I noticed that Peggy was acting a little weird on Sunday. She seemed cranky and was fighting with Tina a lot while they free-ranged. I was a little worried that she was feeling sick or having a problem with her eggs, so I looked at her vent. Happily, it appeared normal and healthy.
I realized Peggy was broody when she didn't come out of the coop yesterday morning. Normally, she runs right out when I come up to the door and literally leaps out of the run and into the yard. Yesterday morning, I found her stubbornly sitting in the nesting box like this.
Peggy puffed up angrily and yelled at me when I opened the lid to the nesting box. I decided to leave her alone, in case she was just laying an egg. But, when I got home last night, she was still in the nest. This time, she had two eggs under her--one of hers and one of Tina's.
So, I decided to force her to go out. When I reached in to pick her up, Peggy shrieked and clucked. She pecked me (hard) when I touched her. Eventually, I lifted Peggy out of the nest and put her on the ground outside the coop. She sat there pouting, all puffed up and irritated.
After a couple of minutes, Peggy got over her anger and ran around the yard a bit. But, once I put the chickens in for the night, she got right back on her nest (despite the fact that there were no eggs).
So, I repeated the process this morning, lifting Peggy out of the nest and putting her out in the yard. She had a nice scratch in the dirt and stretched her wings but went back into the nesting box after a while. I did see her eat and drink a little, so I'm not yet worried about her health. Still, I would like to break her of her broody behavior.
This time of year it's tricky, because I hate to lock my girls out of the coop all day. It's probably several degrees cooler in the coop than it is in the run, and with temperatures in the 90s, every degree helps. I think I may have to, though, if Peggy continues her broodiness.
I have read various other methods online. Many people put their broody hen in a wire cage with food, water and no bedding for several days. Some others mentioned dipping your broody hen's butt in cold water, which sounds somewhat traumatizing--for the hen and the human. I also read on Feathersite that you can put several ice cubes under your chicken's butt in place of eggs. Maybe that sends the signal that the eggs are too cold and won't hatch? Anyway, I might try that one tomorrow if Peggy is still broody. At least that method has the added benefit of keeping her cool.
I'll let you know how it goes.