Tag Archives: broody hen

Broodies and brooderies

First order of business: a broody box for Perchick (smaller than a chickery, but big enough for a big hen mom – wow!  I have broody layer hens!)

While I was making a broodery, I made another chickery, because I’m sure I’m going to need one real soon.

Note helper chicken, Apples, stage left.

Cream Puff is still freakin’ out!  She’s being good, diligently staying on her eggs, but she’s on high alert and looks very concerned, like she thinks she’s losing her mind, and no one told her this could happen.  What’s happening to me?!  I’m feverish!   I have a compulsion to snuggle with eggs.  I can’t Google these symptoms because I don’t have thumbs!

If I crack the door to her box to reach her food she flips out! and makes a wild flapping break for the door.  Then gets back on her eggs a minute later like nothing happened.

It’s nice that it’s easy to peek in at her.  Her guard is never down though.  No matter how quietly I sneak up to peek, she’s looking right at me through the gap.

Perchick made a smooth morning transition to her broodery though.  With the help of a cloaking device.

She seemed to like to be covered.  She pancaked right out while I sorted eggs and stuffed them under her.   I figure the disruption of being moved is nothing compared to being hassled by the other hens trying to lay an egg on top of her.  Puffcheeks is a real squaller.

Traffic jam in the nest box

I set her up in the greenhouse, and am just committed now to that being the last end of a row I get to plant.There’s a kennel vacancy.  The broody Silkie was faking it.  Well, probably not, but for whatever reason she was broken up and frustrated this morning, Why am I in a translucent mailbox?!  so I put her back into gen pop.  She was a new hen, so I’m surprised she even went broody.  I figure those hens are still calming down and learning to chicken, not ready to level up.

Last frost tonight.  Says me!  The forecast says not even, so it may have been overkill for me to run around in the dark for an hour, to cover everything and bring in the seedlings, etc etc, but it smells like winter this evening, and I’m not taking chances.  I am definitely ready for that aspect to be done – the frost shuttling and the frost blanketing of the plants already in.   I was excited for tonight to be the last night of that. So are the guineas.  They do not like the row cover.   Or someone keeping them up when they’re ready for bed.

*It did frost

The little chicks change every day.  The brown one is getting browner!

morning sunbeamThe other is still a mom sitter.

Where there’s life, there’s cheeps.

This morning on chicken breakfast rounds, I discovered tragedy in the broody box.

A chick!  But it was spilled out in a corner of the box, belly up, wings and legs splayed out, eyes closed, beak open.  Very bad.  It was still alive, barely, and I stuffed it back under her, immediately.  Its legs stuck out straight.  A minute later, after tidying up, I rearranged the chick to tuck the legs in.  Its eyes were still closed and beak open, gasping.  This is usually the sign of imminent death.

But an hour later when I checked, lifting up momma’s front to see underneath, the chick was all life, jumping around tap-dancing on the other eggs. Cheep cheep cheep! Yay!  Recovery, due to the magical properties of momma hen heat.  I found her in time.

At lunchtime, there were two!This one was wobbly and still damp. It just kind of sunk, flattened, into the hay, falling asleep, and momma settled onto her.   This is good.You can still see a closed eye.By evening, the two were nimbly bopping about.   Momma jumped out to recon when we rearranged her living situation – now in a chickery – but went right back on the eggs. The remaining four eggs show no signs of pipping, unfortunately, but two healthy chicks are better than one or none.

One  is a blue egg, Puffcheeks or Cheeks’ offspring, and one brown- total unknown.  Hatching eggs from my layer flock is a mystery gift bag.  Almost all of them will be crosses of one kind or another.

Snow White and the two dwarves.

Snow White and her two dwarves ave been reincarcerated in the Chickery I all month.After being integrated into chicken society at large, and even going to bed in the coop, HW put them back in the chickery while I was gone because they weren’t doing well.  He deemed them still too small.

They sure aren’t to big to be above cuddling with Mom at night.  They get closed into the covered wagon at night, while Brown Bonnet and her three, weeks younger, still get an airlift into the house on cold nights.I love the pompom tail stage.  Following pants.

Dawn in the chicken dome

I’ve changed the dynamic in the greenhouse these days by moving the little hens out of the teenager house and into the big coop.  Every night I reach into the teenager house, gropw around and pull out the four hens and Yin and Yang, put them in the big coop and leave the roosters.

Hopefully they’ll learn to go in the big coop by themselves soon.  Then I leave the roosters locked up until last in the morning, after the hens have had priority seating at breakfast.  The boys have an entirely different attitude, now that most of the birds are already about their business when they come out.  They don’t act so important.Yin and Yang and a young white hen aren’t sure about how to get out of  the coop in the morning either.Mushroom run!  She’s got a mushroom and just wants to eat it in peace.  (The lads are still locked up in the frat house there) A few guineas on their fave hay tower.

Brown Bonnet is outside now, in the Chickery 2.0.  She already has an avid suitor.  I’ll be your baby daddy! 

At night she goes in the box with the brood, and we close the box and carry it into the house, and then back in the morning.  The chicks are still so little, I don’t want it to be too much of a strain on her to keep them warm.They’re under her here, but all you can see are a couple little feet sticking out.

House chicks!

There’s a cheeping box in the house!  It’s a big box, big enough to have an inner box cave, where the chicks like to hang out in the dark all day.Three little chicks:)

Freshly washed

This one is Brownie, HW’s favorite, who was hatched first, with a little help.  This is the most vigorous and  adventurous chick, but oddly, it’s been getting pasted butt.  I’ve never known a hen-raised chick to get pasted butt.  I thought the mother hen was proof against it somehow.   While I was gone HW was washing chick butts (he really likes this chick), and today I had the pleasure. It’s a lifesaving necessity for pasted butt.

It takes a while to gently soak and wash, and mama freaked out a bit at the absence of her first-hatched.  She jumped up on the side of the box, then thought better of the mission and hopped back down in.Lowering Brownie back in.

She’s got a chick growing out of her cheek!

Chick warming

I would like a warming and to eat, please

 

I’m a cozy chick!

The two white chicks are alive and well.  Recently released from the chickery:Major Fowler has been dying for her incarceration to end, paying tribute and bowing from the wrong side of the mesh.

They reintegrated very well, Snow White immediately bringing her chicks up into the coop, which she seemed very happy to return to.   I’m ready to be in my own bed, and warm for a change!  Only two days of chick ramp shenanigans before they were following mom in on their own.  They’re never sorry to be picked up and tucked in a coat.This one was snatched up for a photo shoot and contented to be pocketed for a warming.  They always have surprisingly cold feet. I’ve got wings!!

Broody kennel

I have a broody hen (she’s lost her marbles, didn’t get the winter memo), so I built her a new special broody box for her own comfort and safety, out of hardware cloth, with a plywood base.  A lobster trap meets a mailbox:First I put in a piece of foil, to reflect her heat on her eggs.Then cardboard.Then a “nest” of hay. A clutch of eggs (her eggs-I actually did the transfer very quickly from where she was setting in the main coop)A wall of hay bales around her, liberal hay underneath her box, and canvas for drafts and darkness (now it’s a covered wagon). There she is, settling in, front “mailbox” door shut.  The first thing she did was throw a tantrum and knock over her dishes, but then she saw her eggs and simmered down.Naturally I had the usual helpers, doing anything in the GH:

Is that…Aluminum foil?

What, is it arts and crafts time?!

All done and closed up.  Completely safe from any ground predators, just like the birds that get shut in their coops at night.

Now she gets breakfast in bed, in her prairie schooner.  I plan to make a series of reusable kennels, for the broody hens next year.  The cardboard box has many limitations.  This is the right size for the first few days after hatching, when the chicks start to eat, but don’t go very far, and then they will go into the chickery after that.Snow White and her two white chicks lounging in front of the broody kennel installation on a warm day.

Inevitable, perhaps.

The temperature dropped over the holidays to “very cold!”, and I brought her and her mailbox into the house.  She lives in the mud room now.  I candled her eggs and they seem to be alive.

If she’s so determined to sit on eggs in the winter, well, we’ll try and give her a shot at success.

We’re gonna have house chicks!

All well

Let’s shake the hen and see who falls out?Phew!  There’s two!  The crushed egg chick made it, and is totally fine.  It doesn’t always turn out that way.

There’s three.  The youngest is a brown one.  So tiny.  It’s inside the box, cheeping.  Hey, it just got cold! Mom responsibly goes back in her box to sit on it. And the other two chicks find their way in.

Later we got rid of the box.  That’s too cramped for her to be going in and out of.

 

Winter chicks…

The tell-tale shell!  It’s so cool how the chick unzips the egg much like we would take the lid off a hard-boiled egg.

Snow White was all about rolling her eggs out of the nest today.  She probably knows something I don’t, but I gave her reject eggs to Heather, in the duplex next door.

There’s the chick!  All of them spilling out of the box.

There was another chick as well, partially hatched, but her egg was crushed like it had been stepped on, as if being in an egg isn’t cramped enough.  The membrane was drying out, so the chick was in trouble.  The membrane that keeps them alive in the egg can kill them when they are hatching,  if it dries out.  It becomes stiff and adheres to skin and eyes.  I’ve seen a couple of chicks die during hatching because they couldn’t break that membrane or worked too slow and the membrane suffocated them.  That’s gross and sad.  But this chick, I rapidly grabbed it and peeled it, Cheep!  Cheep!, and popped it back under the dark hen belly.   It was alive but not necessarily well, so I don’t know if it will make it to tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to moving the broodery to a fresh spot and making it all clean for the chicks to grow up in for a week or two.  It’s pretty messy from two hens pooping for a full term.

Everyone else is well.After a year naked, Jean Jacket is sprouting a lot of feathers on her wings, which is excellent.  She must be enjoying her fleece jacketExcept the black really shows the dirt!

There’s the keet in the corner, up on the keet highway.  The keet is very active now, a big hopper and it can fly some too.

Time to groom! Everyone at once now.