My Chickens have OCD

I’m not a medical practitioner of any sort but I am a bit worried about my girls. I think they might be suffering from OCD. Or, quite possibly, they’re just weirdos. They slip into these obsessive pecking spells that go on and on and on and on. Plastic items (watering cans, compost buckets, bottles, gardening tools) are their most common target but anything hard is a potential victim. After my husband trimmed some grass along the edge of our house the hens spent a couple of days absorbed in pecking the side of the house. What’s up with that?

Yesterday we bottled some home-brew beer. We make beer for the same reason we do a lot of things in our garden and kitchen – out attitude is: if we can do it ourselves, we’ll try; if we can use ingredients closer to their raw state, we will; if we can cut out transport, packaging and waste material, we should. So the beer, though not made from hops grown in our garden (we use a mix purchased from the local beer making shop) it is made with water from our rainwater tanks and put into old bottles and isn’t transported across town and…

Anyway, I digress. These are the photos of the beer making process. On the left is the beer bubbling away under the house. On the right, Frank is preparing it for bottling.

Here are the girls “helping” us by pecking the bottles as we work. First Rosie and Isabel inspected the clean but empty bottles. Bronwyn was taking a dust bath in the herb bed so missed out on this phase.

Then Frank filled while I shuttled the bottles around.

Bronwyn finished her bath in time to check out the filled bottles before we put them away.

The chickens preferred the glass bottles (we have a few plastic ones) and it looked like they were licking the glass rather than pecking it (though their beaks clinked against the bottles in the process). Maybe they like the cool slickness of it? The bottles had just been sterilised so I know it wasn’t for the taste of anything on the outside which has been my theory in the past.

The OCD pecking (of beer bottles) is behind us and we’re left with a pretty good result. My chooks had an exciting morning and I have 39 bottles of dark wheat beer proofing under the house. Everyone is happy, all is right with the world.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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