Because the laying hens are getting to an age where they can start going outside, I've been forced to reconsider the Meat King's access to the outside.
Behold, the meaties leaving their coop.
While they were at play in the big yard, I used the chainsaw to punch a hole in the west wall of their coop. I fixed it up with a nice guillotine-style door, moved the ramp from the stairs to the new door and gave the door a few test drives before letting loose the fowl.
I lured the birds back into their coop with false promises of grain. When they see me come into the run, they literally flock to me. I'll twirl their food bucket to spin the last dregs of mash to the edge of the bowl and stand back. They will run over one another to get to their food bucket. If I do this in their coop, they'll all come at a chicken trot - up the stairs and ramp.
With all of them in the coop, I gave a bit of food reward and opened the new door. You could have heard a pin drop.
Maybe even two or three.
I could almost hear the machinations in their t-i-n-y brains slowly grind into motion.
"Baaaaawk, bawk, bawkbawkbaaaaaaaaawk," Speedy said hesitantly as she carefully moved towards freedom. She's always the first to do anything, which is one reason why she's going to be kept. A relatively
Great! They'd made the mental leap from ramp in main doorway to ramp in new chicken doorway!
I gave them some vegetable trimmings after supper and they were all bawking. scratching and meditating contentedly in their new digs. Because it was time for everyone to bed down for the night, I gave the food bucket a swish, put my safety glasses on and waited for the riot to begin.
Speedy, as usual, came trotting in to receive her nightly ration. I shook the bucket again and stood back.
Again I waited. Speedy was super happy to have the entire kilo of food to herself and pecked excitedly.
I peeked out the door.
Thirteen pairs of eyes hungrily watched my every move. I could see a couple of the chickens calculating the jump from ground, past ramp and into doorway, but no one moved. Not one feather, not one eyelid. They were all, ALL, squished under the ramp, under the door. Packed together like wee hungry sardines. As if they had been teleported from inside the coop to the new run, not one was able to negotiate the ramp.
This is a problem because earlier in the day I did not install a gate for humans in the four foot fence which prevents chickens from wandering off into the wild beyond. There is no way for me to get into the chicken run.
I called them again.
I shook the food near the doorway.
I thew a few bits of food onto the ramp.
I stuck my head through the chicken door and cooed softly.
Nothin' but a few blinky stares.
I sighed, got the ladder, placed it over the fence and attempted a descent into the chicken abyss. Ever notice that ladders only have rungs on one side? Yeah, well they do. Why, you ask? Probably so someone can't use it to get in and out of their chickeny Alcatraz, that's why.
As I jumped from the third-most top rung on the eight foot ladder and into the run, I contemplated building a stile in case this happens again (and it will). But with my luck, the chickens will completely ignore the terrifying ramp and use the stile.
None the less, first thing on the to-do tomorrow is to build a gate, because you know this is going to happen again, and again, and again. And possibly two or three more times until they ALL figure it out.