You know how I said that my Pekin girls are a tag team of broodiness? Well, I wasn't kidding. Hilda has been waving the flag for hormone induced psychosis for about a fortnight now, and just a few days ago Celia went under the spell. As of this afternoon, the Skeksis voiced frizzle has decided to join the gang. Gladys has turned to the dark side. Now three out of four nest boxes are filled with vacant, hot, pale faced chickens. Terrific.
I could weep. Not because I will now be getting only half the eggs I should be. Not because in turfing them out of the nest regularly I am in danger of losing a thumb or an eye. Not even because broody poo is an abomination to the human olfactory system. No. But because my broody cage is inhabited by a small serama hen, and she can't yet be fully integrated.
This is a problem. At the moment, I am sticking my broody girls in a run with food and water, so keeping them from their cosy nest boxes and making sure they don't lose condition. However, they're not away from the Palace for long enough to lose their purpose. As soon as they're released from the run, they are straight back up in to the nest boxes and pulling out their own chest feathers. Much like the way they have me tearing out my hair.
I don't like leaving hens broody. I don't like the fact that they become vulnerable to parasites, and disgruntled flock members. I don't like to see a healthy, glossy bird lose condition. But in order to break a determined broody pekin, it's a minimum stay in the cage of at least 48 hours. And I have nowhere else to stick Smudge without risking the biggest serama punch up on British soil.
Thinking caps on, people.