In my recent post Broodiness in the Coop, I wrote about how Henrietta (my Buff Orpington) is in a persistent state of broodiness … She has become so obsessed with entering motherhood that she spends her entire day sitting in a nesting box dreaming of her own flock of little chicks. When I physically remove her from the box, she takes a quick drink of water, eats a small amount of feed and runs back to her imaginary eggs. She has, in fact, stopped laying her own eggs and has completely devoted all her energy toward hatching these nonexistent (unfertilized) eggs. I haven’t yet tried any of the tips I suggested to break her broody state, but I was very intrigued by some of the comments of the readers of my post. One reader told how their Buff Orpington adopted a flock of 5-week-old chicks and another wrote about how their broody Ancona accepted a black silkie as her baby.
|3-week old, motherless chicks…|
Henrietta went broody one week after I purchased three new chicks, and I’m wondering if just seeing the little ones caused her to long for motherhood. I decided I would try the suggestions of the above readers and see if Henrietta might adopt my 3-week-old chicks. I figured that putting them together would have one of four possible consequences:
- Henrietta would adopt these little chicks and create the perfect blended family.
- After spending some time with the youngsters, she would decide that motherhood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and would go back to being a happy free-ranging hen.
- She would torment and peck the little chicks to death …
- She would completely ignore the chicks and continue to brood.
I put Henrietta in the chicken tractor with the 3-week-old chicks and watched to see her reaction. I really didn’t worry about Henrietta harming the young girls: She has never shown any signs of aggression toward anyone or anything … but with her emotional state it could still be a possibility.
The results of this test after one day were a little disappointing. The young chicks were intimidated by the large, puffed-up noisy hen, and Henrietta couldn’t care less about these little pullets. At the end of the day, I let her out of the tractor and she made a beeline for the coop and her beloved nesting box. I’m going to continue putting them together for another week or so. Even if she doesn’t adopt the chicks, she isn’t satisfied with the nesting box in the tractor and this change of scenery just might break her broodiness.