I should start a new joke series: “You know you’re a legit chicken owner when…when a hen poops on you, you just wipe it off and call it good.”
Yup. Gross. But it’s more convenient not to care.
We’ve got our first broody hen in the family. She’s been sitting on her nest for about 4 weeks now. Our grand plan was to slip her some chicks to raise, but we’ve been so busy, we haven’t really been around to get it all set up.
For those of you confused, a broody hen is one who is trying to hatch her eggs. In this case, even without a rooster around her instincts tell her, “It’s time…hatch these babies.” So she sits…and sits….and sits some more. Until one day, even as much as 10 weeks later, she realizes it’s not gonna happen and snaps out of it. In the meantime, she gets pretty temperamental. They puff themselves up like a basketball and make a freakish clucking/growl sound. Sometimes pecking at you when you try to collect the eggs. This is Lyra in a trance in the early morning…she’s puffed up to about half her normal size.
Hens have been known to starve themselves to death because they won’t get off the nest to eat. So, once a day or so, you have to grab them off the nest and put them in the yard, forcing them to eat, drink and poop. We have found that the other hens will sometimes kick her out when they want to lay. She’ll run around the yard, squawking, flapping her wings. She’ll run up to me and grab onto my pant leg with her beak and swing herself around squealing. It’s really quite terrifying actually, haha. Then she’ll dust bathe, eat, poop and growl some more before jumping back in and adopting any newly laid eggs. And yes, we collect the eggs (which for some weird reason I feel bad about) because otherwise they rot. But even with an empty nest…she sits and waits. Here is Lyra in full-blown brood:
But I get it, she’s supposed to be terrifying. She’s being maternal. I just kept wondering why on Earth, would she be such a jerk to the other hens? They’ll walk up to her when she’s out dust-bathing like, “Hey…haven’t seen you in a while. Good to see you out. I’ll join you for a bath.” They’ll attempt to join her and she’ll puff up, squawk and usually get pecked by the other hens. I know she is “protecting” her eggs, but really, the hens aren’t even near the coop! I read that it’s about more than just protection, it’s a hen’s way of preventing chicks from bonding with other hens. So even though Lyra doesn’t have chicks yet, she’s keeping everyone else from joining any bit of the experience. They are her babies and when her chicks hatch, they need to know that.
But eeerrrrr…how to tell her she’s sitting on my breakfast? Well, I’m over it at this point. At first it was fascinating and cute. Now…it just is. Snap out of it Lyra and get back to laying eggs!