I feel sorry for Betsy. She has now spent nearly seven weeks on her own while her pal Vera has been busy incubating and rearing chicks. The pekins swing between total indifference and trying to kill her, so aren't exactly company. I am in the process of trying to get her a bantam pal, but for now she resides in the bottom hutch alone.
For the last week or so, providing that the weather is fine, I've been putting Vera and the fluffy duo on the lawn in a rabbit run. They have aroused a lot of interest, and no one is more interested than Betsy. I have watched her carefully. She seemed interested, but not particularly homicidal. So, today, I let the chicks free range with their mother and Betsy for the first time. I was not so silly as to let the pekins out as well, and I stayed very close. How did it go? Well, judge for yourself.
At one point, Betsy was between Hoppy and Vera. Hoppy noticed, and ran under Betsy's tail to reach Vera's fluffy undercarriage. Betsy did a comedy startle, and squawked while leaping 6 inches in to the air. Sadly, I wasn't filming at the time. The hen was a little unsettled about the chicks, but apart from a very vague peck in Sylvie's direction, seemed happy to ignore them while chatting to her pal.
Despite this apparent success, it will be some weeks before Betsy can be left near the tiny micro chooks without me hovering nearby. I don't think she would eat them, but it's best to be on the safe side.
After all this effort, I don't want them to be a pre-dinner snack.