Now that my first batch of partridges is almost a week old, they have been moved into new accomodation. For their first week, the broodie hen was restricted in her coop and the chicks were allowed to come and go as they pleased onto a small area of grass bounded by paving slabs. During the last 36 hours, the broodie has started to become quite restless and uncomfortable in close confinement, and I was disappointed to see that she started to seriously trample the chicks. I lost one yesterday and found another dead this morning, so it seemed obvious that the solution involved a great deal more space.
The hen is by no means a big bird, but it’s interesting to see how clumsy she is around the little chicks. She frequently steps on them or skittles them over when she’s scratching, so I had to hurry on and finish my “demonstration” run so that they can all have some breathing space from one another.
The new run is half glazed with perspex (obscenely expensive) to create a mini greenhouse at one end. The floor of the greenhouse is solid plastic and has been turned into a dustbath using soil from the old hayshed where the hens go to dustbathe. I thought that the broodie would enjoy a bath after her time in the sitting box and coop, but it has actually been even more popular with the partridges themselves, who, at a week old, have been keenly bathing themselves under the perspex roof while hail clattered down outside. I love the idea of half-perspex runs, but this little building project has cost me almost £50. With six more broods on the way (one of which hatched this morning), I simply can’t afford to roll it out for everyone.
The partridge chicks adore the sunshine, and it’s almost possible to see them physically growing in it. They close their eyes and bask like cats, and it seems such an important factor for them that I’d almost place it on a par with food and water. True, they wouldn’t die if there was no sunshine, but what a world of pleasure it seems to give them.