Successful hatch from a broody hen

Broody hen

One of our cuckoo marans turned into quite a
troublemaker when we moved the flock from the woods to the pasture this
spring.  She kept flying over the fence and showing up in the
garden, even after we
her wings
.  I
knew she wanted to go broody, but after I discovered her spot in the
straw and made it more conducive to laying (adding a
chicken waterer and a dish of food so she
wouldn’t have to leave), she figured that spot was tainted and left
it.  So when the hen stopped showing up entirely a week or so
later, I wasn’t sure whether she’d gone into some predator’s belly due
to wandering the woods without her rooster, or whether she’d finally
found a spot to sit on a clutch of eggs.

Setting hen

“Peep, peep, peep!”
greeted me when I entered the barn on May 23.  The sound helped me
track down our broody hen in a terrible location on slanted, bare soil
up against a hole in the barn wall.  Despite the less-than-perfect
conditions, our cuckoo marans had managed to hatch eight perfect chicks
out of nine eggs.  The dud had rolled away at some point and
gotten too cold to survive.

Hen and chicks eating

Rather than trying to
catch her right away, I moved the dish of food and the waterer to the
hen’s corner.  Unlike our
cochin hen, the marans did moan at me
when I got close the first time, but she quickly realized I was a help,
not a hindrance, and let me approach without attacking.

Hen and chick

Unfortunately, the
marans’ lower aggressive instinct worked against one of the
chicks.  As I was weeding a few days later, I heard squawking from
the barn and ran in to discover we were down to seven chicks.  I
guess it’s necessary to move chicks to a secure location even if they
have a mother hen to watch out for them.

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