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I have now made a study of this.  I think it ranks with Kinsey. My study has focused on Geoff and Digby, who are brother and sister bantams. The reasons for their names are irrelevant and Digby does not know she has a man’s name so my study is not in any way predjudiced by avian feelings of gender dysmorphia. Just take it that Geoff is a cockerel and Digby is his female sibling and they arrived here aged about six weeks having been raised from egg on a sofa by the children of a Hastings osteopath.

I have also taken into account the fact that they were raised by humans, and that they had different names then. Since they came here they have never responded to any name – old or new – or shown any interest other than aggression (Geoff) or fear (Digby) in humans. So I reckon their upbringing has left no imprint other than their awareness of each other.

This is where it gets interesting. Geoff, being a cockerel, is a) loud and b) rude. Go into his run and he will attack you. He doesn’t care that you’re six feet tall, can run fast, carry a big stick and weigh about 500 times what he does. He still attacks you. Mainly your feet. So he gets ten out of ten for blind courage. He’s also survived several assaults by Mabel who can kill a rat in a nano second but has yet to kill him.

Digby is even smaller. Given that they are bantams and therefore much smaller than normal chickens, and of a breed that is particularly small anyway, she is like a tiny black pigeon.

Their relationship is very interesting. Digby follows Geoff everywhere, all the time. He can be racing up and down the inside of his run ‘protecting’ the others as we walk past and she will race along behind him. He can leap on top of one of the others and give her a violent shagging and she will still hang around hoping for some attention.

He can even jump her, crush her completely under his (comparatively) vast weight, give her a good seeing to, and she’ll limp to her feet and stagger after him. And at night, in their coop, she sleeps completely cocooned under his wing while he stares fiercely at the door in case an intruder – like a fox –  should need killing.

So – love and sex. Need and protection. Incest. And egg laying. There are lessons here, but I’m not sure what they are. 

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