We started off by putting them in with the rest of the chooks, but despite our precautions, they found themselves at the rough end of the pineapple, especially from the Muscovy duck. So, Action Man got himself in gear and finished off the chicken tractor that had been languishing in the shed since last year, and they are now happily ensconced there (except when they are out and about flinging mulch around).
The downside of this arrangement is that these chooks live out the back, while the "old" chooks live closer to the house, and are within sight of the chickens. The result is I'm not getting to "know" these chickens very well at all.
These chickens are doing the bulk of the egg-laying work around here now. In the "old" shed, we have three layers and a bantam, who are at least four years old, who probably lay 3-4 eggs between them a week.
My grandmother kept chickens all her life, here and in Italy, and she was pretty unsentimental about old birds - they made way for young chickens via the stockpot. But because I feel that our old girls are as much pets as layers, I'm totally against this idea. And so, we have an old chickens home, and have to bring in young birds to take up the slack. And I guess we'll have to get some more when these new birds become aged. They never talk about this dilemma is books about chicken keeping!
In other chooky news...this afternoon I was listening to an interview with a scientist who had won a Eureka Science Award for her work on chicken communication. Her thesis is that the chicken is by no means dumb, and has a complicated means of communicating to each other about their environment. I'm thinking, well, yes...that's kind of obvious to anyone who has spent any time around chooks. Maybe I should have written that thesis!