I recently took into my possession a pair of bantam hens, from Edible Gardens, adding to my flock of four. My brother and I were warned about their voracious appetites, but we were still surprised as we had not seen anything quite like it, they are indeed very industrious when it comes to eating, always finishing whatever is in their food dish.
Although they are larger than the other two hens, they sit at the bottom of the pecking order. The one with the strange hair-do is the “bottom” bird, which you can probably tell. Fortunately, we already have separate housing for them, making it a stress-free situation for the new birds. They sleep with our other rooster, who doesn’t get along with his father. At any one time, one rooster is caged in a 2m x 2m coop, as can be seen in the photo above.
The girls can be a bit naughty, sometimes I find them perching on furniture in the undercover area of our backyard, or digging up a garden bed, but overall they are so lovely and friendly, and a joy to watch in the garden.
A usual day looks like this – the two hens will engage in a hot sand bath…
Only to be disrupted by Brownie, the “top” bird. She does this with food too, hijacking their food more often than not.
Brownie usurps their spot and preens herself as her mate, Whitey, looks on. He has also been quite hostile to the new hens, chasing them away when he’s eating, which is very out of character. However, his son, Ruffy, is quite taken with them, and prefers their company over that of his sister, Pepper, and mother, Brownie. Pepper is currently out of action, as she is in a broody mood, preferring to sit quietly in a daze, under a stool in the backyard. She gets like that every other month.
The new birds, who don’t yet have names because my b
rother and I can’t agree on names for them, enjoy eating oats, so we have included it in all the chickens’ diets.
Typically, this is what their diet includes – red rice mixed with bird seed, corn, oats, and crushed seashells for calcium. They occasionally eat worms, insects, and receive fruit offerings like coconut flesh, apples and rambutans. What I need to get for them next time I return from Australia is food-grade seaweed extract and diatomaceous earth, and maybe a pecking block, for those boring days cooped indoors.
When fed well, the hens give us eggs daily. Because they are small birds, their eggs are half the size of conventional laying hens, which are pretty cute. They have created a cosy nest in the coop, which is their preferred laying spot, and if they are not able to lay here, they will lay in the flower pot outside their coop.
I love chickens and I hope to one day see a chicken appreciation club in Singapore… I might start one if I have extra time on my hands!