The progression of a chicken tractor

Of our 14 layers in our chicken tractor, we’re getting 11 eggs/day during the warmer weeks and 7 eggs/day during the colder weather. Given that our springtime weather fluctuates from 60 degree days for a week down to snow flurries the next, these birds are likely confused a bit.

But given that our family’s daily intake for eggs is only 6 eggs/day, my son has already started his first official business selling the excess eggs to neighbors, $4/dozen. Not bad for organic eggs delivered to your door by a cute kid.

But all is not well the the Great Chicken Tractor. These birds have taken the idea of a pecking order to Olympic heights. One bird is not only clearly the Big Layer, she’s also the Big Bitch. the vengeance with which she pursues the lowest 50 percentile on the pecking order is amazing.

In fact, it’s likely to get her killed. If she keeps this up and one of the lower order birds gets pecked to death, the Big Bitch is going on our dinner table the next night. 75% of our birds have completely bald butts and throat areas. Significantly more feather loss than what molting might account for. And that’s how I ended up with purple hands for a week.

I found a product from England that both heals and leaves a bad-tasting film on the chickens’ skin/feathers. The birds are now running around with purple butts – which is hilarious – but I failed to read the instructions that the stuff seriously stains. Explaining my hands to the folks at the dojo was a bit embarrassing. I finally just settled on, “I was painting my chickens purple, of course.” when asked about it. Got some funny looks, to be sure.

Any other thoughts on excessive pecking behavior? Shoot me an email or add a comment. Thus far we’ve explored diet, space, weather, and stress. I’ve settled on stress, since we find coyote scat right next to the coop on a regular basis.