It’s been a game of chase the chicken this week as Speckledy has gone broody yet again. Although she’s a hybrid, which have been developed without this and other tendencies, one of the breeds that she descends from, the very beautiful French Marans (from which her attractive markings derive), is strongly maternal. I’ve concluded that Speckledy must have a generous helping of this fancy hen’s genes.
The solution to her broodiness is to separate her and the rest of the flock by placing her outside the main chicken run with a bowlful of pellets and mixed corn plus some water. This has the triple aims of:
a) Separating her from a nest to sit on.
b) Frees up a bay of the nesting box so that hens who are keen to lay those lovely, orange-yolked eggs are able to do so.
c) Encourages her to eat and drink. She’d happily sit on eggs all day otherwise and become thin and dehydrated – such is her urge.
So, overnight she is kept in the undercover section of the henhouse and the trick is to catch her when you open the door in the morning – otherwise, she manages to nimbly out-run you, and the scenes that ensue no doubt provide the neighbours with some quality early morning entertainment. I only realised the solution to this when I, somewhat out of breath, took a break from pursuing her and realised she’d slipped into henhouse to sit in the nesting box. All I had to do was raise the lid and lift her out. Or so I thought. She’s a feisty old bird and managed to wriggle out of my arms. We went through the same kerfuffle again – though, this time I was ready to hold her more securely and outside the run she went to think things over. Hopefully, she’ll be back in lay soon – I miss her pretty dark-brown eggs and I’m not sure we’ve the stamina for many more of these high-speed pursuits.