In light of Mother’s Day, we wanted to share a story of determination and persistence to make a mother happy… a mother chicken, that is. Brian Maloof, owner of Manuel’s Tavern, felt a compulsion to start a chicken coop earlier this year. He questioned his sanity, and little did he know that he would soon go to great lengths to handle a broody chicken.
Chicken broodiness is influenced by hormones and causes a chicken to sit on a collection of eggs until she hatches chicks. “Angry Mama,” the broody chicken, was named by Maloof because of her mood.
Angry Mama wasn’t producing eggs for Maloof, so he tried to shake the chicken from her spell with decoys in the form of plastic golf balls. But she remained stagnant.
“She was grumpy,” said Maloof. “I removed the golf balls that she was sitting on in hopes that she would leave the nest and go to her old behavior.”
But much how “mommy bloggers” band together, chickens do the same thing. When Maloof removed the golf balls, the other chickens preceded to lay eggs in Angry Mama’s box for her to sit on.
After four weeks, Angry Mama was pathetic. She had plucked the feathers off her chest, was barely eating and had lost half her weight. Maloof decided a change in venue would do the trick, so he brought the chicken to his home.
Maloof could’ve tried other methods to snap Angry Mama out of her funk, like leaving rubber snakes around her nest to make her anxious, or submerging her up to the head in cold ice water, but the practices seemed too inhumane. Instead he snuck out in the dead of night to slip a day-old baby chick under Angry Mama in hopes that she would think it was her own.
“When the baby chick came out the next morning and she embraced the chick as her own, it was incredible,” said Maloof.
Now, a few weeks later, Angry Mama is a completely different chicken. She’s back to her old weight and all her feathers have come back. She struts around the pen with three chicks in tow.
For Maloof, the labor to care for Angry Mama and his chickens has been humbling. He is reminded of his mother, who grew up in Britain during the rationing times of World War II. “She used to tell me about ‘egg day,’ where once a week she would look forward to receiving one egg. When I started raising chickens, all of a sudden I realized the value of one egg. For my mother, she actually lived through the time when one egg was special.”
-By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog