March of the Broody Hens

So today was an interesting day. If broodiness was as infectious as Covid-19, I would have less broody hens. At home, Stratus was still sitting in the nest box, blocking Nimbus and Cirrus from getting into it to lay. I had arranged to collect six hatching eggs from Trixy’s breeder this evening. As soon as I got the eggs home, I prepped the purple Omlet, placing the eggs into the nest and adding a small food and water bowl. Stratus is the most gentle hen I have had. Now she is broody, she has a completely different personality! Carefully, I picked her up and moved her to the broody coop. Making sure she didn’t crush the eggs, I put her on the perches next to the nest. She had a quick look at the eggs and looked away. Several minutes later, she hadn’t moved. Rolling my eyes, I risked being pecked repeatedly and moved her into the nest. The reaction was ridiculous! She immediately jumped up and perched on the side of the nest. From there, every time I put my hand in towards the eggs, she would peck at me. I tried to explain to the idiot bird that she has to SIT on the eggs not just look at them if she wanted chicks. Out of ideas, I left her to check on the other two silkies. They were happily scratching away in their run.

Curious to see how Stratus was getting on, I went back to the broody coop. She was still perching. I rearranged the eggs into a semi-circle and put her in the nest. This time, she didn’t immediately jump out which was an improvement. But she didn’t roll the eggs underneath her as all my other broody hens would do. She just sat in the nest box. I could see that half the eggs weren’t underneath her. Taking my life in my hands, I tucked the eggs beneath her, receiving several angry pecks for my trouble. So ungrateful! I checked she could reach the food and water bowl and left her in disgrace.

In the cool of the evening, I ambled down to the allotment to check on the chickens. Leia had been sitting in the nest box yesterday and I wondered whether she was catching the broodiness that seems to be in the air. I opened up the shed and threw some greens in for Roxy and Foxy. Their food and water changed, I moved onto the main coop.

Both Maude and Mavis were perched ready to go to sleep in the nest box whilst Rey and Polly loitered by the entrance. I opened the nest box and was delighted to find an egg! At least one of the big girls has worked out where to lay now that the old nest boxes were gone. I suspect it was Polly rather than Rey who has thrown several strops about the change of nest box. I refilled the food bowl for the bantams and headed into the main coop. Throwing out some sunflower seeds, I checked that Millie was joining in. She has definitely gone to the bottom of the pecking order over the past couple of weeks but she did seem to get her share of the treats.

Over in the new coop, Lilja, Sadie and Snap were pottering about in the run. No sign of Leia. This was ominous! When I opened the nest box door, she was exactly where we left her yesterday. Previously when she has been broody, she specialised in the broody death stare and would shriek and puff her feather out if you dated go anywhere near her. None of these things happened when I tentatively reached out towards her. Just in case, I got a small bowl and filled it with water and got her a handful of corn to eat. She had a long drink before devouring all the sunflower seeds. Only time will tell if she is broody I guess!

Tomorrow’s plan is to finish dismantling the old nest box which will give the chickens in the main coop more room to roam. Some weeding should probably be done too if time allows!

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