After being without eggs for almost eight months, due to the petering of eggs from an old flock, followed by their demise, and waiting for the Jennies (Novogens) to lay, the Jennies seemed like wonder hens to me. We had eggs again! Baskets of big, beautiful, jumbo brown eggs. My excitement and gratitude led me down a dark path. A path where I spoiled the ever-loving bejeesus out of those girls.
I was out of control. I bought colorful bowls, in which I served them warm breakfasts, cool afternoon treats, and bedtime munchies. Yes, they had layer feed at all times in their coop, but when they saw me coming with those bowls, they flocked to me from every corner of the property.
“You’re spoiling them,” my guy, Larry, would say. I would scoff and shake my head. How silly. I wasn’t spoiling them, I was simply rewarding them for exceptional duty. I would tell myself things like that, you know, how they were such hard workers, and that the treats were healthy(ish), and how it wasn’t hurting anyone so leave me alone.
Turned out, he was right. All those treats at the beginning of their life as hens turned them into out of control brats when food was visible. Seagull-like in their behavior, the petite little ladies would rip the food out of a huge roosters beak, without fear or remorse. They would even attempt to terrorize the dog into dropping his marrow bones so they could peck it. We couldn’t eat lunch on the deck without them flapping onto the table to try and steal our food. Out of control, I tell you.
When I said enough was enough, I began limiting the food bowls to once a day. It was like they waited all day for me to bring the bowls, though. Not peck around like normal chickens. I couldn’t walk across the yard with anything resembling a bag or bowl, or they would be at my feet tripping me up, or hopping up to snatch it out of my hands.
I finally had to go cold turkey. No more bowls. The only extras they would get would be bird seed/sunflower seeds thrown in their enclosure. A rebellion was immediately formed, in which they would sneak their way out of their yards and into every other critters enclosure, swarm their food bowls in search of goodies. Like chicken pirates.
It would have been funny if they didn’t cause so much havoc with their marauding. Terrorizing ducklings, freaking out the goats in their barn, and annoying the dog (who was quite capable of ending their pirate days)… It became a real pain to run and extract them from everyone’s areas, or break up scuffles in the yard. I started to keep a dog kennel in my wagon, to make round-ups easier.
Some peace came when six of the Jennies were gifted to another farm through a barter. There they free-range through fruit orchards, and their new people do not use colorful bowls. They love those wonder egg girls.
For the remaining pirates, clipping wing time came, and limited free-range was strictly enforced. It calmed the homestead somewhat, but every chance they get, the Jenny pirates will sneak into their neighbors’ coop, hoping to find something. Anything. Even if its the same exact food they have in their own feeder in their own coop. I guess to them, the conquest makes it taste better.
I often see them up in the hay barn where they survey their land – and I’m sure – plan their next raid.