Eggs: Broody Hen

In the last weeks before our move from Northern Vermont to “The North Country” in New York we noticed a buff orpington hen was broody. During every egg collection she really wanted to stay on “her” nest of eggs. Other hens would sidle up next to her, squishing themselves in the box – up to three other hens (I promise there were enough nest boxes, but this was the most popular) and lay their eggs. She’d patiently wait and then scoop the new egg under her gently with her beak, turning and twisting the egg to clean it.

She was not very excited about us disturbing her zoned broody state to retrieve the eggs. We wanted her to be able to hatch eggs, how cool would that be? But eggs incubate in three weeks and we were moving in about three weeks. We knew the move would potentially be stressful for the birds and the idea of a coop on wheels rolling down the road with stressed birds and 6-10 chicks seemed unsafe for the tiny chicks. So we faithfully relieved the hen of her egg sitting duty daily and the following day she’d be sitting again, on a new clutch of eggs.

The move did not upset the hens desire to brood.

After a week of settling in somewhat (for us) we decided to set up a corner of a horse stall in our barn for the broody hen. We didn’t need chicks but we were very curious to see how this would turn out.

It’s a short story: a week after setting on her nest in the horse stall we found the nest empty. The hen had decided enough was enough, the chicks weren’t coming, and had run off with the backyard chickens that had been left by the previous owners. We scooped up the motherly hen (this makes it sound much easier than it was, of course) and returned her to her original flock.

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