Tag Archives: heritage chickens

Shantytown

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.

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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.