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So we embarked on a new adventure...chicken keeping. We brought home 2 California Tans, 2 ISA Browns, and 2 Rhode Island Red chicks about 6 weeks ago and introduced our poor dog to them. It went better than expected. He was interested and really loves to watch them, but he quickly learned what was and was not acceptable (you know, like climbing into their brooder, to just LOOK at them...ahem, sure Ralphie.)

The chicks are now out in their grow coop while we finish building their big one, so Ralphie can get a little closer. After the excitement of getting to see the chicks so well wore off and a week had passed, I let Ralphie meet the chickens face to face. They were big enough that his usual greeting of "Poke it With my Snoot" would not harm them. So I let him get close...and it did not go well. For Ralphie. He got pecked right in the eye. Ugh. And here I thought the dog was the biggest threat. He turned around and noped out of there. 馃槀 His eye is fine, by the way.

So now I have a herding dog I was going to try to teach to herd chickens afraid of chickens! If he cannot see a physical barrier between himself and the chickens, he will not get within pecking distance. It is not complete and total fear...but it's a healthy respect. Although I do fear the day when I look up and see a flock of chickens chasing my dog across the yard...so there's that.

Please see below for a poor photo of my husband teasing the chickens with Ralphie looking on in complete horror. The chickens have started to make a borking sound, which Ralphie also finds concerning.

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And here is another photo of Ralphie watching the chickens. This was take about a week before they pecked him in the face. They were much smaller then.

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So far so good. I was expecting at least one casualty by now, but I guess I'm better at avoiding disaster than I thought. We plan on free ranging the chickens most of the time, so Ralphie's daily "patrols" (he moseys around and pees on things) of the property seem to help keep predators at bay, at the very least if the Chicken Herder job doesn't come to fruition!
 

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Well, Ralphie is completely uninterested in herding chickens. So, I'm scrapping my Chicken Herder Dog dreams. Meal worms are more effective for bringing them to the coop anyway. He likes to watch them disapprovingly. The chickens like to sneak up behind him and scare him. Ralphie retaliates by peeing in their water...I soon switched to poultry nipple drinkers to prevent this.

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In the above photo you can see Edith the California White and Cinnamon (or possibly Roll, I can't tell them apart) the ISA Brown playing tricks on poor Ralphie. They snuck behind him and made chicken noises, which Ralphie thought was rude.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ha, I was not expecting him to be an all out chicken murderer, but I was also not expecting him to have such a healthy respect and outright disapproval, lol! Sometimes you can see the disgust on his face when he as to walk through the flock of chickens to get to wherever it is he wants to go.

I have also learned that although chickens are flock animals...they don't go where you expect them to go. I think this is slightly disconcerting for a dog that generally likes to control movement.
 

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Ugh, my poor dog. I make him endure such terrible things. Here you can see him suffering through the chickens blocking his view of the yard. I was in the other room and heard him whining, so I thought maybe he had to go outside. This is what I see.

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This is just terrible. His disgust is apparent. Also, they're eating my flowers...

And here is a photo of the main abuser, Edith, who likes to follow Ralphie around and will pick leaves from his tail.

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Of note, Edith is sleeping on one side the tree...and Ralphie was laying on the other watching the new 3 week old chicks.
 

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Well, we had our first predator attack today. Fox, most likely. It took one adult chicken (Edith, the one pictured above, the top hen who I imagine was taking the place of a rooster and defending the flock) and three of my teenagers. I'm actually fairly surprised we've gone 6 months without any sort of accident of that manner.

Although Ralphie is a pathetic chicken herder, he was effective at recovering remains. Foxes tend to kill more than they can eat and then bury what they can't to keep for later. I'm assuming this fox is either very young or weak, as Ralphie successfully sniffed out my lost chickens less than 40 feet from the main attack site and fairly close to our house. I wouldn't have been able to find them without Ralphie. He almost seemed sad as we uncovered each one, but that also might have been because I didn't let him chew on them...

One teenager and five adults remain, all unharmed, just a tad shocked, I imagine. They followed Ralphie and I through the trees as we cleaned up, which was a little morbid. So, now I have experienced my first loss of livestock. Welcome to country life!
 

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We put the garden to sleep today, and the whole crew was out to help. I felt ever so supported with cats winding around my ankles, a dog following be around and begging for treats, and a flock of chickens who had no remorse standing exactly in the spot I needed to throw mulch and clucking.

Plant Dog Vertebrate Carnivore Dog breed


Ralphie has come to accept the chickens as a regular part of his life and isn't quite so disapproving any longer. He enjoys sniffing their fluffy butts for some reason, and then following them around and sniffing at whatever they're pecking at (grasshoppers, which are terrifying). Here you can observe Ralphie waiting for a treat while the chickens search for morsels.

Vertebrate Dog Mammal Carnivore Whiskers


The cats are endlessly annoying as well, but Ralphie likes them more because he can sometimes convince them to play. The orange one (Butters) will chase him when she's feeling fresh, which caused Ralphie to zoomie today, and then a chicken got run over (the chicken is fine but perturbed). This is, thankfully, the closest Ralphie has come to injuring a chicken.

Plant Tree Land lot Grass Agriculture


Here is a photo of the entire flock cleaning up some crushed vegetables. Ralphie was off camera watching the red one in the back repeatedly bang her head into the unripe pumpkin, which made a curious hollow thunking sound. I suspect this is how that particular chicken lives her life, just making things make that noise, because she does this to my door, the walls of the barn, and a very old little building that produces a particularly loud and alarming thunking noise.

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And here we are on our lunch break, with the chickens napping on the back porch steps and Ralphie ignoring them. Notice how they take up the exact middle of the walkway so as not to miss out on anyone coming or going.

Tire Wheel Car Land vehicle Vehicle


And, bonus photo (!) Pudgy Princess the Calico Cat, who is the meanest cute creature I have ever met. She will attack your hand if you don't pet her enough, is responsible for most of the scratches on my hands and knees, SCREAMS when the food bowl is empty, and teases the dog relentlessly. You can see her here after successfully sitting and doing nothing but refusing to move from this seat while the dog stood there and wagged his tail wanting to climb up with her. He, of course, will not run over this particular cat so had to retreat in disgrace. I did not get a picture of this interaction because my hands were full of dirt, unfortunately.
 

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It's amazing at the individual personalities animals have.

Sounds like Ralphie has his paws full with this group.
 
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Sounds to me as if Ralphie is a fine and intelligent dog. Also sounds to me as if you have a nice little place there. I have had chickens, and it is really fun; I just love chickens. Wish I can have them again some day. Always better to have a dog who respects them, though, so you are lucky all around. (as are the animals).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sounds to me as if Ralphie is a fine and intelligent dog. Also sounds to me as if you have a nice little place there. I have had chickens, and it is really fun; I just love chickens. Wish I can have them again some day. Always better to have a dog who respects them, though, so you are lucky all around. (as are the animals).
They are more fun than I thought they'd be, and very low maintenance. Backyard chicken keeping has become quite popular these days, so you don't need to have a large plot of land to keep them!
 

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I had a nice little chicken move into the cat tree on my front porch years ago. She spent an entire summer there. Unfortunately, I cam home from work one day to find her feathers all over the porch. I still miss her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I had a nice little chicken move into the cat tree on my front porch years ago. She spent an entire summer there. Unfortunately, I cam home from work one day to find her feathers all over the porch. I still miss her.
It's always so disappointing to lose them. I can't say I consider them pets in the sense I consider my dog a pet, but I was disappointed when I lost a few of mine to a fox!
 

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Chickens are high on my list when we own a house with a yard! My in-laws have a flock. One of their most recent hens was supposed to be 'ours' (they wanted a cream legbar rooster after losing their last boy, and the seller offered a couple hens alongside him at a discount), but my FiL got attached, so I'm guessing at best we'll have to hatch some of their eggs, haha.

Your setup looks lovely, and I'm sure the girls enjoyed themselves 'helping' to turn over the mulch you put down!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Chickens are high on my list when we own a house with a yard! My in-laws have a flock. One of their most recent hens was supposed to be 'ours' (they wanted a cream legbar rooster after losing their last boy, and the seller offered a couple hens alongside him at a discount), but my FiL got attached, so I'm guessing at best we'll have to hatch some of their eggs, haha.

Your setup looks lovely, and I'm sure the girls enjoyed themselves 'helping' to turn over the mulch you put down!
Thank you, they are sometimes helpful! Though I don't recommend them if you want pretty flower gardens, ha! They say chickens are "gateway" livestock and pretty soon you'll have a goat!
 

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Have you ever given a chicken a bath? Ralphie and I have. One of my chickens developed quite a messy butt, and the mess froze to the poor thing's feathers. I had to bring her inside and give her a bath in the laundry sink. Ralphie was horrified, as never before has one of the chickens been allowed into his domain.

White Green Blue Textile Collar


Positively disgusted. Wouldn't you know, though, chickens enjoy baths? More than the dog does, that's for sure.

Plumbing fixture Tap Sink Liquid Fluid


She happily sat and soaked in this bucket for a good 20 minutes so the mess fell right off, and then I just held her like a potato under the tap and rinsed her off. Her name is Little Bit but also sometimes a curse word because I find her in high, weird places more often than I expected.

Because it is cold out, I blow dried her. I thought this would for sure be a disaster (why I proceeded to do it, I do not know). There were no casualties, luckily. I tried to upload a video to prove that I did it and also it's hilarious but it's not working at the moment so I'll figure it out later.

Here is a photo of the chickens one of the last times they agreed to go outside. You can see I had to throw hay on the ground to get them to step on the snow. I believe this was late October.

Snow Plant Fence Branch Wood


It has been very cold and very snowy here lately, neither of which the chickens nor Ralphie like. Ralphie enjoys accompanying me into the coop now because he doesn't want to sit outside and sniffing every chicken to ensure it is, in fact, alive. The chickens vehemently refuse to step outside. They haven't been outside in like 3 months even though they have full access to the outdoors (except on the very, very cold hurts to breathe days, then I lock them in).

Oh, and the ladies received a rooster. A lady my MIL knows has a flock in town and isn't allowed a rooster, so we somehow ended up with it. The rooster's name is Kyle and he is supposed to protect the hens, but so far he just runs away if you look at him sideways. He also grabs the loose dish of oyster shells and flings it across the coop for some reason. He's about 3 feet tall and Ralphie thinks he's great, mostly because he can kind of herd this one, mostly into my face.
 

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Poor Ralphie. Having to deal with invaders like that.

There was a tv show (maybe Nature) that had an episode where a woman showed how she gives her chickens baths. She showed how to clean the feathers and everything. She blow dried them too and they seemed to really enjoy it.

I'll try to remember what the show was and link it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Huh, interesting. Who would have thought miniature modern dinosaurs would like spa days? I wish Ralphie enjoyed spa days half as much as this chicken, who is is actually the flightiest in my flock!
 

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I guess in hindsight it makes sense. Birds have to keep their feathers clean to keep them functional. In the wild, they sit in the rain and then preen themselves to remove dirt and grime. They actively search out puddles to wash in. Dogs and cats don't use water to clean their fur, so getting a bath is contrary to their instinct.
 
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Well, here we go again. With the arrival of the muddy spring melt comes a new batch of baby chicks! I got ten. Somehow, I practiced some self control. I could have fit five more in the box.

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This time I have 2 Speckled Sussex, 1 Sapphire Gem, 2 Midnight Majesty Marans, 2 Black Laced Wyandottes, 1 Buff Orpington, and 2 Prairie Bluebell Eggers. Several of them already have curse words for names, and one looks at me like she's about to beat me up.

Ralphie has done this three times, now, so baby chicks aren't quite so novel anymore...but he still gets pretty excited. He even tried to shove one up his nostril while I was cleaning a bit of pasty butt from tis feathers.

Small animal food Animal feed Pet supply Carnivore Felidae


This will last about 3 more weeks, at which point Ralphie will realize they're chickens, not snacks, and disapprove of them entirely.

The adult chickens are much happier now that much of the snow has melted and they can forage outside. They have commandeered my flower gardens as their dust baths and flung all the mulch out onto the lawn. Kyle the rooster learned how to run like a proper chicken.

And here is one more photo of baby chicks.

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