The chickens are feeling trapped. Mother Nature dropped 8 inches of snow in their world. We shoveled out pathways beyond the coop and run. However, the girls still think we are holding them hostage with this white stuff called snow. The snow is too deep to go wandering across; one false move and they would surely sink in up to their bellies. Boredom has set in and no matter the distractions that I create, they never seem to last long enough. So, I did some research today and discovered the Flock Block which encourages "natural pecking".
The Flock Block is a hard 12 inch square that is "glued together" with molasses. It includes an assortment of seeds, oyster shells and grit. It is meant to be kept in a dry place, where the flock can pick at it over the course of the day. I thought that this would be a tasty distraction that might keep them busy for hours. My only concern was that the girls might replace their layer pellets with this block. After a quick peek at the label, my fears were alleviated when I discovered the block contains 9% protein.
I opened up the block, set it on an old cookie sheet and carried the entire 25 pound block out to the girls. Of course, as with everything new, they were terrified! I can always tell when they are frightened as they stand on the other side of the log in the run. Somehow having a log between them and the foreign object, just makes everything better. My daughter could not resist helping. There she squatted at the end of the run whispering words of encouragement to the girls.
Finally, Dottie Speckles took the lead. The girls slowly left the safety of the log and ventured closer to the block. Perhaps, the irresistible bait was the loose scratch that I had sprinkled on top of the block and on the ground near the cookie sheet.
Gradually each one mustered up the brave little chicken inside, and began to peck at the edges and loose pieces. It took about 10 minutes for the girls to realize that this was a tasty treat for them.
The cookie sheet allows me to easily remove the block in the late afternoon, as I am sure that mice would go crazy for this sweet treat. These days the sun has been setting around 4:45pm. So, the plan is to take in the block around 4:00 pm and let the girls tidy up their run prior to turning in for the night. It will be interesting to see how long this block lasts.
As I just went out to check on their progress, the corners of the block are now rounded. The big girls are in the run keeping busy, two of the Silkies are getting in on the action when the big girls are distracted and two Silkies, Fifi and Autumn, have decided to go broody. Apparently, for now, all appears to have returned to "normal".
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest