When in the winter all our chickens live together in a barn, they form families.
Roosters sing their songs, and hens get attracted by the sound. Hens choose the cock that they like. This is how a chicken family starts to get formed – one rooster and several hens. They stay close to each other during the day. At night, chickens from the same family sleep on perches next to each other.
We noticed that on our farm the hens of one breed usually stick together, and they choose a rooster from another breed.
Sometimes it happens that a rooster can chase a hen from another family, and even mate with her against her will. But this does not mean that this hen goes into that rooster family. The hen herself decides which family she belongs to.
By the spring the families are completely formed. When Edward-the-farmer moves chickens into summer coops, he ensures to keep the chickens from one family together at the same coop. Usually, it’s one rooster and 4-6 hens.
We try not to introduce a new hen into already formed family. Why so? Because hens do not like strangers, and will attack the new hen. Sometimes the rooster really likes ❤️ the new hen and he will protect her. But he cannot always protect her. Some hens are very persistent in their rejection of other hens, and continue to attack the new hen endlessly. Hostility and attacks in the family cause stress in all chickens living in the same coop. Just like people, right? ☺️ Under stress, hens cannot lay eggs.
Hens, as a rule, do not like stranger chicks . But some, especially old hens, who no longer lay eggs, accept foreign chicks and take care of them quite like their own mother-broody-hen. These hens can adopt even very small, 2-3 day old chicks. We call such hens “aunties” or “grandmothers” or even “golden” hens. Those are very-very rare.