It has been an upsetting few days here on the farm. The laying hens, Fabio, The Other Guy and even our sweetheart Taylor Swift have been brutally attacking one of their own flock. It has been relentless and painful to witness.
I’ve never been equipped to handle any type of violence. Even in sports I cannot watch a boxing match. The idea of pummeling someone senseless turns my stomach. Being witness to the cruelty in the chicken yard and coop has about done me in. Every morning it starts; the chickens force the White Orpington out of the nest box where she has hidden and lunge at her, pecking at her neck and ripping out her feathers on her back. She tries to run, but they follow in hot pursuit. They then chase her around the fenced yard until she manages to fly over the fence or until Steve or I rescue her. She remains outside the fence until the evening when Steve tucks her into a nest box to wait out the night.
Today was particularly gruesome. So bad, in fact, that both Steve and I bolted from our seats inside to run out to rescue the White Orpington. She was a bloody mess by the time Steve retrieved her and set her safely outside the fence. He hand fed her and went back inside while I kept an eye on her from the greenhouse.
To me, it is real life. It is bullying at its most primal level. And just like when I hear reports of heinous bullying among human beings, I try desperately to find a reason. I wondered if the flock senses she is ill? Do the others know that she is not laying eggs so therefore she should be ostracized? Is she really a first class bitch and deserves harsh treatment? I am certain it is something significant.
Steve reappeared after some time with news I really didn’t want to hear. Apparently he had gone in to research such behavior and found that this shit happens because the chickens are bored. One of the dominant chickens decides which one will be the target and they all join in. What!? Are you friggin kidding me!?
Yes, sadly I must resign myself to the fact that bullies are the same no matter the species. Sometimes reality bites.