Since moving to our new house, we’ve learned that chickens are pretty easy to care for. Feed them, water them, let them run around in the lawn occasionally, collect eggs daily, clean out the coop weekly, repeat.
Last week, though, we noticed that our austrolorp had taken up residence in the nesting box, and boy was she was ornery! When I tried nudging her out she would just fluff her feathers, growl and peck at me. Hmmm…
Google told me that she had become “broody,” i.e. she thought she could hatch some eggs. Without a rooster to fertilize the eggs, though, she was SOL absent some miracle of immaculate conception.
Apparently, it’s not a good idea to let a hen follow her natural instincts when there will be no end in sight. She stops eating and drinking as much when she’s sitting on her eggs and plucks her breast feathers out to enable more of her body heat to warm the eggs. Left alone, she may starve to death or suffer other health consequences. She also stops paying the rent.
Fortunately, the solution seems fairly simple and humane. We needed to physically separate her from the nesting box and cool her featherless breast down. A loaner dog kennel, some hardware cloth, a tarp, some plastic containers for food/water, and a few 4×4 scraps were all that was required to construct her chicken jail.
She’ll do a tour of duty for a few days. Then we’ll let her out to see if she is back to her old self. If not, it’s back to solitary confinement for another day or so.