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On the behaviour of hens

If you were walking somewhere long distance (a several day walk), and for some reason, you needed to take a hen with you, how long do you think you would be able to carry the hen before it would become pecky and wriggly and generally not keen on being carried?  How long do you think it would need to spend pecking and doing hen things before you could reasonably pick it up and carry it some more?

Would you stop and make a cage for your hen (you cannot buy a cage, civilisation has collapsed), or would it be easier to carry her on her own?  For that matter, could the hen walk, or would she need carrying?

I know nothing about hens, and although I am tempted, obtaining hens as a form of research seems a Step Too Far. 

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( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
wellinghall
1st May, 2016 08:40 (UTC)
How long could I carry a hen, just on its own without any cage etc? A few minutes.

How long would it need to spend pecking etc? A few minutes. But you would have to factor in extra time - possibly a lot of extra time - to pick it up again.

I would make a cage. Or, better, a bag. If my father needs to carry a (few) bird(s) any distance, he puts it (them) in a sack.

The hen could walk (but see above comment about picking it up). Goose drovers would traditionally tar the feet of their geese, then walk them to market.

Another problem about carrying a hen on its own - you will get crapped on.
bunn
1st May, 2016 08:45 (UTC)
I don't think you have anything to make a bag from, unfortunately - civilisation has collapsed, and you only have what you are wearing. You could make a basket, that probably would be the easiest option.
wellinghall
1st May, 2016 08:48 (UTC)
A basket with a lid would be good.

And you don't have to obtain hens in the name of research. You can obtain them in the name of eggs.
bunn
1st May, 2016 10:38 (UTC)
Thank you!

I could, but I'd be a bit concerned that the many predators that share our house might consider them a free lunch. It would need a lot of supervising to start off with!
wellinghall
1st May, 2016 11:57 (UTC)
I do understand. I think we coped through a variety of factors; having hens first; having two hens, and only one cat; and Molly being a wimp.
bunn
1st May, 2016 17:56 (UTC)
Our cats were mostly OK with the bunnies, but ISTR we didn't have the Bungles then. But it may be that bunnies are a bit more resiliant than chickens.
adaese
2nd May, 2016 05:58 (UTC)
Also Molly came from a household with Large! Ferocious! chickens, and had known since kittenhood to treat hens with respect.
wosny
1st May, 2016 14:52 (UTC)
Hens are very adaptable...and variable!
I think the person in question would need to have a good relationship with the hen before the journey, and maybe you could look into a hood, of the sort that falconers use. I am sure that in the dark a hen would be far easier to transport, and the hood could be removed at times when the transporter was resting so that the hen could move and peck/eat. I am afraid that pooing would probably not be controlled in this way, so carrying it on an arm would be the wisest.
good luck for the journey.
(Guinny is totally cool with birds after her early experiences, so it is possible for your voyageur, if necessary, to be accompanied by a sight hound.)
bunn
1st May, 2016 17:54 (UTC)
The hood idea sounds a bit fiddly, but the general idea of darkness might be helpful. Perhaps the traveller could sacrifice a corner of her cloak to craft a small chicken-hood.

Brythen is good with birds too, although I would not trust Rosie with them. Tbh, not trusting Rosie is usually a good principle. :-D

What was Guinny's early experience? Somehow, I am tempted to imagine her orphaned and raised by a family of chickens... :-D

Edited at 2016-05-01 17:56 (UTC)
wosny
2nd May, 2016 07:49 (UTC)
Sadly no such tale to tell!
Oh, I have just remembered that it is a weird thing, but you can carry chickens upside down by their feet, and they go all limp. And they are surprisingly heavy. I don't know how long you could manage to carry them like that, but it is always useful if your heroine needs silence from her bird.
houseboatonstyx
2nd May, 2016 10:32 (UTC)
I suspect it would be unhealthy for the bird -- lack of circulation to and from the brain, perhaps.
bunn
2nd May, 2016 19:05 (UTC)
I suspect this to be a useful fact if she should need to steal a hen, but possibly less so for long distance transport of a hen that she wishes to remain in prime egg-producing condition :-D
ladyofastolat
1st May, 2016 17:31 (UTC)
I know nothing about hens.

I am, though, wondering if there's a recognised scale of the collapsiness of a civilisation:

1. The Polite Sandwich is no longer left untouched, but is grabbed voraciously by uncouth rogues
2. People stop observing proper queue etiquette
3. Gas, water and electricity goes off
4. The BBC stops broadcasting
5. You can't buy a hen cage, not anywhere, not for love not money. OMG, WE'RE DOOMED!

:-D
bunn
1st May, 2016 17:49 (UTC)
I am just this minute re-reading, or re-skimming, anyway, Bryan Ward-Perkin's 'The fall of Rome and the end of civilisation' and it seems to think that the fall of civilisation goes EXACTLY LIKE THAT only there is more about ceramics, roof tiles and the tragic reduction in graffiti telling the world how good your prostitute was.

Also, less electricity.

But otherwise, exactly that.
mme_n_b
1st May, 2016 19:35 (UTC)
I would tie it up in one of my skirts before starting out.
bunn
2nd May, 2016 19:06 (UTC)
Cunning. Not sure she has that much spare fabric though.
mme_n_b
2nd May, 2016 19:57 (UTC)
Is her skirt wide enough to walk in and longer than knee-length? She can cut off a third or so and use for a chicken. If not she should cut off a thin strip of material to tie up the chicken's wings and another for the beak, then stick the thing into her top. Not only will she still be dressed modestly, but she'd have an additional double rape defense - any potential rapist not turned off by poop-stained blouse may be distracted by having a chicken thrown in his face.
topum
2nd May, 2016 01:29 (UTC)
We are surrounded by chickens here in Moldova now. They just run freely wherever they want. They wake us up in the morning too. I need to ask our hosts if there is a Moldovan way to carry hens. Ducks, geese and turkeys are everywhere too. We have geese eggs for breakfast.
bunn
2nd May, 2016 19:19 (UTC)
I guess the geese and turkeys help to deter foxes!
topum
2nd May, 2016 19:23 (UTC)
Foxes still steal chickens here, but yeah I guess it is safer with geese and turkeys. Geese become quite aggressive if one comes too close and make a lot of noise too.
Our hosts had a hen taken by an eagle today.
bunn
2nd May, 2016 19:30 (UTC)
We have neighbours who keep geese for just that reason! Not the eagles though. That sounds like a more unusual kind of hen problem!
huinare
2nd May, 2016 13:54 (UTC)
From my brief experience tending chickens, I should think the hen would need to be exceptionally tame in order to be carried (or retrieved) for long without the aide of some kind of hood/container/etc.
bunn
2nd May, 2016 19:19 (UTC)
I think they are going to need a basket!
winniepoodle
3rd May, 2016 00:27 (UTC)
I have about 40 hens, lots of different breeds, some more wild than others. They all settle very quickly when tucked under my arm and carried around. Just need to press the wings to the side and hold them snugly, but not tightly. An occasional peck is not that noticeable. If you don't care about how the hen feels about things, it can be carried by the legs, upside down. Very docile in this position, but I can't imagine comfortable. Hens need to eat ALOT because of their high metabolism in egg production. I'm not sure how long this journey is going to be and how the hen will be fed.
anna_wing
3rd May, 2016 02:57 (UTC)
I have observed village chickens, which tend to be very free range, when not entirely feral, and I don't think that they are willing to carried at all. I should think that the easiest way to transport a hen would be a basket with a lid. In the collapse of civilisation, basket-making skills would once more become useful.

Edited at 2016-05-03 03:57 (UTC)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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