Ah the joys of chickens. Everyone thinks they are these precious, sweet, little fluffy pets that present you with breakfast every morning. WRONG-O! Well, sometimes, anyway. I love my hens, they give hours of entertainment as well as breakfast and eventually, dinner. However, there is a ton of work involved with them.
We do not have a rooster and I personally, for reasons of space and cost, do not raise chicks. We start with pullets. At least for now. This summer we had one lady who seemed to be stuck in longing to being a mommy hen. She is an Orphington, her normal name is Skip, but for about 2 and half months it was Crabby Patty. And crabby is an understatement.
In all my years of owning chickens, I have never, ever had a hen stay broody for as long as she did this summer without chicks to care for. She even got to the place where she refused to leave “HER” nest and would push eggs from the other nests for her to sit on them. Then she decided she would bully the younger hens so they wouldn’t even come IN the coop, she parked her fluffy butt at the entrance of the coop and would not move. If you took her off the nest, she would turn right around and plop her butt back in the nest. If you moved her to gather eggs, she would bite you, if a hen came in the coop she would squawk and and attack her. One morning after her coming at me while I was gathering the eggs, I told my husband it was time for the hatchet. Egg production was down and I was beginning to have to play hide-and-seek for some of the eggs in the barn off the side of the run.
Bless my husband’s heart, he told me to give him a try at ‘breaking broody’. I told him, fine, and so he proceeded after his usual deep research.
He used a large kennel cage and placed it in the barn off the run. He placed it on two railings so it was off the ground a wee bit and made sure it had stationary pans for water and food. The barn is well lit but nicely shaded and out of the elements and the other hens walk freely around it. He gently placed Crabby in the cage. We are pretty sure she cussed at him in chicken squawks as he latched the door. The other hens seemed curious as they walked around her. After a while he took her out, and dang gone it, she bee lined it strait for her nest. If another hen was in her spot, she would push them out.
This went on for several days, my husband’s patience is great, so great I call him the Chicken Whisperer. Eventually, one day, we noticed, after being let out of detention, Crabby went and sat on the perch with another hen. Before dusk she walked in and got in HER nest, but she didn’t go strait in.
The next day, she played in the yard with the other hens but still made sure she had HER nest by dusk. This went on for about a week. Now Crabby Patty is back to being Happy Fluffy-butt Skip. Happily playing in the yard and no longer combative with the other ladies, although we have one hen who is still cautious of her.
I had to fess up and say I was wrong for wanting to put Skip on the dinner block and that my husband was Right. Yes, there, in black and white, he was right and in doing so our egg production is back up, the hens are back to using their nesting boxes and everyone is being civil again.
I have been told this breed is more prone to be broody longer and their desire to be a mommy is great. So keep that in mind when getting layer hens if you don’t want to hatch and/or raise chicks.
Until Next Time,
Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice