Nearly-broody hen

Hidden eggsIn early March, one of our Cuckoo Marans kept ending up in the garden
in the morning.  At first, I just focused on the scratching damage
and didn’t think through how she was getting there, but then I realized
she was walking through the barn during her morning
constitutional.  A little later, I discovered that the garden was
just a waypoint and that her main goal was to lay an egg in a busted
straw bale inside the barn itself.

This seemed like broody
behavior to me, so even though I blocked off the exit to the garden, I
kept letting the hen tromp through the barn.  In fact, I even put
waterer and a dish of food beside
the nest to make things easier.

Now and then, I’d catch
the hen sitting on the eggs, but she didn’t seem willing to fully
commit — I was just as likely to see her out with the main flock in
the woods.  I let the eggs build up until there were about twenty
there, at which point Mark brought some in for our breakfast. 
Then Lucy broke into the barn and ate the rest — bad dog!

Hen sitting on nest

I’m not sure whether, if
we’d provided a better spot, our hen might have fully made the switch
into broodiness, or if she was just enjoying laying her daily egg
somewhere quiet and warm.  We’re still batting 0 with this broody
hen project, so I’d love to hear about the accommodations you make for
broody hens if you’ve had more success.

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