Thursday, July 05, 2007


One of our hens, Blanche*, has decided that she wants to hatch some eggs, so she's taken to sitting on the nest on some eggs. Her feathers are all fluffed and her head all scrooched down. Whenever I open the door to check on her she sort of coos at me.

The chicken-raising books suggest that I put her back to work laying eggs--they stop laying after they've accumulated a clutch of eggs--by taking away her eggs and shoving her off the nest. If she'd been pecking me viciously (as some of her sisters do when I grab eggs out from under them) I probably would, but instead she lets me stroke her feathers and just clucks and coos softly. How can I shove her off the nest after that?

Broody hens are kind of a remarkable phenomenon: they hatch any eggs that are on the nest, whether they are their own or anyone else's. Some chickens have been to known to hatch and nurture chicks of other species, like ducks or turkeys. Chicken raisers sometimes slide fake eggs under a broody hen, let her sit on them for a few days, then (at night, when she's sleeping) gently push day-old chicks from an incubator or the feed store under her--and she'll raise them as her own.

So, if she stays on the nest, we'll need to build a pen for her to raise her chicks in, so we can protect her and the chicks from varmits and the other chickens.

The urge to nurture apparently doesn't require a brain any larger than a smallish pea.

*Since we can't tell them apart, all of the Golden-Laced Wyandottes are named Blanche. All of the Rhode Island Reds are named Stella.


Post a Comment

<< Home