Inside a nesting box in this coop resides Henrietta, the broody hen … I should have known this would eventually happen. Buff Orpingtons are famous for their diligence and dedication when it comes to sitting on eggs. The Pickin’ Chicken App (from Mother Earth News) even describes an Orpington as a “Mommy wannabe!”
Even so, I was still surprised that the mother instinct seemed to happen overnight, and it doesn’t appear that her hormonal drive to be a mom is going to leave as quickly. In fact, the whole flock is a little on edge now. I’m not sure if it’s because the queen of the roost is broody or if the condition might be contagious. I hope that if I can help Henrietta through this emotional crisis, the mood of the flock will return to normal and they’ll get back to doing what chickens do best: scratch, cluck and lay an egg …
*Constantly sitting in the nesting box. Only leaving briefly to eat, drink and excuse herself …
*She becomes very protective of her eggs. Some chickens will even become aggressive if you try to move them from the nest.
*When she does get off the nest, she may puff out her feathers and fight with the other hens; strutting about and making clucking noises.
*She might pluck feathers from her breast to line the nest and keep the eggs closer to her warm body.
Inside my coop, I have three nesting boxes: one is all that is needed for four to five chickens, but my chickens always use the same box. I think they have a schedule worked out on who lays an egg at what time of the day. Now that Henrietta is constantly occupying their favorite box, the other hens are reluctantly moving on to one of the other boxes. If I remove the eggs under Henrietta, then she just moves to another box after that chicken has laid an egg. She wants to be a mom so badly that she will even sit in an empty nesting box!
Here’s a few tips to break the broodiness:
*Collect eggs from the nesting boxes everyday (even the ones she’s sitting on).
*Remove her from the coop at least a couple of times during the day.
*Try replacing one of the eggs she’s sitting on with an ice cube or ice pack.
*Isolate her from the coop. Move her to a pen without a nesting box.
*Wait it out, she’ll eventually give up in 2-6 weeks …
*If possible, allow her to hatch a few chicks and be the mom she’s longing to be!
At this time, I’m just physically removing Henrietta from the nesting box several times during the day. She’s never shown any signs of aggression toward me, but she does display her feathers proudly and clucks in protest. And … each time I take her out of the coop, it only takes her a few minutes and she heads back to her nest of imaginary eggs. I recently purchased a few new chicks to add to the flock. If I would have known that I was going to have a broody hen, I would have opted for fertilized eggs instead. Poor Henrietta … She would have made a wonderful mother.
To see what else is happening on our Southwest Missouri property, visit …the garden-roof coop.