In the lead-up to Christmas the chickens added to the silly season. After being in the big cage for a few days Strider’s limp showed some improvement so I let her out to rejoin the others. The reunion seemed to go well but Sam promptly decided to go broody again. That’s her second strike! Maybe she was moody because the boss had returned. Once again, the chickens had to be split and Sam, appropriately, went into the broody breaker cage for Boxing Day. After four days they were back together again. Strider continued to walk a little off for a while but can now run again. Woohoo! The only thing is that she’s not laying. She doesn’t appear to be moulting so I don’t know if it’s because of all the disruption or what. Sam hasn’t started re-laying but I have just noticed that she appears to be moulting.

Sam and Strider in the orchard after Sam has come out of the broody breaker.

The egg production has been low with all these goings-on, often with precious eggs coming from just one chicken. My frustration with Frodo abated somewhat since she was the sole hen keeping us in eggs for a couple of weeks. Before I can finish writing a post about the chickens something else always seems to happen. Naturally, Frodo is Frodo, and she has just gone broody AGAIN. Yup. No eggs for us now! As soon as I was sure I put her straight into the broody breaker cage today, as I have been reading that dilly-dallying makes the broody breaking process harder to trump. It is not just the hen’s emotions and behaviour that change, but her physiology too. The hormones prompt the ovaries to stop producing eggs after a short amount of time being broody, so acting fast can help to stop this from happening. What is also interesting is that putting a hen in a wire-bottomed broody breaker cage doesn’t just deter her from sitting constantly, but the action of cool air moving around under her helps cool down the ovaries and return them to ‘normal’.

Frodo, so pretty, but so egg-challenged

At this point I am feeling a mixture of  annoyance and responsibility towards Frodo. Maybe if I had dealt with Frodo’s first broody episode sooner she wouldn’t be stuck in this on-again-off-again cycle. But maybe it’s just a passing phase. Or maybe she is broody by nature. In any case, I am going to wait for a while to see how things go. If Frodo doesn’t turn out to be an effective egg-layer she will have to be replaced, one way or another. She is so pretty though. Maybe she could just be my mother hen when I get around to raising chicks.

It really gets me thinking that I should probably get another chicken now… But then I’d really have to get two because one new one would probably get picked on. The problem there is that I don’t think the hen house is big enough for five large breed chickens. Hmmm. Obviously, I will need a bigger hen house at some point anyway, or a second hen house and a second run. But in the mean time, I think we do need another hen to help fulfill our egg needs. Oh, so much to think about. Time for the brain to have a rest now. But first I might just peruse the chicken classifieds to see what’s out there….

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