Broody hen experiment

Our ramshackle brood coopEven though a hatch rate of 9% is nothing to
cheer about, I’m content with our
broody hen

This is only our second attempt, and each time we’re learning something
new and important.  Hopefully our third try will result in
numerous chicks.

What did we learn this
time around?  We’ll be building a new brood coop where the nest
box is on or close to the ground.  We nearly lost our chick on
Sunday due to a sudden deluge which sent the hen fleeing for cover into
her nest box and the chick stranded on the ground — it had followed
its mother out of the nest to forage but couldn’t figure out how to hop
back in.  Hopefully the new brood coop will also be in a location
that’s not directly under the runoff from the barn roof — oops.

Automatic chicken waterer for a broody henI also plan to start giving the hen food and
water within the nest box itself.  She is a very good brooder,
which means she only hops off the nest once a day to feed and hydrate
herself.  When the chick hatched, I moved the waterer up into the
nest box, and our hen was so thirsty that she drank over a cup in one
sitting!  Why have a
spill-proof chicken waterer if we’re not going to put it
to the perfect use, placing it directly in the brood box so the hen can
drink without getting her eggs wet?

Finally, I’ll plan my
next brood experiment further in advance.  We clearly lost the
majority of our eggs because it took too long for the hen to decide to
sit on them.  Next time, I’ll put the cochin in the brood coop
with a nest full of golf balls and get her settled a day or two before
I introduce the fertilized eggs.  I suspect the result will be a
much better hatch rate.

We’re going to let our
hen raise her lone chick, but once it’s “weaned”, we’ll start broody
hen experiment number 3.  Stay tuned!

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