We’ve been keeping chickens for a little over a year now. And as thus, the last year has been filled with plenty of firsts. Part of the motivation for this blog is to document some of those endevours.
About 5 weeks out go I started to notice one of my Black Copper Marans acting, shall we say, differently. Hiding in one of the nesting boxes almost every time I’d go to find her. And once found, instead of skirting away like normal, she puffed up and made a sort of grumbling noise.
Now just a quick heads up. I am a bit of an information and reasearch junkie. I confess I can get myself involved in a lot of projects, many of which are seemingly out of nowhere. But I can confidently state that I never get involved in anything without first ample amounts of reasearch. I like to feel prepared. So it didn’t take long for me to suspect Magpie (we named her Maggie) had gone broody (meaning she wants to be a mama). Her plucked belly feathers sealed the deal on that matter.
And what does a reasearch junkie do when confronted with something new? We research even more, of course! Dave and I spent the first couple of weeks politely escorting her out of the nesting boxes and quickly collecedt the day’s eggs before she could horde them. We moved her to a roosting bar at night, but the little obstinate brat kept it up and returned diligently to a nesting box.
Fun facts about a broody hen:
- A broody hen is a moody hen.
- Going broody can be very hard on a chicken as she neglects her own needs to tend to her eggs. Without any relief broodiness can possibly last months.
- The group of eggs a broody hen sits on is called a clutch.
- She plucks her belly feathers in order to create the perfect incubation environment while sitting on her clutch. Both temperature and humidity levels are extremely important to maintain for a fertile egg.
- A broody hen isn’t picky about which eggs she sits on. Which is why certain breeds of chickens more apt to go broody are often used as surrogate mothers for other breeds of chicks and even other species of eggs (such as duck eggs)!
More research suggested the surest and fastest route to breaky a broody hen is let nature run its course; let her be a mama. With the help of a favorite Facebook group, we located 4 fertilized eggs for her to sit on. I think she knew they were hot with life because her broody duties took on a whole new and profound seriousness. Which made the results of our experiment all the more heartbreaking. You see, the other hens are some real bitches. They became obsessed with poor Magpie, bullying her nonstop. With a few really cold evenings and a strong uncertainty that she was able to remain on the eggs throughout the nights, we determined the eggs defunct after they never hatched.
Our new friend who gave us the fertilized eggs was gracious enough to give us a new batch to try again. But by this point, Miss Maggie seemed to be over her bloodiness. And we were hellbent on not letting this batch suffer a similar fate. So bring on the incubator!
Spoiler alert: they hatched! Though not without any drama. The suspected due date was the 9th of the month (incubation times are 21 days, giver or take a day). They didn’t start to hatch until the 11th of the month! I practically don’t have finger tips anymore from the incessant nail biting!
We had five eggs in the incubator. Three hatched yesterday. The other two eggs will be given a couple extra days in hope they’re just late bloomers. A video of third chick making her debut to the world will follow this post.