Mother hens

My black australorp hen went broody about a week ago. Only a few days before, I had been lamenting that probably it would never happen – but when she did and I checked my garden notes, it was only 3 days later than last year.


mama dragon

See her bridling her hackles at me? A broody hen is a scary thing. They make a weird, weird noise and puff up – when you collect eggs at dusk and aren’t paying attention it can be quite startling! There might have been some yelps, or shrieks. There might have been some cussing.

I was glad she went broody, because raising chicks by hand is stinky and labor intensive! But she went broody in the next box, which was terrible because the other hens kept laying eggs on top of her. She kept amassing eggs of different ages, and there were so many eggs that some were getting broken and starting to stink even after just two days.

I had to put her in a special broody box, but even with the eggs transferred over there she refused to stay in it when it was placed in the coop, preferring to run back to her (now empty) nest box. So I had to put her & the broody box in a cage… but the cage wouldn’t fit in the coop. I had to put it in the run, and the whole transferring process took so long, and was so stressful for everyone, that I was sure I had ended up breaking her broody cycle by accident.

She seemed to lose interest in the eggs for a day or so, sitting on them still but doing a lackluster job of keeping them all in one place and covered at one time. After the second time that I put my hand in the cage and shoved them back together under her and she not only didn’t bite me, but got up and let me have my way with the eggs, I gave her up as no longer broody and removed the cage. She immediately got up and wandered off to get a drink of water. Oh well, I thought sadly, and went inside convinced I had ruined everything.

But when I went to gather eggs tonight:



Ouch. Those beaks are strong.

I’m not sure if she is actually broody or just in a really bad mood. She is hunkered down low like a broody, but she might have just been affronted that I was trying to collect eggs at near-dark. If she’s still there tomorrow evening we’ll know for sure. In any case, I was glad I had a replacement!

I walked around smiling to the front of the coop to go put away the broody cage and the lonely, now useless 14 eggs the other hen had abandoned…

…only to find it still occupied by the black hen, sitting as tight on those eggs as she could and as ornery as ever. Guess she didn’t break broody after all! It is quite possible, though, that her brief lack of interest was enough to kill the developing eggs – time will tell.

Two broody hens instead of zero? When it rains, it pours.


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