About a week or two ago, the daily egg count began to take a dive.
I might collect five or six eggs one day, next to none the next day. A couple of days I literally collected no eggs.
Some days several, some days one or two. I found a couple of half eaten eggs and some scattered shells here and there.
It all pointed to one thing: we had an egg-eating chicken. Maybe more than one.
So I started hanging out in the coop, you know, catching up on the latest gossip, scooping the latest poop. It’s been raining a lot, too, so I even got stranded in the coop during a downpour and decided to stay and watch the chicken dynamics.
My observations all pointed to one thing, rather, one chicken: Barney
Barney is a Barnevelder we hatched from an egg. She is a beautiful bird, the only one of her breed in our flock. Like most “onlys” in my experience, she’s a bit of an outsider, but usually seemed to get along pretty well with the others.
I don’t know how she discovered she could eat eggs, but it probably started with an accidental broken egg. And since that was DELICIOUS, she started making them crack deliberately, pushing them around, making them crack into each other, knocking them out of the nest box onto the floor, etc. Smart, yes. Too smart? Yes, too smart for my liking.
My first response was to stand in the coop on and off all one day to keep her out of the coop once she’d laid her egg and I’d collected it. Every time another hen would go in to lay an egg, she’d fuss all around her, waiting impatiently to get the egg, even getting into the nest box WITH the laying hen, practically sitting on her.
So I started running her out, over and over. I’d toss her out into the run. She’d pretend to walk around scratching for a couple of minutes, then sneak back up the ladder to the coop. I’d hide while she poked her head in, then when she thought the coast was clear, I’d pop out and shoo her back down the ladder.
Before you suggest I get a hobby, let me remind you this IS my hobby. I am a hobbyist chicken pesterer.
My second response, because pestering chickens, wouldn’t you know it, gets old after a while, was to put together a separate enclosure within the chicken run made out of chicken-wire panels I already had on hand. I put Barney in there with her own food and water and went into the house. My house, not the chicken house, for a change of pace.
When I went out a few minutes later she was back in with the general population, eyeballing me suspiciously, but with a glint of self-satisfaction in her eye. She’d flown over the top, apparently.
Today, after spending too much time monitoring the nest boxes, and STILL catching her literally with shell on her beak as soon as I let my guard down, I am now on my third response.
Chicken Time Out.
It may be humiliating, but she has water, feed, snacks, and proximity to the other hens. I can move her jail around to fresh ground like a chicken tractor and I’ll put her back in after the others finish laying, but for now we’re trying this.
It’s better than the soup pot.