Signs of broodiness in a hen

Lonely henTwo
weeks ago, one of our Australorp hens
started showing up in a blocked off pasture every morning.  I
searched the fenceline, but found no break, and eventually I just got
used to
letting her into the coop to rejoin her compatriots at feeding
time.  I know our hens can fly over our fences, but they usually
don’t want to, and I figured this hen had some bee in her bonnet about
the closed off pasture and would eventually grow out of it.

The bee in her bonnet
turned out to be the
gallon barrel coop

had made when the Light Sussex were afraid to roost with their
flockmates.  No one really wanted to use the extra little coop at
the time, so it sat
around, full of fresh straw, until our Australorp hen decided to start
laying inside.  She’d already filled the nest annex with eleven
eggs by the time I figured out what was so special about the pasture to
make her willing to fly a fence to reach it.

Clutch of eggsThe hen wasn’t setting on the
eggs yet, but Mark and I both figured her
secretiveness was an early sign of
broody behavior.  So we decided
to move the newly re-named brood coop out of the closed-off pasture to
keep my chicken herding time down and still let the hen access the
eggs.  We set the coop annex outside the main coop where anyone
could reach it, but two hours later, the hen was back in the closed off
pasture, now making a ruckus.  Where had her eggs gone?! 
After two days of this behavior, I gave in and moved the brood coop
back to where the hen had initially found it, and she started laying in
the annex

I was still sick of
herding chickens, so I decided to just shut the
hen into her pasture with a spare
chicken waterer and a little food so
she could go about her business without flying over the fence. 
The result?  She immediately wanted out!  After squawking
like crazy, the other chickens flew over the fence to join her, and I
opened the door to the pasture in frustration.  Let them come and
go as they please!, I decided.  If the grass got eaten down in the
pasture prematurely, so be it.

Broody henOnce
I washed my hands of the situation, the broody hen suddenly decided to
start sitting on the eggs.  Two mornings in a row, she was
hunkered down for several hours, ignoring her sisters who seemed to
want to lay eggs in the front part of the coop annex.  However,
she popped off the nest each afternoon, perhaps because of this crazy
heat wave.  While the broody coop probably seemed nice and sunny
in its exposed location two weeks ago, now the hen risked baking
herself if she sat on the eggs in the afternoon.

Mark and I have tossed
around several potential solutions to the problem.  Option A is to
erect some sort of shade over the broody coop and hope that without the
sun in her face, our hen will settle in and stay on the nest overnight
(which is what Harvey Ussery waits for before deciding a hen is
broody).  Another idea would be to make a broody area inside the
main coop where it’s cool and just shut the hen in for a day or two in
hopes she’ll make the location switch.  What do you think we
should do?

Latest Comments

  1. Suzanne G March 21, 2012
  2. anna March 21, 2012

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