Is Grumpy fak­ing?

Your Chickens - - Contents - By Michelle Dunn

You only have to look at a cou­ple of ad­verts for age-de­fy­ing face­creams and hair dyes to con­clude that hu­mans do not en­joy the process of get­ting older. So much so that they try to pre­tend it isn’t hap­pen­ing. Well, it’s pos­si­ble that chick­ens do the same thing.

Grumpy, one of my old­est hens at six years old, is a case in point. Grumpy is a Speck­ledy and, at her peak, laid a big brown egg al­most ev­ery day. Nowa­days her pro­duc­tion has tailed off to one or two eggs a week, stop­ping com­pletely dur­ing the win­ter. Nev­er­the­less, she is very proud of her eggs and cack­les and calls ev­ery time she comes out of the nest­box.

Re­cently, how­ever, I no­ticed that when I went to look for her eggs there was noth­ing in the nest­box. She showed no signs of be­ing egg-bound or dis­tressed in any way, she just wasn’t lay­ing eggs. Why, then, was she sit­ting in the nest­box for the usual amount of time and then com­ing out singing her head off?

I puz­zled over this for sev­eral weeks be­fore I came up with a sur­pris­ing the­ory. What if Grumpy didn’t want to ad­mit she was grow­ing old? Her younger flock-mates are lay­ing ev­ery day or so, but she is only pro­duc­ing one or two eggs a week. What if she is fak­ing it? De­lib­er­ately pre­tend­ing to lay more eggs than she ac­tu­ally is?

What if Grumpy didn’t want to ad­mit she was grow­ing old?

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