Hens and hormones

Goldie, Julia and Isabel

Over the summer we had a bit of a scare with one of our hens. Our grey Speckled Star Julia began to moult heavily. She stopped laying and we couldn’t entice her out of the coop, although she seemed otherwise healthy.

Was she being bullied by the other hens? Did she have some sort of parasite we couldn’t see? Was she ill or in pain?

Pretty early on in our chicken adventure we ruled out ever going to a vet on purely economic grounds. We like the chickens, but they are not pets and paying £35 (which may well just be an initial fee) for a bird which costs £15 to replace, just doesn’t add up.

So we decided that if one gets ill, they’ll be despatched. Still that doesn’t mean I’m getting the cleaver out just because a hen acts a bit funny, so I got online to discover what was wrong and if we should be digging a hole in the garden yet.

Turns out she was broody. She was ripping feathers off her belly so she could be closer to the eggs. That’s why we couldn’t get her out of the coop and why she’d stopped producing her own eggs.

Following advice, we basically left her to get over it, eventually locking up the coop during the day so that she couldn’t indulge in her obsession.

For several weeks the moody, broody chicken continued moping about the place in a slightly creepy Miss Haversham way, but eventually she did come to terms with her barren future and get on with supplying us with breakfast.

A massive relief as I’m not sure that I’m ready to deal with the consequences of our no vet policy quite yet, although the day will certainly come eventually. Then I’ll have another dilemma. Bury or eat?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Charlton Estate Trust on September 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I like the blog!


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