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Hertha got it, she "chuckles"! Chicken farmers will now nod knowingly, say a resigned “Oh ha!” Or wrestle a well-intentioned “It'll be okay!”. Anyone who has no idea about chickens asks: "Huh?"

Hence the brief explanation of what the chuckle is all about. At Henne Hertha, the hormones have run away and nature is claiming their rights. The right to a child. Hertha would like to hatch eggs and have chicks. But because we don't have a rooster at all and the eggs are therefore unfertilized, this is a rather hopeless, if not to say pointless, project. "Oh, the poor! She wants children so much and is not allowed to! ”Says Alena, my wife and many other women with her, whom we tell the story. Women seem to be more affected by the tragedy of an unsatisfied desire to have children than men.

I'm much more concerned with something else. During the breeding season, the hens rarely leave their nest to eat and drink. No problem with a healthy hen, because after around 21 days it is all over and the chicks hatch. At Hertha, however, no chicks can hatch. She could sit on the nest forever and try to hatch something. And in the end she starves or dies of thirst. Under no circumstances should that happen. But what can we do? Somebody has to have a tip, after all, we are not the first chicken farmers with this problem.

I scour the internet. A wide variety of advice is discussed in many forums. Some are cruel. There is talk of ice water, because the hen has to get a shock to forget her eggs. Others recommend putting the chicken in a tight cage and keeping it separate from the rest. Both of these do not correspond to our idea of ​​animal-friendly chicken husbandry. So we try to do it gently at first and take Hertha from her nest three times a day and put her in the garden. At least she eats and drinks something every time. But after a few minutes she runs like a madwoman back into the stable. That looks funny, but it's not at all.

The situation is becoming increasingly serious. Herta's condition has been going on for two weeks now and she has noticeably lost weight. In my desperation, I turn to the Alliance Human and Animal Foundation. If anyone knows how to act in a species-appropriate and animal-friendly manner in this situation, it is the foundation's experts. Cornelia Drees is the foundation's chicken expert and advises me to just give in to nature. We're supposed to get Hertha a hatching egg, a fertilized egg, and let her become a mother. A nice thought, but it has three catches. 1. What do we do when Herta hatches a rooster? We cannot keep it out of consideration for the neighbors. The odds are 50:50. 2. One egg will not be enough, because if it is not fertilized, our problem remains. 3. if we slip several eggs for safety reasons, we end up having more chickens than we can keep.

The hatching egg solution is at least out of the question for us at the moment. We get a tip from a chicken farmer who thinks like us. She advises removing the hen from the nest, keeping her in a separate run during the day without access to the barn, and also keeping her away from the nest at night. So we seal off part of the garden for Hertha. She doesn't like that. Not at all. The first day she runs up and down the fence and wants to go back to her (nonexistent) clutch. But at least she eats and drinks more than usual. On the second day she is much calmer. She scrapes more and takes extensive sand baths. On the third day, the story takes an unexpected turn. Our neighbor turns on his petrol lawn mower right next to Hertha's individual enclosure. The chicken is frightened, flutters over the fence and in its panic runs to the other chickens. And stay there! I can hardly believe it, I keep looking in disbelief. But although she could, she doesn't go back to the stable and nest. The problem has apparently been resolved ... thanks to our neighbour's gasoline lawnmower.

Now I don't want to encourage anyone to permanently ignite the lawnmower, the leaf blower or a Chinese firecracker next to their chuckling hen. Perhaps our isolation measure would have worked after a few days. Perhaps it was the first to create the prerequisites for the lawnmower to work. I dont know. But when the next hen sits down, I'm a little more relaxed. There are solutions to the problem.