Farm Farm

“Doesn’t Play Well with Others”

Right before I figured out that King Strut may be at the root of The Great Egg Mystery, in desperation to get my egg production back up I purchased 4 Red Star pullets from my local Agway. (I say local, but where I live the closest agricultural supply store is 30 miles away.)

Red Star hens are, I believe, a cross between a White Rock chicken and a Rhode Island Red chicken, both of whom are the gold standard in egg-laying capabilities in the chicken world. A “sex-link” chicken is one, which at the time of hatch, can be sexed by it’s color, as the female chicks are a completely different color than the male chicks. So, if you want only hens and no roosters, Red Star is a sex link and it will be easy to tell which is which.

Now most Agway stores offer “pullets” for sale. These are defined as “less than a year old”, but generally when  you get them from your Agway or other ag store they are around 20-24 weeks old. If they are not already laying eggs, they will be soon.

The one reason I do not like to get these pullets from a store and not raise them myself is that they always have their beaks clipped. This is standard operating procedure at any large poultry house, and I guess it is at whoever grows these birds for the ag stores as well. It was started back in the 1930’s as a preventative measure to combat cannibalism and feather pecking from birds that live in close confinement. I find not only does it look awful, but it’s just a barbaric thing to do to an animal. I have never had an issue with either of these things, but I realize I’m not a large factory-farming business. My hens live happy lives.

One of my new Red Star hens with a clipped beak.

Well, that was a very long explanation to the start of this story.

I brought these 4 girls home about about 9 days ago. I kept them in my old small brooder coop for the first few days so my ladies could get used to them through the fencing. (You should always introduce a new bird or birds slowly to an established flock.) When I did introduce them to the flock, all of my older laying hens seemed completely nonplussed by them. In fact, for the most part, they chose to ignore them.

I guess, being the low girls on the totem pole, they decided to show my adolescents who’s boss. I noticed something was up the first night they were out with the flock and I went to lock up the farm. All of my adolescents, who normally sleep in my old coop, were outside sleeping on the porch, and the 4 new ladies were inside. Every time one of the adolescents tried to go inside they would get chased back out by of of these new hens.

All of the adolescents have been chased out of the coop and are sleeping on the porch.

Let’s just say if I were giving out report cards right now, theirs would all be marked “Doesn’t play well with others.”

So while all hums along pretty calmly during the day here on the farm, come sunset everything falls apart. Every single night I have to go out and, one by one, carry the new ladies into the new chicken coop. I don’t think they’ve exactly been welcomed into the coop by my established flock with open wings, but they’re just being given the cold shoulder — not being picked on.

The four new ladies are there in the corner. They sleep on the floor rather than roost with the older chickens.

Then I have to go and round up all of the adolescents and convince them that it’s now safe to go into their home for bed.

The goats think they’re all being ridiculous.

And for the record, since King Strut was delivered back to the Agway my egg count has gone up dramatically. Over the last 5 days I’m back to getting 15-20 eggs a day!


  1. I guess the new chicks have to climb the social ladder. I never knew about beak clipping. I am glad that I always buy my eggs from a small farm where the hens run free. Love all your critters ~ they always make me smile!

    Susan and Bentley

  2. farm antics! love ’em!

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