Chicken Run!? May 17, 2012

There was quite a response to Traci’s post on White Leghorns. This is a related story, which I meant to post weeks ago… (Yikes! Time flies.)

Smartypants making her escape over the run.

To say that this past New England fall and winter were atypical would be an understatement. Hurricane Irene blew through in late August and one month later we were hit by an early snow storm. Both storms knocked out power, brought down trees and limbs, and took down the netting on our covered run. I assumed that we were in for a cold winter and decided to hold off fixing the run covering until the spring. If I had only known that it would be 50 degrees in February, I might have jumped on the project sooner – or at least that’s what the optimistic part of me thinks.

Normally our personal flock is allowed unrestricted access to the covered run. We’ve buried the vinyl-coated wire fencing 12″ in the ground and zip-tied aviary netting over the top, which makes it pretty secure. (Though we did have a raccoon squeezing through a small hole where the netting meets the fencing, which we had to reinforce, along with relocating that darn raccoon.) Even though this run is generously-sized at over 1,000 square feet, they definitely prefer free ranging–and who can blame them. Large as the run is, they made a dust bowl out of it in just two weeks, so there’s not much there for them to snack on. Most days we let them free-range in our yard. In the winter, though, we don’t  free range them as often. Our current flock doesn’t like snow underfoot, and there’s less cover for protection from airborne attack.

White Leghorn Escape

Smartypants enjoying herself on "the outside"

At any rate, since the run covering collapsed in late fall, we’ve discovered our most intelligent chicken. Traci has already blogged about her. She named her Smartypants. As Traci said, she’s been routinely spotted outside the run and free ranging. I wanted to follow up on this because I witnessed the remarkable great escape in progress. I assumed that Smartypants flew up and over the run fencing, but I was surprised to discover that she uses a downed corner like a cargo net and wiggles her way up it Marine Corps-style up and out of the run. Pretty impressive, in my book.

We’ve had wonderful experiences with White Leghorns. Some people feel they can be flighty, and are bothered by their appearance in factory farms, but we’ve found them to have wonderful personalities and as a bonus you get an abundance of beautiful, large white eggs.

One Comments
Samilee May 17th, 2012

My friend has a white leghorn who is also an escape artist. Daphne (the leghorn) is probably the smartest chicken I have ever met. She can escape from anything. She is spoiled rotten. She will sit on my friend’s shoulder while Sandy eats her meals, runs down the arm, snag a bite and back up to the shoulder. Her coop is in the kitchen. She does have an outside run but is rarely in it, only to eat and drink. She free runs the neighborhood and has escaped trouble time after time. Finally she met her match in the husky that recently moved in next door. After a couple close calls, Daphne pretty much sticks close to her owner while outside. She is friendly, likes to be cuddled and has the cutest comb that hangs over like someone placed a red tulip petal on top of head. We call her “the white streak” because she is always running.

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