This morning I was a bit bleary eyed when I let them out of the coop, Lavender stayed behind rather than run to freedom. Again I did not think much of it as often someone is busy laying and I 'do not disturb'. This appears to take about 45 minutes. The hens will just pop off to the nest box when they need too. They all share the same single box. Although there are two boxes they would rather plait their legs and wait for the 'Number 1' nest box to become vacant. Lavender is currently an egg a day girl.
I have been busy going about the day today, as you do, but I hadn't seen Lavender. Euan and his friend went to feed the chickens bread this afternoon and the three 'Ginger Ninjas' were making the boys laugh and jumping for bread. I asked Euan to investigate where Lavender had got to. He came back down the garden and said she was all puffed up in the nest box laying an egg. It took another hour for this to sink in with me. I thought 'Ahhh...Lavender is not right today...we have not seen her out.' I went to investigate. On the way I pulled an enormous swede out of the garden for lunch tomorrow.
I opened the nest box and there was Lavender. Puffed up to an enormous size. I said 'hello' and she gave me a squawk and she looked very cross. I wondered if she was hurt and even though I do not want to be scratched or pecked by an angry chicken I know it is my duty to investigate and sort it out. I tried to touch her and she gave me a low, growly, croak, that I clearly understood to mean 'Back off or else'! Chickens can draw blood easily! Ask me how I know! I have never had a broody hen as the little Red 'Brown Link Hybrids' rarely go broody as they are egg production birds and the most prolific layers of the 'Chicken World'. Lack or broodiness is a breed trait. Lavender is a 'Speckledy Hen' which is also a Hybrid Breed but different to the Brown Links. 'Speckledy Hen' is a lovely breed name. Who wouldn't want a 'Speckledy'? Broodiness can cause significant health problems for a hen. Broodiness can last for days if not weeks. A hen will neglect her self care, not eating and drinking to sit on her eggs all day and all night. She will protect them fiercely. Her own health can take a nose dive. I have read that the most effective way to cure broodiness is to house the hen separately in a wire floored pen for a few days. The wire floor means they cannot get comfortable and it lowers their temperature. Temperature is a key factor in broodiness too. This sounds very harsh and is not really doable for me at the moment and as we are at 'Day 1' I will monitor Lavender closely and thank goodness I am off work so I have time to give her extra tlc.
I decided against her will, I had to get her off the 'nest'. I chickened out and used a children's spade to gently 'shove' her off the nest. She went straight for food and water and ate ravenously. Her 'sisters' appear to be thoroughly enjoying a Lavenderless day.
|Girls! Should you be in there?|
Lavender was very cross, croaking and puffing herself up like a turkey. The nest was incredibly warm and she was sitting on a toasty warm egg. Much warmer than any egg I have felt before. It is very cold here today so I decided to encourage her out of the coop altogether and close off the nest boxes until it is dark.
Poor Broody Lavender ran back to the coop. She is desperate to get back in the nest box and does not understand why she can't. She looks very unsettled, anxious and cross. I am in absolutely no doubt when I come across a cross chicken. They are good communicators and let you know how they are feeling. She is looking at the door and pacing and pecking. The sooner I break the broodiness for her the better though. The longer I leave her broody the harder it is to break. Her feet look 'pink' usually they are cream, she looks like a child with a fever. I am having to be cruel to be kind. I have come to blog about it rather than watch her distress! I am lucky it is cold now too as being off the nest and outside today will certainly lower her temperature. If it were Summer and hot outside it would be a different matter. I have been blessed so far, the chickens have had really good health without any problems. . .so my 'Poultry keeping' adventures have been all happy and trouble free. Having Lavender 'off colour' has bought it home to me how attached I am to these hens. It makes me sad to see her distressed. I want her to get back to her usual 'bustling' self asap.