Ah, youth. So fleeting. It seems like just yesterday we were holding these teeny birds in the palm of a hand. And it kind of was! Can you believe these girls have grown this much in just 12 weeks?! Just three months! I just cannot get over how fast chickens put on weight and feathers and appetite.
And here’s sobering thought for food, as Colbert would say: these girls are already twice the age of the average chicken you’ll find in the grocery store (eeps!). Although those birds are specific “broiler” breeds that put on weight even faster, and pastured chicken generally have a slightly longer tenure.
But while we’re on this topic, may as well speak up! Many have asked after this path—what one does with chickens that age beyond their laying years—and it certainly seems to be a real issue that’s garnering plenty of attention in the media… but the answer for us is pretty clear. I don’t care how fast they grew, or how productive they are, these little chickies are family now. Especially since we raised them from peeps and because they’re not yet producing eggs, our ladies are pretty much 100% pets at this point. Once their “usefulness” is done sometime down the line, we’ll still value their company as we would a similarly-aged dog or cat, and consider all remaining bug-devouring and compost-producing capabilities a cool bonus. Certainly there are edge cases and mercy situations, as with any pet. And while we’re not going off chicken meat altogether, we’re happy to imagine these particular hens growing to be ornery old chicken ladies.
Although right now that seems very premature, as these typical teens seem intent on eating us out of house and home! Or garden…
At twelve weeks these girls are really still what’s known as “pullets,” which are basically immature hens or – you guessed it – teenagers! They’re pushing boundaries, establishing hide-outs, experimenting with new plants, and getting into trouble every which way they can find. And they do it in pairs or big groups, like classic mallrats.
They’re still spry and skinny enough to catch some air…
But they look a little gangly in the process!
There are daily confrontations, while the flock sorts out its pecking order. No bloodshed, but some squawking and stare-downs have ensued.
Who will be the queen bee? It’s not at all decided just yet. Even Ziggy usually stands up for herself when faced with a challenge that’s not a sneak-attack. It’s anybody’s brood.
One thing they all have in common, though: they definitely think they’re all grown up already.