Tom & Turbo
An animal rescue of a different kind
One afternoon the phone rang in the administration of Gut Aiderbichl and we were told the story of two roosters. The two had been staying on an industrial site in Salzburg for weeks. They walked along the road and in the evening they were discovered in the branches of trees.
So our Aiderbichl team went to take a closer look. Sure enough, there were two beautiful roosters sitting in the branches of a tree. Anita Hartner bravely grabbed a high ladder and climbed the tree to rescue the roosters. She then took the two "unknowns" to the chicken coop at the Schroffnergut, one of the outdoor coops at Gut Aiderbichl Henndorf.
Tom and Turbo are now the names of the two roosters. And you won't believe it, but the two of them still sleep in the branches of a large tree at Schroffnergut, together with a couple of hens.
Why does the sleeping chicken neither fall from the perch nor from the tree?
We all know that hens and roosters sleep on a perch in the henhouse. The close cuddling supports the feathers so they don't tumble down. They also don't fall down because they have strong claws that curl around the perch. So, for example, when Tom and Turbo sit on the branch of a tree, the heel is bent and the tendon on the back little leg tightens so that the claws can contract. There are no muscles in this area, so chicken or rooster do not get tired either, and sleep sitting on the perch. The contracted claws do the balancing work. When the chicken stands up again, the tendon relaxes and the claws open.
Why do hens and roosters sleep aloft overnight?
When there were no chicken coops, the cackling ladies and crowing gentlemen in feathers always slept in trees. The branches protect the animals from birds of prey, and even martens can't really spot them in the tangle of branches.
So this instinct to sleep in the tangle of branches is an old law of nature. One might therefore think that for Tom and Turbo, home in a tree is considered normal. But what was certainly alienating for them may have been the industrial site. Fortunately, they found a tree to sleep in there too, surrounded by concrete.
Tom and Turbo are now the "cocks in the basket" of the Schroffnergut chickens
The hens of Gut Aiderbichl now live together harmoniously with Tom and Turbo, and over night some join them on the tree next to the small pond.
The chickens are divided fairly between Tom and Turbo. In nature, chickens live in groups of about ten hens with one rooster. At Schroffnergut there is peace and harmony, there is no aggression, although there are no precisely formed flocks. Aggression usually increases with flock size or when there are too many hens in a flock and they don't know each other. By the way, chickens are very social animals and can "exactly" memorise up to 50 conspecifics, for example, other animals are "only" perceived.