Out of the blue, The Baroness has turned into a maniac. She won’t leave her nest and growls and bites when you try to dislodge her. She is no longer the docile chicken who follows me like a puppy making happy chicken noises.
This new creature has gone broody. Her biological clock has flipped some weird switch and she has stopped laying and is desperately protecting one of Maria’s infertile eggs. When that’s removed she is as hell bent on protecting absolutely nothing and is a fowl in a foul mood.
I now use gloves as I lift her from the nest dodging henpecks. Once out she screams and flaps her feathers indicating her frustration at being ousted from her invisible eggs with their invisible chicks forming in them. She clucks worriedly.
Since a setting hen only takes short breaks to eat and drink a bit and stretch her legs, most broodies get skinny. She is not herself when she is hungry. She is also making life difficult for Maria by hogging the prime egg laying box. Maria waits patiently for her turn and then finally squeezes in and awkwardly gives the Baroness another potential chick to hatch. Oh and I’m down to one egg layer now as broodies don’t offer up poached, fried, scrambled or egg salad. The broodiness is also catching and sweet-tempered Maria may fall prey.
If not for the growling and biting I might feel sorry for her.
The cure includes:
- Gloves and courage and picking her up out of the nesting box
- Remove Maria’s egg out from under the Baroness pronto
- Locking them both out of the coop after Maria has had her morning egg
- Inserting a bag of frozen peas or ice cubes under her tummy
- Pen the offender in a cage — solitary confinement – with no nesting material
- She sees me coming with the gloves and we go at it until she is removed from the box…literally kicking and screaming.
- Baroness doesn’t really care if she is laying on an actual egg or not. She has a vivid imagination.
- She finds a suitable “nest” pretty much anywhere, fluffs up her feathers and sits ALL DAY in that spot.
- The peas melt and are canabalistically and joyfully eaten by Maria. The ice cubes happily turn into nice warm water in a ziplock.
- Last resort… solitary… coming up
“I find that gently removing the broody hen from the nest, taking any eggs she is sitting on, and then releasing her at the far end of the run where I have some special treats for everyone, generally works in just a few days,” says Lisa Steele in Fresh Eggs Daily. Clearly she has not encountered The Baroness. We are on day eight of the battle. She has taken to sharpening her beak on any solid object.
So much for “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” The Baroness is haunting my dreams. My Rent the Chicken farmer says I can send her packing and get a replacement if she doesn’t get her act together and give me eggs to make fluffy cakes again. Mmmm…would you do that to a friend with Henopause who becomes ill tempered as she copes with a hormonal issue? Maybe if the friend bites…