After Frodo’s difficult week last week, things are starting to look up for our young rooster. 

Our plan is to move Frodo out to the orchard with the hens

Last weekend, after a rather traumatizing experience with Siegfried in the coop, we started to introduce Frodo to our older orchard hens.  Our concern initially was that Ginger, our head hen, was used to being Queen of her roost, and may not tolerate a young upstart rooster in her midst.

Ginger is in charge of the orchard coop

We started out with Frodo in the temporary pen, and turned the girls out loose in the orchard.  To encourage them to investigate Frodo, we wedged some watermelon under the edge bottom edge of the pen.  Ginger thinks with her stomach, she always has, and sure enough she found the melon…and Frodo.  For a brief second we thought it was going to be another big Siegfried-sized fight.  Ginger lunged at the pen with her feet and her beak, and Frodo lunged toward Ginger…with feathers flying.  We blinked…and it was over.  That was it. After a brief 10 second squabble, they’ve been fine together ever since.

Was it really going to be that easy?  No, of course not, they’re chickens, it’s never that simple!

This is Babs, and she's not sold on the idea of Frodo...yet

We’d hoped the other girls would follow Ginger’s lead, but it turns out, the number two hen, Babs, and number three, Sweet Pea, weren’t so easily convinced that Frodo would make such a good room mate.  We let them adjust to each other for a day, then tried turning Frodo and girls all out loose together.  This worked, except it was too easy for Frodo to wander off and avoid the ladies altogether…especially after not-so-Sweet Pea ripped out a mouthful of Frodo’s chest feathers when she introduced herself to him.

The portable pen forces the chickens to work out their differences, rather than avoid each other

On Wednesday we put Ginger and Frodo in the portable pen along side the other girls in the ark.  This worked out fine, in that there was no fighting, but Ginger wasn’t the problem, we needed to convince the other two to accept Frodo.

Scratch grain hidden under straw keeps the hens distracted

On Thursday, we gradually worked up to having all the girls in the temporary pen with Frodo, and this sent Frodo into a minor state of panic.  It seems he’s a little intimidated by the hens, which is understandable, as they’re twice his size, and he still hasn’t really figured out that he’s going to be a 12 pound rooster some day.  Although he challenged Ginger the first time they met, he would only run from the other two.  With a little bribery in the form of fresh fruits, veggies, and scratch grains, it became apparent the girls really didn’t seem to mind being in the pen with Frodo.  He on the other hand was a little twitchy, and just wouldn’t settle down.  Any time Babs or Sweet Pea would look in his direction, he’d get antsy, and start zipping around, which of course would get the girls attention, and then they’d feel obligated to chase him. 

Frodo has had a rough start, and is still somewhat unsure as to where he fits in

However, they’re not fighting, so compared to last week, that’s a huge step in the right direction.  Now, if we can just get Frodo to relax and accept the girls, this should work out.  He spent the afternoon today in the pen with the girls again, and he’s nervous at first, but slowly starting to unwind.  It’s just going to take a little time.

We’ll continue to take it slow, and hopefully, if all goes well, we’ll be able to leave Frodo with the girls full-time very soon…