Monday, April 1, 2013

broody hen

I mentioned in my last post that we have a broody hen on our hands.

You can't really tell from this photo, but she is hunkered low in her nesting box protecting all of our (unfertilized) eggs.  When we go to collect eggs she puffs up big like a turkey and lets out a low, long cluck.  She never pecks, because she is a sweetheart, but we know that she does not approve of us taking her eggs!

We do not have a rooster right now.  From our experience, roosters are hard to handle in a backyard flock where you are interacting daily with your chickens.  Our last rooster was very protective and continually attacked Buddy, drawing blood at times.  He had to go on to that great big pasture in the sky.  Because of our rooster-less situation, we have no fertilized eggs on hand for our girl to hatch.  We were at the feed store over the weekend and I asked if anyone knew someone local that I could get fertilized eggs from.  One of the employees told me that she would be happy to donate a dozen eggs for us to try and hatch.  We go after lunch today for pickup- we are very excited!

We spent some time this weekend setting up an area for our broody girl to be safe and alone.  We are using our smaller coop (with attached run) for her so she can sit undisturbed.  This morning she is practicing on fake eggs getting nice and cozy in her new spot.  We will trade out the eggs later today.  Once her body heat begins heating the eggs, the embryos will begin to form and grow.  It is so fascinating to me how they can be laid on different days, but all hatch at the same time, at the end of a 21 day incubation period.

This is our first go at hatching our own flock.  I know that Blackberry up there will be a good mama to her little brood!


Jim and Jen Torok said...

We had the same thing happen to our Miss Merryweather about 8 weeks ago...a friend encouraged me to set some fertile eggs under her. I bought two different kinds on ebay. She began hatching on Saturday! Easter Sunday she hatched five more! We still have about 8 eggs left, some were set a few days after the first batch. It's so fun. (and no rooster to deal with) Happy Hatching!

Kim Corrigan-Oliver said...

How exciting!! We have a rooster in our backyard flock and we must have gotten lucky because he is awesome. A little protective of his girls sometimes, but other than that really great.

Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Rosie_Kate said...

I am amazed that she's fine with moving to a different nest! Mine usually get their feathers in a bunch about wanting only the nest they chose (usually the one everyone else wants, too!). Good luck with your hatching! It'll be so fun to have babies!

I currently have four muscovy ducks sitting and I'm excited for ducklings in a few more weeks. I was thinking of slipping some chicken eggs in a nest to use the duck mama as an "incubator". Usually then I can take the chicks and raise them myself, but I don't know if I want to do that when I'm also gonna be "hatching my own egg" pretty soon here... :-)

Becky said...

you're killing me! i do not need chickens at this very moment and all this chicken talk -'s the next big dream!

Traci said...

This is exciting. I don't know if you recall but when we did our own hatch box in the living room, we failed. We did not turn and rotate the eggs enough and had four deformities..atleast that is why I think they were deformed. Martin had to "do away" with them. I did have the joy of being chicken midwife in the night as the babes hatched over four days..great memories...You will wake to fluffy chicks in your exciting!!

Rosie_Kate said...

I saw your comment... the problem I always have is that the other hens want to keep laying in the nest that is being sat on. The broody one keeps on sitting, but the nest gets all mixed up. I've always tried to find some way to isolate the broody hen with her nest and exclude the other hens. I've been able to close off the one nest with the hen's own food and water so that she's just caged in there with her nest. If there's not enough room for that, you can take her off the nest to eat and drink once per day at the same time each day and get her into the habit of that... that's pretty labor-intensive, though. But if the other hens are just leaving her alone, then she should be fine (knowing chickens, though, I'd be surprised if that were the case!). When the eggs hatch, you can just move her and her babies to their own spot if necessary. Good luck!