Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Broody Hen is Busted. . . right?

If you read my post on May 27 you know that my Buff Orpington, Clementine, received the call from the mother ship and entered the mysterious realm of the broody hen. And you may recall that I was concerned because broody hens can actually die on the nest if they don't eat or drink for long enough while sitting on unfertile eggs that will obviously never hatch. And we live in really hot and humid Florida weather, which means they can get dehydrated really quickly.

Clementine's comb and wattles had turned a very light pink and had shrunk dramatically. She rarely left the nest and I hardly saw her eat or drink. We tried putting her in our moveable hoop run, but she just settled down on the grass in one spot and stayed put. I knew it was time to make her a Broody Buster Box.

This required purchasing a cage, so I scoured Craigslist and spent entirely too much on a used blue wire cage. I read that the cage should have a wire bottom and be slightly elevated so air blows under the hen's undercarriage and she loses the urge to sit and get all warm and cozy on a nest. I cut some hardwire cloth to fit the bottom and wrapped it around the side bars so there were no sharp edges. Then I put the cage on two old 2x4s that I found in the yard and shoved her in.

In case you're not aware, chucking a broody chicken in a cage means she will throw her half of your best friends necklace out the window. She was less than thrilled with me when I put her in there and locked the door. She may have growled a bit.

To make sure she had food and water available I grabbed a couple of empty Stonyfield Kids yogurt containers and attached them to the cage with some safety pins. Nothing but high tech and high class here, but it worked!

I put her in the cage in the morning when I let the others out into the run. They stared at her with an "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh what did you do?" look. When it was time to lock the girls up at night, I took her out of the cage and put her straight on the roost. I'd find her the next morning back in her place on the nest.

Wash, rinse, repeat for three days.

This morning instead of finding her on the nest I found her at the door waiting to come out into the run. When I opened the door, she bolted out with the other two and hovered around me waiting for a treat. She didn't even fluff up and hiss at Saffie!

YES! She was no longer broody! She was a regular ole' loveable chicken again!!

Three days in solitary and she was ready to join general population. The jailbird was free! Hallelujah!

She knocked Maggie out of the way for a bite of cottage cheese today. She didn't try to attack the dogs when they sniffed her through the fence. I knew I had broken this broody and made a few phone calls to friends and family to boast about my success.

Then tonight I went out to lock up the girls and dammit if Clementine wasn't back on that nest again. She's a persistent little bugger. I suppose her parole is being revoked tomorrow and she'll be back in the hole for another couple of days. I guess I'll see where she is in the morning.

That's what I get for feeling cocky.


Erin said...

the Naughty Bird Box! Awesome! Glad to hear she is back in business again.

Annie's Granny said...

Spewed my iced tea all over the keyboard. I can always count on you to give me a good laugh. They say laughter keeps you young, so I thank you for extending my life by several years ;-)

Ribbit said...

What a little coniving hen you've got there. She faked you out! Is your air down there as stagnant as ours is with the humidity? Would blowing a fan under her tuchus help lessen the desire to brood?

karen08 said...

I do not have chickens or know anything about them, but your stories never cease to crack me up! Thanks so much for taking the time to share them with us. The pictures help tell the story so well!!!

Kalena Michele said...

Chickens are a very interesting animal. lol

Darla said...

You are one dedicated high tech chicken farmer! How funny, well maybe not for you, but for us..

Kelly said...

Who knew chickens were so complicated?

Ah, and to that gorgeous, gorgeous, canine- oh how I love thee! ;)

Tricia said...

I see a childrens story coming out of this........ the Superior Broody Hen.

I do not have chickens YET but they are on my list of things I want along with 4 or 5 raised veggie beds and lots of organic vegetables, when I move to our house in North Central Florida. I have more expension items on my list like a extending the roof over our porches and puting on a metal roof and a Garage and a Potting/Canning Shed BUT if I can move sooner rather than later I will for go some of those items.

I love the chicken storys and any and all information is greatly appreciated for those of us would be keeper of the Chickens.

DO have a question for you.... Once chicken start laying do they lay eggs for YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS? Like FOREVER until they go into Chicken Menopause?

Keep the info coming.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

What fun times you have! I love the photos of the hens giving the jailbird "the look".

I read on our local community gardens' website, that they have (I think 6 week old) hens for sale for $6.00 each. I'd love to find a spot for one or two, but don't know the first thing about raising them, and I don't think the neighbors would be happy about it. said...

Well we're right smack dab in the middle of chicken broodiness ourselves. It sucks! Our hen Edith has been broody for about a week. We're taking her off the nest and locking her out of the hen house/pen all day long. We've doused her with water b/c someone on backyard chickens said to try it, but nada.
My hubby was going to run a length of fence along one side of our pen and quarantine her over there, but I didn't think about the fact that she may just plop down on a makeshift nest on the ground. hmmm... maybe we can put some fencing on the ground.
How long has Clem been broody now?

Kate and Crew said...

Ribbit - yes, our air is hot and heavy. Florida is the most humid state in the nation. Sucks.

Tricia - writing a children's book is on my "bucket list" and I have a few chicken books up my sleeve! As far as egg laying goes, chickens will lay less and less with each year they mature. Mine lay about once a day now. They'll go to about every other day... then in a year or two they may lay a couple of times a week - then eventually about once a week. Some old hens may stop laying completely or may lay once every few months. It also depends on the type of chicken. Some chickens are not good layers and others are very prolific.

Corner Gardener Sue - just remember if you get chickens to buy 3. They are flock animals and won't be happy alone. If you only get 2 and one dies, you'll have one sad lonely chicken.

jadanford - Clem was broody for a couple of weeks and I was afraid she'd get dehydrated and die. I've never heard of dousing a hen with water to stop her from being broody. The idea is to confine them to a cage with a wire bottom so they can't lay all warm and comfy on the ground and feel broody. It took 3 days in the cage for her to stop being broody. She's started an annoying habit of sleeping on the nest at night now so I'm working on breaking that. Good luck!

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