May 10, 2015

Me Versus the Chickens -Or- Who Outsmarted Whom?

My sad news is that my broody hen has abandoned her nest! I've never had a Buff Orpington do that before. They are usually champions at brooding and mothering. I don't know if it was the nest shuffle, the other hens, or what, but I suppose it falls under my category of a first time for everything. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind, but I have 16 Black Australorp chicks ordered to be ready for pickup at the end of the week! I suppose I'll have to dust off the ol' brooder lamp.

One other thing I did recently, was deciding to not let them out to free range so early in the morning. I'm not getting a whole lot of eggs from my flock of older hens, and was getting tired of having to hunt all over for those few. Since we enlarged their yard when we opened the new coop, I figured they could stay in the yard until later in the morning. I hoped I'd get more eggs in the nest boxes. Instead, egg production dropped to about three per day for 15 hens. Good thing I have replacements on the way.

The other day I was on my way into the coop to fill their feeder, when I saw one of my Speckled Sussex crawl out from under the nest boxes. Aha!


Could it be that my broody hen had simply moved? Alas no. There is apparently just a waiting line for this most prized new spot.

My haul was nineteen eggs and all of them were still good. Quiche, anyone?

29 comments:

Farmer Barb said...

Then there is the bell-on-the-leg trick. This involves a hair band with a little jingle bell on it so you can hear them even when you can't SEE them...

Chris said...

I told you hens love to lay in dark places, lol. ;)

Mama Pea said...

We've never had much luck with any chicken going broody except our bantam hens. We have only two right now and one has a clutch of eggs under her, but no hope for more bantam hens from this batch as our bantam rooster met his demise last fall. We ordered new chicks last year but won't this spring. We try to keep starting new chicks (other than any that might be hatched out here) to every other year. We have under a dozen laying hens and are currently getting oodles of eggs. They have "free range" in a really big fenced in pasture and woods but (knock on wood) have never had problems with them laying out of the hen house.

Amy Dingmann said...

It's funny you say that about Buffs because we'd heard they were excellent for going broody and hatching out chicks, and every Buff we've ever had would sit on nest for 14 days and then abandon it - like clockwork. Maybe they need to read the awesome things that are said about them? Our chickens have the five acres to wander on and then sometimes meander into the surrounding fields. They go in spurts of hiding their eggs. Right now (knock on wood) they are laying where they are supposed to...but sometimes it's a game. I do have a friend who doesn't let her chickens out to free range until after noon when they have laid for the day and it seems to work really well for her. Good luck! :)

tpals said...

I have two broody right now and hope they last until the next batch in the incubator hatches.

Leigh said...

Kind of like putting a bell on a cat or goat collar, LOL

Leigh said...

Chris, the worst part is that, as soon as I discovered it, they abandoned it!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I've heard Bantams make wonderful mothers. I'm hoping to eventually not have to buy chicks anymore. Hopefully the Australorps with be the breed!

Leigh said...

Amy, good to hear from you! Very curious about your Buffs! I've had mine go over 21 days if nothing hatched. Either way it's always better to know where the eggs are. :)

Leigh said...

tpals, I hope so too! So much better to have a real mama hen involved.

PioneerPreppy said...

Chickens don't seem to last long around here unless they are kept on a pretty short leash one way or another. Between the possum, coons, hawks, eagles, coyote and foxes even slightly free range chickens are gone fast. We had a duck that managed to survive for a few years once but he was a crafty one and even he eventually got eaten. Never made it long enough with a chicken to see what they would do when broody.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

Is your chicken looking for a hiding place to avoid the other chickens? What if you hung a burlap bag over each box to give them darkness and a hiding place would they still lay in the boxes?

Kirsty Udall said...

As we don't hatch any eggs I'm always trying to stop mine getting broody or they disturb everyone else laying and I get eggs laid everywhere but the box.

Gill - That British Woman said...

oh dear me, I hope things work out for you. I am making quiche this week as well.

Chris said...

That says to me, they're following their natural instincts. In nature, they would abandon a nest that was uncovered by predators too. As much as they love you, their eggs always go missing when you're around. ;)

I wonder if things would change if you got another rooster? The perceived added security. I don't know if it would help, but they're following their natural instincts as hens to abandon a nest. If a boy is hanging around, they may think its safer to stick with the original nest a little longer?

Quinn said...

My egg production has been variable, and I wonder if it is because of the very sudden, very hot weather here. Or, if they are laying out somewhere, like under the barn, where I will never find the eggs. Maybe I'll find out, because just Saturday I reluctantly had to corral my hens in a small fenced area by the Poultry Palace, until I can make a bigger fenced area for them OR fence in all the garden beds. New plant growth is no match for five determined hens!

Ed said...

I've never thought of this before but now that I think about it, a lot of the old timer chicken houses had second entrances to collect eggs. Most had doors behind the boxes that flopped open to allow someone to collect the eggs while the chickens were outside. I always thought that this was for convenience of not having to go inside the main hen house but perhaps it is so the chickens wouldn't see you and thus continue laying where you want them too instead of switching their nests up.

Karen@ onthebanksofsaltcreek.com said...

My Ameraucanas seem to always be broody. Either that or they are just lazy. I don't want chicks yet. Still trying to figure out "farm life". I may try to buy some babies in August. Just depends on if others want them and the store can get the minimum number of chicks to place the order.

Carolyn said...

We've only had a few hens go broody, and they usually end up crushing or somehow killing the hatchlings. AND....they always go broody in the corner of the barn in the middle of the summer when it's over a hundred degrees....the eggs end up cooking before they hatch.

Harry Flashman said...

My chickens are free range. They lay in specific places. I can usually find the nests by wandering around with my old Labrador. She knows where all the nests are, because I encourage her to eat the eggs. So she has a routine, she goes and checks her "spots" very carefully. It's funny to watch her. On our porch are two big ceramic pots the hens like to lay in. Tuggy will go lay down in front of a pot with a hen in it, and wait for an egg. Sometimes she waits in vain but often the hen will lay and Tuggy picks up the egg, carries it to her favorite resting place under the porch swing, and sets it down. She guards it from the other dog and eats it at her leisure

Leigh said...

Sounds like you have a lot of predators! That would be extremely tough for free ranging. I would probably try a chicken tractor, although I know foxes are good at digging under barriers. It would be hard to do without eggs, unless there was a neighborhood barter of some sort.

Leigh said...

Sandy, I have no idea why that spot became the place to lay, but as soon as I found it they all went back to the nest boxes and hay feeder. Go figure!

Leigh said...

Kirsty, I only wish someone else had gone broody, because I have chicks due to arrive tomorrow or the next day and they need a mom!

Leigh said...

Gill, it may be the old brooder lamp, I'm afraid. So much better when the have a mother, but oh well.

Leigh said...

I think weather makes a big difference, whether too hot or too cold. Chickens can be murder on a newly emerging garden! Literally.

Leigh said...

Ed, I've seen little doors on the new coop designs, but also thought it was for convenience. It would be interesting to experiment to see if you are right!

Leigh said...

Interesting. I never had an Ameraucana go broody. But then, chickens have minds of their own. :)

Leigh said...

Carolyn, that would be annoying! So far I've only had one chick meet an accidental death by being crushed by its mama hen. Hopefully that's it!

Leigh said...

Well, that's free, healthy food for your dog! I feed some of our extras to our pigs. Most critters seem to love raw eggs.