Tag Archives: broody hens


What’s going on in here???

OMG, broody hens!

They went broody on the same day, and after a couple of days occupying the nest boxes in the coop, I figured they were sufficiently committed to broodiness and I could move them.

I carefully prepared their accommodations in the evening. Two chickeries close together, both entirely wrapped with canvas and paper feed sacks (hey, we’re not going for cute here, obviously), but with the wall between them not visually blocked. This backfires later in the story.

Rectangular enclosure draped with canvas and covered with plywood and corrugated roofing

I prepared lovely bowl shaped beds of straw in cardboard boxes just the right size, situated facing each other. Broodiness begets broodiness, so I thought they would be little broody sisters vibing off each other. After dark, I opened the coops, and gently moved all of the eggs of each into the waiting, cozy box. That’s when it went sideways.

I took one hen, settled her into her box. Not having it. I stuff her back in the box, she’s confused, but, Ok, maybe. I’ll sit here. I went for the other hen. She went ballistic. Flipping out. Screaming, flapping, kicking. She started jumping, inside the chickery, bashing the steel roofing ceiling.

I peeked at the first hen. She seized the moment to escape. I wait for her to return to her nest box in the coop, grab her, and bring her back. Now she’s a ball of fury, and also, every other bird in the building is wailing like the apocalypse has clearly arrived – they can’t see it but they’re sure it’s happening – and it’s deafening. It’s cold. I’m worried about these eggs. I jam the struggling bird into the box with the eggs and block her in there with a board.

The other hen is wild. I catch her and shove her in her box and she fights like a prisoner getting thrown in a cell. Eggs go flying, hay goes flying. I push it all in and block her in with a board. Then I leave so everyone can calm down and I go think about what I’ve done. Each of them has 10 eggs that have definitely sparked by now, so I’ve just killed 20 potential chicks and broken up two broody hens when standard hens going broody is still unusual and an opportunity.

I go out to check. The first hen has pushed her board, escaped, and is standing on top of her cardboard box. But calm. Just confused and suspicious. I block her in better.

The next day I left them blocked in their cardboard boxes all day. I felt bad, but didn’t want to risk it. I took a careful, quiet peek, and they were at least settled.


Brown hen with striped neck peeking out of open cardboard box, lying on hay and wood chips

Since, all has been well. By the second day they were in the broody trance and I could set them up as intended and feed them every day since. Hen 1 has been daily digging a hole next to her box and demolishing her food, Hen 2 has only been nibbling and having water. Both have drifted forward in their boxes so they’re just inside, and they have arranged their nests with neat but minimalist aesthetics. They are due quite soon, now.

More chicks!

Ursa Minor’s looking smug (it’s funny how they always look smug or proud when they get their chicks, but it is an achievement that cost endurance and attention).  Four chicks!  How exciting, she got all of hers.There’s one!There’s another one.  These two new moms got transferred out of their broody kennels into boxes and chickeries today, so I could clean the kennels for the next tenants.Daisy finally got her suite upgrade.This one (tentatively “Wolverina” is still so fierce!  She only has two chicks hatched, which isn’t good, but she’s sticking to her eggs.  They were both model sitters, so the problem must be with the eggs.  It’s sad when they don’t get all their chicks. Side by side chickeries.There’s a kennel vacancy (not for long I don’t think).  That’s Sprout and Apples enjoying greenhouse privileges.

Meet the broodies

I’ve got three little broody Silkie hens, installed in the covered wagons in the greenhouse.  Amazingly, they are all from the new set of chickens.  Which is great, that means that they have learned how to chicken enough to go broody.  Impressive.

All of them are sitting on full sized eggs that I gave them.  Four each – I’m hoping for 100% germination, and the hens are petite.  In the past I’ve always given a Silkie 5-6 big eggs, but they never all seem to hatch.

These girls are all excellent sitters.  They sit very still, and they don’t let their eggs leak out.  This little lady is patient enough to have endured the orphans spending a few nights with her in her kennel.This one is vicious.  She’s so small, but she’s not afraid to peck.  She´ll just hammer away at my hand like a woodpecker when I reach in for anything, like to change her hay.  Food refills are tolerated. She’s always moving her eggs around or turning circles on them, arranging her nest to her satisfaction, but she doesn’t let any of them get away. The first two went broody at the same time, and are due very soon.  This one went broody most recently, and is occupying a cardboard box in a chickery, waiting for a vacancy in a broody kennel suite.  She hangs out all day with her beak over her water dish, so I know she’s staying hydrated in the heat.

bird fight!

Snow White and Brown Bonnet had a knock down, drag out fight after I integrated Brown Bonnet and the littlest chicks into the girls fort, which I expanded, and put the covered wagon into.  Now the chicks can socialize, and the hens will lay eggs in the covered wagon.A big fight often always happens when hens that left the flock to brood some eggs come back together.  They have things to sort out.  This time, they waited until the afternoon to beef.Hen fights consist of one grabbing one another by the neck with their beak, and holding on for a long time, while each struggles to dominate with their neck strength.  Think thumb wrestling.  It’s almost exactly like thumb wrestling.Watch and learn, kids, watch and learn.  They both froze like this for nearly a minute, like the bell rang, panting and waiting.Then they went for another round.  Young hens are backing away…The fighters are the only two mothers in the room, I don’t know if that has something to do with it.And then it was suddenly over, and they each walked calmly away.   I have no idea who  won that, but I’m sure they do.

At this time of year?

I have two broody hens.  Why.  Why now?  Anyway, a broody hen is about the stubbornest thing there is, so all I can do is give them eggs, see what they can do.  Maybe they change their minds when it gets colder.

The chickery is a duplex again, with the Oreo’s mom (white) and one of the Heathers,   each with a box, sharing the “yard” and snack bar. I covered the chickery with canvas, I was thinking to reduce light and distraction, and especially reduce the chance of birds falling in, because all the birds like to perch on the edge of the chickery.  They switch boxes multiple times a day.  They come out to eat, or poop, and then the other hen comes out, and the first one back gets on the first eggs she sees.  This used to provoke very loud outrage, but now they’ve both learned to just go find the other box, and so far they are pretty responsible.  Snow White’s a proven mama, she raised the Oreos (now gigantic and disrepectful).

Livin’ in the greenhouse

Spent the day redoing the emergency windstorm work to rights (baseboard, bolts, adjusting all plastic- no small job), and installing everyone in the greenhouse.  Alas, one tiny guinea chick was found dead in the morning, possibly of exposure.  It was cold, but still – odd to keel over in the GH, mom right there.

The two broody Silkie hens co-hatched two chicks.  What with all the competition and apartment swapping, there is no apparent parentage of the two new chicks.  Even the hens don’t seem to be clear.  I installed both of them in the chickery with a broody box and new eggs.  This is for their comfort, for protection from the amorous roosters (How I have longed for you!), and the teenagers who pile in at night.  No one wants teenagers around, even your own.

Broody hens are so funny, they act like it’s Christmas when you give them eggs.  Eggs?!  You shouldn’t have!  Cluck cluck cluck, and they settle right on, like they’re slipping into a warm bath.She’s been sitting on eggs more than a month, and she’s still thrilled about it.

The cohabitation seems to be great for the chicks.  One mom seems pretty into mothering, but the chicks can go in the box anytime to second mom for a warming, which they do.   I think I’ll have a nap with you now.Especially when Mom A is getting down in the dirt bath.  We’ll leave you to it.  We’ll be in here.They all pile in the box at night.  TOO cute!

Before I took their box away, the teens were playing house in it:

A box? Let’s all get in!

The guinea chicks are so tiny, smaller than the Silkie chicks, perfectly camouflaged, and slippery.  After the morning death, I was keeping a close eye and an ear open for their car alarm cheeping, and sure enough, one slipped under the baseboard.  There it is outside on the wrong side of the plastic.  Mom tried to give me a good thumping through the plastic.

The greenhouse is chaotic and messy.  I strew hay bales around for them to distribute, make it less of a mud hole.  They love a good hay bale.

Here we have a guinea perching on the chickery, all the teens, Silkies and Chantis, chilling on the hay bales, and the Oreos, now big grown birds, visiting.
From the other direction. One teen perching, and the guineas, Hey, that’s OUR clothesrack.

It was a stressful day, because it was beautiful outside, and all the teens were determined to get outside in it, and were sneaky and extremely clever about slipping out behind me.  I’d herd two back in and three would come shooting out.  But there were no attacks, and I got everyone back in the GH eventually.

Late in the day, Mama got out with her chicks!  I didn’t see how.  The guineas all seemed to be fixing to roost at large, so it was time for another chicknapping.

Now with only two:(
Mom’s stopping for a snack on her way back in

Then all the other guineas trooped in.

Mama found a real nice spot in the corner of the bales to bed down.She has a very interested observer.

Almost all safe now.