“BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWKAWK!!!” Or otherwise known as “I JUST LAID AN EGG!!” I think almost everyone who keeps chickens probably has an opinion as to why they do it, and why sometimes they just don’t do it even if they have just dropped off an unborn in the box, granted our eggs are infertile, so they are never going to hatch, but do the chickens know that? Some say it’s to alert predators away from the nest after mother hen has just popped out an egg, ok fair enough but she’s right outside the nest box… she’s still calling loudly to any predator in the area that “HEY! I’m a chicken! Eat me for lunch! Spare the egg!” Some say it’s joyous as in “whew I just popped out a biggun thank the heavens that’s done!” Or maybe it’s “I lay eggs, what’s your superpower??”
Soooo as a keeper of the chickens in my own flock, having woken up by loud BAWK BAWK BAWKING as if the world was on fire, (and they say roosters are loud!) I have my own little (probably incorrect) theory as to why my chickens are bawking and why most of the time they are quiet and you don’t even know they have done their faithful duty of egg laying unless you go check the box 100 times a day.
Freckles, aka Miss Piggy, aka Fatty Fluffy Butt, aka all-the-food-and-treats-are-mine, usually just lays her egg and goes back to chickening, dust bathing, eating (good lawd this chicken can eat) I call her the beast. She’s a Speckled Sussex about 6 months old now, and she’s been laying since Oct 2016 (I keep a record in an app called “Flock Plenty”) she’s a big hen, probably our largest aside from Sophie but I think Sophie is mostly feather, Freckles is just built large and heavy, she’s a sweet sweet bird who allows you to pet her while she scratches for food, she’s not afraid and she will eat right out of your hand, she loves green sunflower seed sprouts.
So getting back to the world being on fire this morning my hen started going off around 9:30 (yeah yeah I already hit the snooze button at least once) and from outside our bedroom window I hear this awful BAWK but it sounds more muffled through the window so it comes through as a light honk honk honk with a loud Canadian goose HONK at the end and I jump out of bed like wtf is going on?? I turn on the chicken coop cam and it’s Freckles. Ok well no one is dying so maybe I’ll just go back to BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWKAWK bed – nope. Not going to happen.
Maybe this is not unusual behavior for most people but Freckles just doesn’t normally go off for 10 minutes because of an egg. She’s too interested in eating – trust me – she doesn’t care about her eggs I would be shocked if she ever “went broody.” So I watch the chicken cam for a few minutes and eventually she stops and goes back to eating and by that time I’ve made my coffee and may as well have laid my own egg.
So I turn on what I call the “silkie heater” in the garage, to warm things up a bit, it’s probably the coldest morning we have had yet, 30 or so, and I start to thinking about why Freckles would be so loud about her egg today on the coldest day yet. I make my way out to the garage with coffee to watch my silkies (thanks to Maggie for sleeping IN the water bowl its now a nice muddy brown color) and I came up with this little theory…bear with me here this is long winded.
It’s cold outside. We don’t have a broody hen, thankfully, we don’t need one or want one because we do not have a rooster we are not raising chicks right now, does Freckles know this? I don’t know. In the “pecking order” I have read that in the absence of a rooster another hen will play “Guard” I do believe that job is currently held by Camilla (aka Tiny) our white Leghorn. Also there will be a top hen (Freckles I think) and a bottom hen (Poor Penny) and one of them would be the “egg sitter” – in my previous flock that was lost to the dog attack the sitter was Miss Priss (rest in peace Prissy) and the top hen wouldn’t allow her off the nest box. In this flock we have no sitter (thankfully because that would mean someone is being a real bully) and again, not hatching eggs here!! So Freckles lays her egg, in the cold, and comes out and BAWKS for 10 minutes but in my mind I hear (in my best imagined opera voice) “I’VE JUST LAID AN EGGGGG, ITS COLD OUTSIDE, PLEASE IF YOU WILL, GO SIT ON MY EGGGGG!! IM NOT DOING IT BECAUSE ITS NOT MY JOB! “IM GOING TO EAT NOW IF YOU WANT TO HATCH THAT EGGGGGG GO SIT ON MY EGGGGGG!”
But nobody sat on the egg. In fact there was two eggs (one from Sophie one from Freckles) that were cold and so I collected them to pop in the fridge in the house. Thanks girls.
(Or maybe she’s just saying “HEY LADY! COME GET MY EGG! I did as you asked! My job is done for today! Bring me treats as a reward!” (And of course I did))