own way in.
After a minute Gold emerged followed by Storm and last as usual was Snowflake.
Snowflake was a blur so I skipped that photo. The girls went to the various food dishes and were all getting along fine so I was happy with that.
In the afternoon Spot was once more in the nest box and I again thought that she was finally going to get her first egg laid.
Later Spot was back out in the run and again there was no egg. This girl needs a lot of practice.
Tonight I stayed out with the girls at bedtime again. It actually went better than I thought it would. I could see that Gold really wanted to be with the main flock and she kept looking through the pop hole.
I put Gold in the chicken shed a couple of times but she was straight back out again. She then started looking as if she wanted to jump on me so I held out my arm for her. Gold would then jump on my arm and I would open the door of the chicken shed and persuade her from my arm to the perch.
Each time Gold would stay in a bit longer but eventually come out again. In the meantime Storm came to the chicken shed. I put Storm on the perch in the chicken shed and she too came out again.
However Storm was standing on the nest box so I picked her up and put her back on the perch in the chicken shed and she stayed there. I put Gold in once more and she too stayed there.
At this point Snowflake also came to the chicken shed. I tried to guide her through the pop hole but instead she went into the nest box next to the shed.
I decided to leave her there until the rest of the girls were in. Once the rest of the girls were in the pop hole closed. At this point I lifted Snowflake from the nest box and perched her next to Gold. Once again I checked a minute later and the girls were still perched with the main flock on the back perch and the new girls on the side perch.
I feel this is a real step forward and I am sure they will get the hang of it over the next couple of nights. It’s gone far better than I thought it would.