Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Broody hen

She didn't seem very dedicated at first. She kept changing her mind about which eggs she wanted to sit on.

So we put her to sitting on some golf balls for a while.

She wouldn't give up though, and finally settled down into a spot she liked.

We relented and gave her three eggs to try hatching.

Not listening to the advice of the folks on my Homestead email list, I didn't mark the eggs. Next thing I knew, she was sitting on about 10 eggs.

When she was getting up briefly to go eat or drink, other hens were sneaking in and laying eggs in her nest.

The whole Star Trek "go where no one has ever gone before" concept is alien to chickens. They want to lay where lots and lots of hens have lain before. I've even seen then waiting in line.

I had to candle the eggs to see which ones she'd been sitting on longest. She would have left the others anyway, once the first chicks hatched out.

Instead of using a candle, I closed myself up in a dark closet with a flashlight, but it worked - I was able to see dark blobs in the eggs that had growing chicks inside them.

I'm trying not to get too excited about the whole thing. I've heard so many things from more experienced people that make me think this little experiment won't work. (Most people said that we needed to put her in a separate space if we wanted her to hatch out chicks, but there just wasn't anything available.)

I'll let you know how it turns out.


Hick said...

I never knew this about chickens. They believe in day care?

I'll be interested in your updates.

Liz said...

I love how the other hens were sneaking their eggs in the broody one's nest! good luck with your experiment...hopefully you'll get some little chickies.

Mary said...

Also, you could let her still sit on everything, and keep an eye on all the eggs. When the first ones start hatching, take them away and let her still sit on the others. That's been my experience...as long as she doesn't know they hatched, she'll still sit until she's hatched the later ones. If you let her see (or feel) the first ones hatching, she'll only roost for about 24 more hours.

shannon said...

When we have a hen that we leave in, I mark the eggs that I want her to hatch out, then bug her every couple of days and pull out the unmarked eggs from under her. A pain, but it worked ok last year. You can certainly bring an enclosure TO HER - saves some hassle. She really won't budge much once she settles in, so if you put a circle of chicken wire around her with a little food and water dish the other hens won't be able to put eggs in her nest. Check my blog later tonight - I'll put up a pic of her broody twin over here at our farm. :)

Rurality said...

Hick & Liz, there are many unfathomable things about the minds of chickens! They are funny.

Mary, I'll keep that in mind for next time.

Shannon, she seems to like to go out for a little each day... I sort of hate to deprive her. Geez I'm not being anthropomorphic or anything, huh. :)

happyandblue2 said...

I really know nothing about chickens. This is interesting. Can't wait to find out what happens.

Maktaaq said...

These other chickens were sneaking their eggs into Broody's nest? How exactly? Do they roll their eggs over? Their beaks seem too small to pick up eggs.

Have you seen this happen?

It sounds like cuckoos.

Maktaaq said...

Fascinating stuff, by the way!


Anonymous said...

Oh, how exciting! This combined with the current baby chicks may just push me over the edge. ;)

The only thing I'd be worried about is another hen causing a ruckus by trying to force her way into the nestbox, and breaking the eggs in the process. Unfortunately, I had that happen to me last year!


Rurality said...

Maktaaq, usually they wait until she gets up. Usually a broding hen will get up once a day to run get some water and something to eat. Then another chicken jumps into her nest box and lays an egg!

But some of the smaller chickens have another option... I have seen them try to sit ON TOP of a chicken that's already on the nest! It's kind of funny really. I've never actually seen any of them succeed in doing this, but the little Lakenvelders can actually squeeze themselves in beside the other chicken. They are usually driven away, because of course the first chicken doesn't think too much of this behavior.

Sarah I hadn't thought about it getting so out of hand that eggs are broken! So far that hasn't happened.

All this is new to us too, for the most part. Chickens are so entertaining.

swamp4me said...

Wood duck hens will lay their eggs in another wood duck's nest if the nests are too close together. Maybe it is a trait of precocial birds?

Rurality said...

Could be! But so much of the naturalness or wildness has been bred out of these types of chickens, it's hard to say. Lots of the types don't ever go broody. It's just been bred out of them, so that they will lay eggs all the time.

Maktaaq said...

Laying eggs on top of other chickens? Chickens are a whole new interesting beyond hamsters!

Rhodent said...

She is a beautiful hen!

Rurality said...

Maktaaq, well they try. Chickens are so funny. They are great therapy.

Rho, she says "thanks"!