Broody Hens

How can you tell if a hen is broody? Just come over to my place and I’ll show you three examples. 

It began with one broody hen – Road Runner. Long hours she spent in that coop, resentfully clucking if you tried to chuck her out. If you did get her out of the coop, much puffing up of feathers and angry cawing, a lot of ritualistic dancing about, then mad hareing off in wild directions.

I kept hoping she would snap out of it, so embarked on a programme of hauling her out of the coop every day, within moments, she’d be back in there again. I gave up. Then Simone went bonkers too. Both  were tenaciously sitting on unfertilised eggs, something had to be done.

From a friend, I laid (sorry) my hands on four fertilised eggs and drove them home triumphantly placing them under the eager bottoms of my crazy hens. Both of them stopped laying their own eggs. Did they know they were finally seated on live ammunition? When head hen Marion went all broody too, I knew I’d done the right thing. These girls need chicks.

Road Runner refuses to allow anyone to sit on her fertilised eggs but Simone, lower down in the pecking order, yes it exists, concedes to head hen Marion and shares the joy.

If you go in there now you are met with a trio low growls, eyes snapped into suspicious yellow slits, and a strange ticking, like a hen version of a geiger counter. I shamelessly shift their feathery bottoms aside to check their nests for new eggs, Marion is still laying, then leave them to get on with it... and they do.

Meanwhile, my other three girls go about the place happily doing their thing all day. They are as surprised as I am when one of the broody crazies comes flying round the corner of the barn in a crescendo of crazy clucking, madly races around eating, drinking, dust-bathing then back in the coop again in double quick time.

The girls who are not currently embracing motherhood, no longer find the coop conducive to their daily egg lay and have been taking their business elsewhere… but where? 

Finding the time to watch them in the morning doesn’t come easily, however, a chance blunder by Edith, clattering her way through some empty plastic bottles in the hay barn post-egg laying, attracted my attention. It didn’t take long to discover the incredible stash of 26 eggs that she and the other two had been laying. 

Looking at these eggs it’s as though someone has slumped over a keyboard continuously pressing the letter O. Eggs as far as the eye can see. Eggs drifting out from the original comfy hidey-hole and round the corner of a haybale.

Never a dull moment with hens.