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Chicken Coop Manners

Would you like to help me do the animals chores this morning? It is cold, so we will need hats and coats.

First let’s go to the barn to feed the goats and sheep. While I cut up a pumpkin for them, you can scoop some alfalfa pellets into the feeders. This goat is bossy and pushing the others away! you say. Yes, she’s the herd boss. Pour some of the feed further away for the other sheep and goats. But this big sheep won’t let the smaller ones eat, you say. And when you put the pumpkin in, they are all pushing and shoving for it! That’s true, they don’t have good manners, do they? That’s why I’m cutting the pumpkin into pieces, so hopefully they’ll each get some!

Now it’s time to check on the chickens. Out on the porch we have a bucket of grain. Can I feed them? you ask. Yes, you can get out a scoop full and scatter it around the pen, while I fill up their water. We watch the chickens as they cluck happily and peck at the grain. Your chickens are so cute and fluffy! Are those two big ones roosters? you ask. Yes, and the smallest ones are half-grown chicks. Hear how that mama hen is calling them to eat the grain she found? Watch them come running! Mama hens take good care of their chicks, don’t they? you say. Yes, hens are very protective of their babies. They keep them warm when they are small, and hide their chicks from predators, if they can. I heard once that someone even found a hen burnt in a fire, but under her there were live chicks. She had sat still to protect them, instead of saving her own life. Wow, that is neat! you say.

Would you like to give the chickens a treat? They really love meal worms—here are some dried ones. Watch what happens when you toss a few to the rooster. He is making a clucking noise and sharing it with the hens! you say. I didn’t know chickens were so nice to each other. Not like those sheep and goats! Yes, I agree. Chicken coop manners are the best ones to imitate. Instead of the biggest ones pushing to get the best things, they share them with the others. And the hens take good care of their chicks, just like my mom takes care of me. The roosters are good protectors, too. Just like a good father, the roosters will keep an eye out for danger and give a warning signal so the others can run for safety. That’s why we want to keep a couple roosters around, so the rest of them can be kept safe. And I think they are really pretty, you say.

So what do you think the chicks do? They listen to the hen and rooster and obey them, you say. That’s right. If they don’t, they won’t last long. And they learn that staying together and sharing is the happy way to live. A chicken that goes off on it’s own is usually the first one to get in trouble. When they learn to get along in the chicken flock, just like you are learning to get along in your family, things go well. Of course, just like people, some chickens are more timid, others are bold, some are bossy, while others follow the crowd. Like the Bible says, what really matters is if we live “in honour preferring one another.”* (Romans 12:10) What do you think that means? Thinking about others instead of yourself? you ask. That’s right! Your hands are getting cold, so I think we should go inside to warm up now!