Is there such a thing as egg laying etiquette? I’ve often wonder about this. I have heard stories of hens lining up just to lay their eggs in a favorite box, each patiently waiting until the hen in front of them has had her turn. Often in our nesting boxes, I will discover two chickens laying their eggs at the same time in the same box. It is so cute to see them stuffed into the box, chatting together and singing the “egg song” duet. It must be a bonding experience and one that they enjoy as I discover them this way quite a bit. However, yesterday things were a bit different.
I was enjoying spending sometime outside with the girls in the morning. As most everyone was scratching around in the fresh moist dirt I saw that Fifi had to lay an egg. She popped up the ramp and into the coop to have her pick of all the nesting boxes. No sooner had she entered the coop, I saw Sunshine make a bee line inside and shoo her out. This happened repeatedly with lots of squawking and feathers flying. Fifi came out almost as soon as she went in. Poor little Fifi, all she wanted to do was lay her sweet tiny little egg in one of the boxes. She would even take the middle one if forced to. Why didn’t Sunshine understand? Why was Sunshine so bossy all of a sudden? Then it dawned on me.
Sunshine was bossy. Clearly this otherwise docile chicken had begun to transform. With Tilly being on and off broody, Sunshine has bestowed upon herself the position of head hen! At first it began with some naughty behavior, like eating eggs (thank goodness she stopped), completely emptying the feeders and bullying the others away from treats. What had gotten into her? Power. She had control and she liked it. She could do good and naughty and no one was there to stop her. Her rule is so different from sweet Tilly’s.
I intervened that morning. I tossed some black sunflower seeds into the run to provide distraction. Sunshine quickly commanded the scene, gobbling up as many as she could. Fifi took note and ran into the coop and hid in the nesting box on the far left, the favorite one. I had bought Fifi about 5 minutes. Soon enough, Sunshine noticed that Fifi was missing. She marched on into the coop. She saw Fifi in the nesting box on the left and determined she decided to occupy the box on the far right.
I returned to the coop about a half hour later to discover Tilly back inside sitting in the middle box with Sunshine’s and Fifi’s eggs underneath of her. She had been busy. With her beak, she carefully rolled each egg out of their respective boxes and into her favorite box, the middle one. With feathers puffed and some cautionary growls from Tilly, I reached underneath of her and retrieved the two warm gifts.