our hens bring us so much joy.
so much that we can’t stop talking about them.
so much that we actually teach classes about them.
so much that i want to focus on them a bit more here in this space.
there is always something to say and learn from from them.
and since we have several people popping in here from time time who take our classes i thought it might be fun to write about some of our backyard chicken adventures.
i am working on a downloadable backyard chicken guide complete with photographs and even movie clips.
but for now let’s talk broody
meet lemon. our americauna hen. she may be the plainest looking of the flock but her eggs are a pale blue-green and she is the sweetest of hens. the first to roost up on her branch at night and the quietest of the bunch.
yes chickens actually have personalities. and each one of our hens has it’s own distinct traits.
last week we noticed lemon was inside the coop more than usual and a bit grumpy (not her usual self). when she would come out to the run she was puffed up and clucking quite a tune. some of the other hens would peck and chase her and she would run away and keep to herself.
we knew right away that lemon was “broody”
broodiness is the tendency to sit on a clutch of eggs to incubate them. it is innate in a female bird to want to hatch her eggs whether their eggs are fertilized or not. so since we do not have a rooster, poor little lemon would have sat their til the cows came home.
This can be a problem since when a hen becomes broody they become so focused on hatching those eggs that they go into a trance as they sit on their nest, forgetting to take care of themselves. They will not eat, drink or exercise leading to illness and possibly death. if you were in the mood for a few more chickens you do have the option of finding some fertilized eggs for your broody hen to hatch. but since we are quite content with our flock of four off we went to help lemon back to her old sweet self.
it is important to collect eggs daily and if possible as soon as they are laid. broody hens will not only sit on their own eggs but eggs of other hens as well, so collect all eggs. you may have to get right under her and take them. she may peck and scold you but remind her you love her and are doing this for her own good.
try to scoot her out into the run which may mean closing the door to the coop so she eats, drinks and socializes with the other hens.
a broody hen will raise her body temperature to prepare for the nesting phase.i had read about placing ice cubes on the nest or a dunk into a bath of cold water to cool her down. i however did not have the heart for this and thought i would rather try to focus on not letting her get too comfortable instead.
we scooted lemon out of the henhouse several times a day and even let her out to free range away from the other hens to get a break and be reminded of her normal chicken ways. we fed her sunflower seeds and let her romp around in the garden for a bit.
it took a few days of staying on top of her but soon she was back to her old self.