Peeps in Trouble

You will remember that Peeps is our third rooster. Third as in pecking order third. He’s a great bird, but life has become cruel in the chicken yard and he’s hiding more and more in the chicken coop. Something is wrong. Peeps is in trouble.

I noticed he was starting to languish. I counted on my fingers. How old was Peeps? I think at least 6, which is old for a chicken. Was he dying of old age or was he ill? He let me pick him up, which was a bad sign all unto itself. He felt light and bony. I brought him into the house and placed him in front of the wood stove. Maybe a night in the house would do him good.

Crammed into the chick cage, Peeps endured the cat looking at him eye to eye. His long tail had to be held down to close the door to the cage. The bird stood and looked at me as I filled a bowl with grain and another with water. It was a vacant stare. Was life really worth this. A cat on the outside and he on the inside?

The next day he ate a little food, but mostly slept with his head under his wing. It didn’t look good. He ate more and then, all of a sudden, he was ravenous. Peeps was beginning to look too big for the cage and I decided he was. I let him out on the lawn with the peacock. It was time for roosting and a return to the cage. We couldn’t find him. Had he wandered off to die. Just great!

As we walked back in through the mud room where the door had been left ajar, Peeps was crouched near the front door. Time to come in. One more night in the safety of the house. Even with a cat at eye level.

The next morning he ate a breakfast of corn and returned to the chicken yard. I think the problem all along was starvation. In a yard full of chickens, Peeps had not held his own when it came to feeding time. He now gets an extra handful when I catch him on the outskirts. However, he had devised his own plan for eating. When I take the top off the feed bin and scoop out a bucket to scatter to the hens, he will jump into the can and eat his fill until I return and shoo him out. If it works for him, it works for me. Heck, this winter he might even be able to take care of the wayward mouse or two that inevitably finds its way into the bin and tries to run up my arm as I dip for the grain. If ever I have wanted to yell “Eeek”, it would be then.

Photos: (top) Peeps squished into the chick cage for a night or two; (bottom) all better and looking the pretty boy in the sunlight.

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010 Scottie Jones

2 Comments

  1. Reply
    Zev 27 January, 2011

    I would have thought that even chickens at the lower end of the pecking order would be able to scratch up enough of the leftover grains after the others had passed through. I guess that’s not always the case. Has he been doing well with an extra handful given directly to him?

  2. Reply
    Animal escapades 27 January, 2011

    Actually, Peeps passed away this fall. He was old for a chicken (7 years) and I believe he was failing even as I brought him inside for a respite. He died peacefully and is buried next to our horse, Chaco.

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