Broody Hens

Day 7 of 21

Every year, as we approach summer, we begin the battle with broodiness. The hens starting having the urge to be mamas and will sit in nest boxes all day. They won’t lay eggs when they are broody; plus, it’s not great for them. They need to be walking around, eating and drinking–and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Our flock is so prone to going broody. It’s not just one or two hens, we have about 15 hens who will go broody at some point during the summer. Obviously, we cannot let all of those hens raise babies, so we have to gently break them from being broody. Sometimes, it’s easy to break them. Sometimes, it’s an epic task.

For the last three days, we have had broody hens in the nest boxes in evenings when it’s time to collect eggs. First, it was Pumpkin and a Salmon Faverolle. I cannot tell them apart yet, but I am making progress. On the second night, it was Pumpkin and Penelope. Penelope is the worst because she always attacks me when she’s broody. Tonight, it was Pumpkin and Vivaldi. Pumpkin is so broody, and she’s such a sweet broody hen. When I pick her up, there is no fuss. She just stays broody wherever I put her. I’m going to have to use an ice pack with her next. There is a part of me that wants Pumpkin to get to be a mama again because she did so well the first time, but after the last time when she took off for a month, I’m afraid to let her. So I’ll have to keep working on her.

When we let a broody hen have a clutch of eggs, she will be devoted to those eggs while she incubates them. However, just how devoted will vary from hen to hen. Ruby is extremely devoted. She doesn’t take good care of herself, so I try to assist. Today, I had to pull her out for a little food and walking time. She didn’t stay away long. I’m worried because I can tell she’s already lost weight, so I am going to start feeding her more.

The only other hen I ever saw be more devoted than Ruby was Biscuit. I miss her. She was only a mama once because it was really, really hard on her. I didn’t let her have another clutch after the struggle she had. First, while she was broody, she would never leave the nest and when I would pull her out for a break, she wouldn’t even walk. I actually lifted her up and made her walk sometimes to get her going. She had something go wrong during hatch, and only one of her three babies lived. She was so devoted to that baby, and she and Lucy co-parented both of their babies together.

But when it was time for Biscuit’s baby to grow up, she refused. She followed Biscuit around and cried for months. Months. Biscuit would try to run and hide from her, but her baby would always find her. I didn’t even know what to do. It was wild.

Thankfully, finally, her baby let go, but poor Biscuit was worn out from it all.

Anyway, I have certainly seen some variability. I hope Ruby does a good job as a mama this year like she did last year. So far, she seems to be off to a good start. She’s devoted super devoted to those eggs. And I will candle them tomorrow!

One thought on “Broody Hens

  1. Your photos have been beautiful Crystal! I find all this broody behavior so interesting. You sure do know and love your hens.
    Can’t wait for tomorrows candle results!


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