Today I open the coop to this mess.
How exactly did they get an egg in the fount?
The fount is in there for the determined broody who was settled in. I thought I’d try out letting her set in the coop. It’s not going well.
My Silkies are trying. Very trying.
The last of my originals are the good rooster and the little white hen, who is smaller all the time (shrinking)- a little wraith of a chicken- but still feisty, cranky, and laying. The other hens are all former chicks, hatched last year, who are now trying to figure out how to become mother hens, but are rather bad at it and do not accept instruction.
First they all went broody one after the other, in March. A little early, Missy’s, but, if you must… They decided to pile up together right at the top of their ramp, a small-brained decision. Eggs roll, after all. And the roosters would step on them on their way into the coop.
Then, the egg-thieving began. These Slkies are champion egg thieves. It’s an ongoing problem. At first, the let-no-egg-go-untended ethos seemed good, as when any of the sisters left for a drink or a quick bite, her eggs were promptly grabbed and tucked under a hot furry chicken breast.
Curious how they moved eggs around as they obviously, frequently do, I’d wondered about their egg-rolling methods until I saw them do it, right under my hands. It turns out the beak and the egg are perfectly adapted to each other when it comes to rolling. I was shuffling irritated hens around to see what was under them, an egg came into sight, and whisk! The hen (in my hands) stretched out her beak and flick-rolled that egg into her own collection as fast as a blink. OK, then!
So these broody sisters were playing egg-snatchers, and sometimes a hen would have no eggs, another would have too many. The egg arms race.
I tried to move three of the most committed birds into a shared broody box (still in the coop), but they were having none of it. Two escaped the box and returned to their original precarious choice (top of the ramp), leaving one heroically topping a mound of abandoned eggs.
I was reluctant to take any of them out of the coop because it seems cold to be away from the familial body heat.
I let them have it their way. It did not go well. Eggs vanished. One hen decided to set a clutch way too big for her under the ramp, and when I culled her holdings she restored her stock from who-knows-where.
Eventually all the hens but one gave up and moved on with another phase in their lives. That one, so determined, sat and sat. She’s a classy polite little brown lady, like her mom the first brown hen. When it went far too long for anything to be alive under her, I took and broke her eggs, and sadly, half of them were almost finished before they died. I don’t know why; there must have been some event. The others were horribly rotten, gah!
She’s so fixed though (I’m hatching a damn egg if it’s the last thing I do!), that I gave her four new eggs, and, worried for her body weight, her own snack bar, which I think she ignores but the other hens polish off.
A few days later, I was tucking fresh hay around her and peeked- seven eggs! Sigh, here we go. I suppose she’s taking them from the other side of the coop where the other ladies are laying and leaving these days. I have to watch these little birds, but they do not make it easy to help them.
(just after this I resorted to sequestering each hen with about seven eggs in a box of her own in the greenhouse, and the Silkie population is now burgeoning)