Let me start by saying that we have had a little broodiness before. No big deal…we moved the chicken out of the nesting box a few times, collected the eggs and all was good. But this time…no eggs in the nesting box for two days! The ladies ALWAYS lay their eggs in the same nesting box. It just didn’t seem right…what was going on…why weren’t they laying?
Inspecting things one day, I noticed one chicken missing from the flock in the chicken yard. It was a fairly hot day, so I checked inside the coop to make sure all was well. There she was all sprawled out…away from the nesting boxes. I tried to move her, but she showed me an attitude that I had not seen before. She puffed her feathers out, cackled a weird sound, and gave me a mean look. Ms. Brood was moody! In reality she was brooding – a natural instinct to hatch eggs. In her mind,she was protecting her nest of eggs from what she perceived as a threat.
We had to physically move her! Guess what we found? Seven eggs! She had managed to move them from the nesting box, across the coop and into the corner. Yes, she was determined, but it wasn’t going to work…there is no rooster! She could lay on those eggs for a year, and nothing would hatch…they weren’t fertile. She wouldn’t hear of it though.
After we moved her and gathered the eggs, she quickly went back to her moody broody ways. she would even stay in that spot at bed time, instead of roosting up high with the other chickens. Rarely did she go outside the coop to socialize with the other chickens. She wasn’t taking dust baths, which is a favorite activity for her to do. She rarely came out to eat or drink. OK, this was becoming dangerous to health now.
We physically moved her a couple more times, before we realized it wasn’t going to work with this one. She needed a time out. Some time to herself. Some time to calm down. Some time to work through her issues. She needed to be uncomfortable for a few days (no bedding or nesting areas because she wasn’t laying eggs at this time), to forget about the desire to nest.
To the barn she went. There she would be away from the rest of the flock, yet safe from predators. We put her in a metal dog kennel (turned upside down so the wires were closer together, making it easier for her to grasp). We also removed the plastic tray. No comfortable bedding was added. The purpose of this time out was to make her uncomfortable without harming her. Being uncomfortable would hopefully remove the desire to brood. We raised the kennel on two saw horses. This was our lovingly way to allow air to circulate all around her. We gave her plenty of food and water.
She pecked at that food with such vigor, like there was no tomorrow! She stayed in time out for three days to work through her problems.
While Ms. Broody was away, the stress seemed to lift off the rest of the flock. They each reverted back to laying one egg per day while she was gone.
After 3 1/2 days, I returned Ms. Broody to be with the rest of the flock. I collected the eggs for the day first, so she wouldn’t see the eggs and be tempted to brood again. I put her back in the chicken yard at afternoon feeding time. I also gave them fresh zucchini peelings, hoping this yummy treat would keep her occupied for a while and away from the coop.
As you can see in the picture above, as she gathered with the rest of the flock, she seemed to ‘shake it off’. Ms. Broody and the rest of the flock clucked, catching up on chicken talk. After they ate their layer pellets and zucchini rinds they all proceeded to take dust baths under the coop. All was well in chicken land again.
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