Tag Archives: broody hen

Dawn in the chicken dome

I’ve changed the dynamic in the greenhouse these days by moving the little hens out of the teenager house and into the big coop.  Every night I reach into the teenager house, gropw around and pull out the four hens and Yin and Yang, put them in the big coop and leave the roosters.

Hopefully they’ll learn to go in the big coop by themselves soon.  Then I leave the roosters locked up until last in the morning, after the hens have had priority seating at breakfast.  The boys have an entirely different attitude, now that most of the birds are already about their business when they come out.  They don’t act so important.Yin and Yang and a young white hen aren’t sure about how to get out of  the coop in the morning either.Mushroom run!  She’s got a mushroom and just wants to eat it in peace.  (The lads are still locked up in the frat house there) A few guineas on their fave hay tower.

Brown Bonnet is outside now, in the Chickery 2.0.  She already has an avid suitor.  I’ll be your baby daddy! 

At night she goes in the box with the brood, and we close the box and carry it into the house, and then back in the morning.  The chicks are still so little, I don’t want it to be too much of a strain on her to keep them warm.They’re under her here, but all you can see are a couple little feet sticking out.

House chicks!

There’s a cheeping box in the house!  It’s a big box, big enough to have an inner box cave, where the chicks like to hang out in the dark all day.Three little chicks:)

Freshly washed

This one is Brownie, HW’s favorite, who was hatched first, with a little help.  This is the most vigorous and  adventurous chick, but oddly, it’s been getting pasted butt.  I’ve never known a hen-raised chick to get pasted butt.  I thought the mother hen was proof against it somehow.   While I was gone HW was washing chick butts (he really likes this chick), and today I had the pleasure. It’s a lifesaving necessity for pasted butt.

It takes a while to gently soak and wash, and mama freaked out a bit at the absence of her first-hatched.  She jumped up on the side of the box, then thought better of the mission and hopped back down in.Lowering Brownie back in.

She’s got a chick growing out of her cheek!

Chick warming

I would like a warming and to eat, please

 

I’m a cozy chick!

The two white chicks are alive and well.  Recently released from the chickery:Major Fowler has been dying for her incarceration to end, paying tribute and bowing from the wrong side of the mesh.

They reintegrated very well, Snow White immediately bringing her chicks up into the coop, which she seemed very happy to return to.   I’m ready to be in my own bed, and warm for a change!  Only two days of chick ramp shenanigans before they were following mom in on their own.  They’re never sorry to be picked up and tucked in a coat.This one was snatched up for a photo shoot and contented to be pocketed for a warming.  They always have surprisingly cold feet. I’ve got wings!!

Broody kennel

I have a broody hen (she’s lost her marbles, didn’t get the winter memo), so I built her a new special broody box for her own comfort and safety, out of hardware cloth, with a plywood base.  A lobster trap meets a mailbox:First I put in a piece of foil, to reflect her heat on her eggs.Then cardboard.Then a “nest” of hay. A clutch of eggs (her eggs-I actually did the transfer very quickly from where she was setting in the main coop)A wall of hay bales around her, liberal hay underneath her box, and canvas for drafts and darkness (now it’s a covered wagon). There she is, settling in, front “mailbox” door shut.  The first thing she did was throw a tantrum and knock over her dishes, but then she saw her eggs and simmered down.Naturally I had the usual helpers, doing anything in the GH:

Is that…Aluminum foil?

What, is it arts and crafts time?!

All done and closed up.  Completely safe from any ground predators, just like the birds that get shut in their coops at night.

Now she gets breakfast in bed, in her prairie schooner.  I plan to make a series of reusable kennels, for the broody hens next year.  The cardboard box has many limitations.  This is the right size for the first few days after hatching, when the chicks start to eat, but don’t go very far, and then they will go into the chickery after that.Snow White and her two white chicks lounging in front of the broody kennel installation on a warm day.

Inevitable, perhaps.

The temperature dropped over the holidays to “very cold!”, and I brought her and her mailbox into the house.  She lives in the mud room now.  I candled her eggs and they seem to be alive.

If she’s so determined to sit on eggs in the winter, well, we’ll try and give her a shot at success.

We’re gonna have house chicks!

All well

Let’s shake the hen and see who falls out?Phew!  There’s two!  The crushed egg chick made it, and is totally fine.  It doesn’t always turn out that way.

There’s three.  The youngest is a brown one.  So tiny.  It’s inside the box, cheeping.  Hey, it just got cold! Mom responsibly goes back in her box to sit on it. And the other two chicks find their way in.

Later we got rid of the box.  That’s too cramped for her to be going in and out of.

 

Winter chicks…

The tell-tale shell!  It’s so cool how the chick unzips the egg much like we would take the lid off a hard-boiled egg.

Snow White was all about rolling her eggs out of the nest today.  She probably knows something I don’t, but I gave her reject eggs to Heather, in the duplex next door.

There’s the chick!  All of them spilling out of the box.

There was another chick as well, partially hatched, but her egg was crushed like it had been stepped on, as if being in an egg isn’t cramped enough.  The membrane was drying out, so the chick was in trouble.  The membrane that keeps them alive in the egg can kill them when they are hatching,  if it dries out.  It becomes stiff and adheres to skin and eyes.  I’ve seen a couple of chicks die during hatching because they couldn’t break that membrane or worked too slow and the membrane suffocated them.  That’s gross and sad.  But this chick, I rapidly grabbed it and peeled it, Cheep!  Cheep!, and popped it back under the dark hen belly.   It was alive but not necessarily well, so I don’t know if it will make it to tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to moving the broodery to a fresh spot and making it all clean for the chicks to grow up in for a week or two.  It’s pretty messy from two hens pooping for a full term.

Everyone else is well.After a year naked, Jean Jacket is sprouting a lot of feathers on her wings, which is excellent.  She must be enjoying her fleece jacketExcept the black really shows the dirt!

There’s the keet in the corner, up on the keet highway.  The keet is very active now, a big hopper and it can fly some too.

Time to groom! Everyone at once now.

 

Feelin’ broody

In the late 80s, there was a hair styling product called Mudd.

This hen saved her money and went with the Mud with one D.  Her hair is nearly dreaded.

Well, I’ve got another broody hen.  A bit late, but that’s ok.  I’ve had November chicks before.  Two Silkie hens failed to brood this year (psst, I think they’re defective), but this is a proven mom. Tomorrow I’ll have to box her.

I wonder if this is the lady who lunches.  I suspect it is, because both moms are usually front and center in the GH come feeding time.

*Yep, it’s the one who leaves her eggs to eat.  The eggs were abandoned this morning at breakfast time, but I felt them- still hot.  Except for the risk of not getting back on the right eggs, this makes sense.  At the end of a brood, she won’t be starving and depleted.  And cranky.  Especially if she’s running her heater in the early winter.

Eggery

I thought the hens would go broody like bowling pins, but not so; they’re all having too much fun outside.  Now the first two hens have chicks out in the wild, nearly grown up, another is finally broody (Only three more yet to brood this year!).  She has Silkie eggs under her, for a change, to replenish the flock (I sold more than I meant to).

Most times when a hen goes broody she sits on the eggs and doesn’t get up.  I can put them in a cramped box with a water cup and snack bowl and they don´t budge until the eggs crack.

This hen is different.  I was sure she was broody, but I kept seeing her outside every mid-morning for an hour or so.  I gave her some eggs, and thought that would change, but six days later, she was faithful to her eggs…as long as she had a breakfast break.  Different.

So I repurposed the vacant chickery, and made a hen apartment in the greenhouse. 

It´s like a little suite.  She has her dark egg room, but she can come out for a drink and scratch, or a dirt bath if she wants.  She even has her own sunflower for a houseplant.  It’s draped over with some canvas to keep it cooler.

Plus there will be no transfer when the eggs hatch.  They will already be in the chickery and just get moved outside.

She’s SO in the zone.  You’d never guess she will shake off that trance for awhile every day,  then return.

Yes, they are fine to get off their eggs periodically, even for hours, especially in the summer.  Brief cooling may even be good for them.  The hen knows best.

 

Chickery II

From Oct 14

Well, the chickery is definitely occupied, by the mom of seven, but the chicks of the mom-of-three are coming up, and they must go outside.

I thought Well, I have this big box, I can turn the flaps out and set it on the grass…img_4454

Doesn’t look so big once the birds are in it.img_4456

She does not appear impressed with the real estate.

So I upgraded.  Two boxes.  img_4459

Much better.  They are next door to Chickery I.img_4460All’s well in there.

 

More Silkie chicks

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So cute, little blunt wings and variegated colouring

Another box has started peeping – the peeping in that end of the greenhouse is my first clue there’s been a hatching.  Mother hen is maintaining eye contact from the background. 20160720_122004

This summer, except for the only chick,  the hens have all hatched 5 or 6 chicks from 7 or 8 eggs, and if there’s an odd number, it’s to the advantage of white.  The white hen (only one, of two, has gone broody), is a terrible setter (three times failed) while the brown hens are all models of success, although none of them have ever done it before.  All the brown hens are last summer’s chicks – baby pictures.  But the whites seem to get their eggs in the right place, like cuckoos.20160720_122013

This is the strenuous objection pose.  They press their wings down into the floor as a barrier so hard their body tips up until they practically do a headstand.

The Chick Cycle, and Hen-in-a-box

First comes the broody hen.  Usually I find her staunchly defending her post on at least twenty eggs, spread out like a feather pancake futilely trying to cover them all.

They have no restraint. That’s why she goes in the box.  I let her keep seven or eight eggs, and make up a bunk with hay and a glass of water and a dish of food.  At times I have three boxes all lined up. 20160620_072455In there each hen “sleeps” in her broody trance uninterrupted except for getting her vittles refreshed.

Then they hatch.  Immediately, I move the whole family and unhatched eggs into a fresh box.  That broody box has all poop and spilled feed and water under the hay, so they need a clean box to start life in.  I find it takes two days usually for all the birds to hatch, and the chicks take it easy those first couple days, spending their time dozing under mom, transitioning to life outside the shell.

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Then the chicks decide to pop out from underwing, and start hopping around, jumping in the water and stuff.  They get another day or two in a more sizable box, with room to run around and spill all the food.  Sometimes the hen is still sitting on an egg, but she will very soon give it up and start mothering.

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Next they go into the indoor playpen, which is just a big box opened up against the screen door for ventilation, and arranged on the greenhouse floor, which is dirt, of course, and a layer of wood chips.  Now the mom will start to teach chicken life skills.  20160723_070037Scratching, drinking.  20160723_06581420160723_065756The beak sweep, the beak wipe.20160704_072546

And of course, the dust bathing.

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20160723_06590220160723_065953 20160723_065922She can see the world out there through the screen door.

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After a few days in the playpen, then they all go in the chickery.

20160728_095915 20160728_095921 Whoohoo!  Grass!  This is a frabjous day.  20160728_095948

At night, I have to lift all the chicks and mom into a box and shut them in the greenhouse overnight, for safety.  In the morning, I carry a cheeping box back outside and empty it into the chickery.

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Hey!

This hen thinks I’ve slept in too long, and it’s high time that they get let outside.

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Hey!!

 

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HEY!

Eventually, after a week, two, or more, or single parenting, the family will be put into Silkieland with the main flock. 20160720_142501 I have to say, it’s working great.  Waiting until the chicks are older to put them in the coop avoids the daily in and out woes.  Their little chicken brains are developed enough after the chickery daycare  to learn how to go in and out quite rapidly.

The Only Chick

The latest broody hen hatched out just one chick.

Unfortunately, she decided she was NOT done sitting on the rest of her eggs, and insistently refused to get up and start mothering, for several days (!).

I attempted to adopt the lone chick into the clutch that hatched four days earlier.  Four days makes a difference – the newer chick is significantly smaller.  I moved the chick in the night and put her under the other hen, but in the morning, I saw the hen pecking the intruder on the head!  Yikes!  Adoption not successful.

What to do?  Take the eggs away?  That could mean killing chicks that are almost baked, as the setting hens usually seem to know when their eggs are alive or not.

Luckily, the mother finally got up off  her eggs and got about the business of early chick education.

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The only chick and mother in the chick cycle rotation.  Upgrade to the chickery.

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I go to put them out in the morning, and she’s laid an egg!  This hen is so ready for more chicks.

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I love this stage where they get a little puff for a tail