On the wild side

Michelle re­calls the ban­tam cock­erel who led a semi-wild ex­is­tence

Your Chickens - - Egg-sposé -

As spring ar­rives, I know I can re­duce the amount of grain I give to the chick­ens. In­sects are more plen­ti­ful, and the chick­ens are rang­ing wider as they look for them. I some­times won­der if it’s pos­si­ble for a chicken to sur­vive with no grain at all, and then I re­mem­ber that of course it is. I know of one chicken that sur­vived like that for years.

Cochyn was a sit­ting ten­ant when we bought our house. He was a minute ban­tam cock­erel with el­e­gantly marked plumage who lived a com­pletely feral ex­is­tence in the field around the house. The pre­vi­ous owner had been un­able to catch him and had aban­doned him when he moved out. The house had been empty for two years and, in all that time, Cochyn had never been fed or shut in at night. He ate grass and in­sects and he roosted on a bro­ken en­gine on a shelf in the old sta­bles. Dur­ing the day he strut­ted around the yard as if he owned the place.

Cochyn was ap­palled when we moved in and dis­turbed his peace. The first time he saw Senrab, our dog, he launched a blis­ter­ing at­tack, all claws and beak and whirling black feath­ers. Cochyn was small even for a ban­tam but Senrab knew a be­serker when he saw one and promptly ran away. Af­ter that, hos­til­i­ties be­tween the two were lim­ited to in­tense star­ing com­pe­ti­tions where dog and chicken would slowly cir­cle one an­other on the lawn, eyes locked grimly to­gether.

Over time, we be­gan to gain Cochyn’s trust and he would eat grain if we put it down in the yard. We tried to catch him by putting grain down in a pen, but he ig­nored it un­til we put the grain back down in the yard. We never did catch him.

Af­ter a while, we bought him a cou­ple of ban­tam Buff Sus­sex for com­pany – he was ab­so­lutely de­lighted by this, but he would never share their ac­com­mo­da­tion. Ev­ery night when we put the two girls away, Cochyn would fly off to his rusty en­gine on the shelf, and roost alone, high out of reach. He never did sleep in the chicken shed, and re­mained al­most com­pletely wild.

My ad­vice would be – Don’t Try This At Home! Keep your chick­ens well fed...and, hope­fully, you will al­ways be able to catch them. NOTE: Michelle Dunn wrote this be­fore the cur­rent bird flu re­stric­tions were an­nounced. As we go to print, all do­mes­tic poul­try should be kept un­der cover. The or­der runs un­til Fe­buary 28.

Cochyn and his com­pan­ions

Cochyn roosted in the old sta­ble

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.