Our Broody Hen

Even with all of the chickens we’ve had over the last 3 years, we’ve never had one go broody. If they did, it wasn’t for long. We’ve had them lay eggs in other places that were not ideal…under the porch, but never broody. We noticed that Smokey was staying a long time in her nesting box and then it became evident that she was in there pretty permanently. We thought we’d take advantage of her broodiness and ordered some fertilized eggs in hopes that she’d hatch them. We have enough chickens that lay eggs for our family and we had ordered four other chickens from another hatchery to picked up in a month, but we have predators and have learned that it’s better to be in a bit of a rotation with the chickens.nThe only original chicken we have left is starting to lay less and less, the new chickens will lay in another four months and the new chicks will lay in another 6 months. See what I mean?

I ordered 3 eggs from My Pet Chicken. I decided to get the “Fun and Funky” breeds because we enjoy weird chickens. The eggs that came were disgusting and instead of 3 there were 7! We waited the 24 hours for them to “settle” and then placed them under the broody hen. She diligently sat on them for weeks. However, she let the other hens push her off the eggs to lay and a few were broken in the process. We candled on day 9, but couldn’t really tell much. We did see some veining and decided to try candling on day 17. On that day we saw a chick in the egg! It was moving around and was pretty neat.

Pipping

The day before hatch day (day 21) I checked on the eggs and saw pipping! A tiny hole in the egg indicating that a tiny chick was ready to come out! How exciting! We had been reading a bit about the actual hatching process and sometimes mama will become homicidal! Sometimes she won’t protect the chicks well if she’s low in the pecking order, which our hen is, so we decided to mover her to the crate, where we’ve raised chicks before and see if the eggs hatched. That evening when we were moving the hen and the eggs, I was carrying the egg with the hole in it and it was peeping! It was unreal to be holding an egg with a live chick inside peeping! All good signs and a few hours later that chick hatched. Mama, thankfully did not freak out and kill the chick and after a day of drying out the chick was hopping around happy as can be, learning to eat and drink, nbd.

Tiny chick with eggs

A couple of days go by and two eggs, still no more chicks. I called up a local-ish farm and ask if they happened to be hatching eggs over the last few days and it turned out, they had a few hatch that morning. We decided to get two more chicks and switch out the eggs, Mama was getting restless, so it was now or never. These two chicks would still be a little funky. They’re called Swedish Flowers an should be black and white.

comforting peeper

We shoved them under mama later that night and she ended up accepting one and rejecting the other. She was pecking at it and it would not stop peeping. We tried again thinking once it was warm under mama it would be good, but no. We have the big chickens in the coop, teenagers in the mini coop and mama and chick in the crate, so there’s no place for this reject chick to go! I cuddled him for a bit so he could rest after his ordeal and we waited a while to let mama sleep. We turned off the heat lamp to make it dark in the crate and a little while later shoved the peeper under and everyone settled down. There was still a little bit of peeping, but mom seemed to accept the chick. Yay!

Peeper

We checked on them a few more times that night and again in the morning and all was well. I came home from school to find the chick pecked almost to death! It was terrible. I feel so incredibly selfish and guilty for bringing this chick to our home only for him to be murdered. There was no saving him, so I put him down. I’m still traumatized, but Mama is continuing to care for the two chicks she accepted, so that’s good, but the fun is a little bit tarnished. I’m reminded again that they are animals, poultry we have for fresh eggs, and a little bit stupid.

Mama and tiny chick

Mama is up and alert now and no longer sitting on eggs. I’m not sure how long she’ll be content in the crate, but the tiny chicks will fit right through the chicken wire in the mini coop! I let them outside while I cleaned their water and food yesterday and the other chickens didn’t attack them which is a good sign. The chicks just followed mama around and when I put them in the teenager coop one chickie popped right through the hole of the chicken wire (which is how I know they need to stay in the crate). It’s an adventure. Some days are better than others.

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