After keeping chickens for almost a year now, we’ve had many varied and unusual experiences. We’ve had losses to predators, funky and misshapen eggs, molting, and hatching (all par for the course and to be expected), but we’ve also had to hand-hatch chicks that couldn’t break out on their own (didn’t really see that one coming). What we’re now seeing for the first time is a broody hen.
Molly is our Bantam Splash Cochin hen. About ten months ago, we found Molly and her brother/friend/baby daddy, Huck, at a Poultry Swap and couldn’t resist getting them. They looked like this:
We were told they were both hens, which was what we’d wanted. As they grew, it was clear that they were not both hens, as Huck’s plumage became quite beautiful, his comb and wattle more vibrant, his crow clear, and his egg-laying absent.
Then, about a week ago, Molly started sitting. We weren’t completely surprised because Cochins are famous for being fantastic brooders. If any of our hens was going to go broody, Molly was the prime candidate.
She was on an egg in our mud room. Our chickens lay all over the place, but we’ve gotten them down to three primary locations: the hay bales in the garage/barn, the milk crates in the mud room, and (gasp!) the nesting boxes in the coop. When everyone else retired to the coop one evening and she wasn’t there, we realized she might be broody, so we let her be. We closed the mud room door to protect her from predators and went to bed. The next morning, she was gone. We waited to see if she was just eating or relieving herself, but she wasn’t. She just wasn’t going to sit that egg after all.
A few days ago, she did it again. She was on an egg for about six hours. I looked at her and thought, “fool me once…” and took the egg from under her, assuming she would repeat the same behavior as before. I was wrong.
She is still sitting there. Today is the third day and now she has three eggs under her, none of them hers. We set her up with some food and water nearby and have marked the crate “Leave Please” so that no one collects the eggs in her absence. She’s only gotten up once since she started to sit these eggs, so this time, I think she means it.
At one point, one of our Rhode Island Reds needed to lay. She wanted to lay in the mudroom, but both crates were full. Instead of finding another location, she climbed into Molly’s crate and laid the egg right next to her.
It was totally obnoxious.
I was able to grab the freshly-laid egg before Molly could tuck it underneath her. I have since marked Molly’s three eggs with a washable marker so that I can determine her eggs from the ones I can collect.
In the meantime, the other hens are dutifully laying eggs we can eat and some of them are actually doing it in the chicken coop. Go figure.