Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Broody Hen

Latte : our broody hen

Over the past week or so, we have had a broody hen.  I’ve heard of the term before, but I never realized that hens without a rooster (thus, no fertilized eggs) would go broody.  To be honest, I thought our chickens were “broody” when they did a little song and dance after laying an egg! I was sorely mistaken.

We had noticed that the number of eggs we’ve been getting from our 3 chickens has decreased since the weather got nice, which was very confusing to us.  Come to find out, Latte, our “leader of the pack,” is actually broody. 

How to determine if your chicken is broody:

  • She will not come out of the nesting box
  • When you physically pull her out of the nesting box to go run about with the others, she is fluffed up and not happy at all!
  • The once leader of the pack will become a loner
  • She will stop laying eggs

I decided to visit Craigslist to see if we could find some fertilized eggs.  We have been talking about getting 6 more pullets (female chicks) next spring, but wanted to know if we could get the fertilized eggs now and let Latte incubate them naturally.  I found a micro-farm about an hour away from where we live that has fertilized eggs ready to be warmed up by Latte!  The owner I spoke to was a wealth of information.  I learned that if we went this route, it would take 21 days for the eggs to hatch. How fun!!!  The only downfall is that we could potentially get roosters, which we are not interested in.

So how do you stop a chicken from being broody?

You keep her out of the nesting box.  We have a door that closes and locks the nesting box so that nothing could get the chickens at night.  We are now using that to lock Latte out of her nesting box.  By doing this, she is not able to nest, thus, in the next week or so, she will be done with being broody and start a regular routine of laying eggs again. 

The other routes are to buy pullets from this breeder and let them mature this summer and fall to start laying eggs for us in late fall or winter and wait patiently for Latte to get back to her usual routine of laying eggs. 

We have yet to decide what we want to do, but I will tell you that I am pretty confident we will get our pullets from the micro-farm even though they are double the price of pullets from Tractor Supply.  The owners brought their chickens over from Australia (not shipped by a hatchery!) and they breed with only their original blood lines.  I like that the chickens didn’t come from a hatchery, are hormone, antibiotic-free, happy free-range chickens! 

SIDE NOTE: Upon doing research on how to sex chicks, I found this on YouTube that breaks my heart.  This is how our first 6 chicks were handled before getting to Tractor Supply, and then to us.  No wonder one died within 24 hours!  I am now fully convinced that we will not be getting any more chicks from a hatchery of any sort.

Have you ever had a broody hen?
What was your experience?

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