Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I knew something was up when I hadn't seen them scratching and pecking by mid-morning. Usually, upon waking, I stand at the living room window and stare blankly toward the chicken coop, watching Daisy and Olivia scrabble after crickets while I slowly come out of my post slumber haze. When they failed to appear, I threw on my flip flops and went out to investigate.

They were in there, both of them, snuggled together in one of the nest boxes,clucking softly. It was wicked hot (as it is most days) and I figured their inactivity was just a way to conserve energy and keep cool. I fed them, made sure the water was full, and left them alone. Later in the day, I saw Olivia hop down and scratch for a while but Daisy stayed put. After three days of this, I started to panic. Neither hen was laying, and it didn't appear that they were eating or drinking much, which could be lethal in the scorching temperatures. What the heck was WRONG with my chickens?

Olivia (left) and Daisy (right)
Despite the fact that they weren't moving around or feasting on the most awesome (and expensive) organic chicken feed I provide for them, they seemed okay. Their eyes were bright, their feathers fluffy. And hit me like a ton of bricks. Broody. My hens had gone broody! I rushed outside. Olivia was on the ground, pecking happily but Daisy was still holed up in the nest box. I reached gently toward her and she puffed up to twice her size, let out freaky, growly chicken noise and proceeded to peck the ever loving snot out of me. In the process, three eggs rolled out from underneath her.

Daisy with her feathers in a ruffle....literally!
 Daisy, it seems, is bound and determined to hatch some eggs, regardless of the fact she has no baby daddy (a rooster) and her eggs are far from fertile. I thought at first that both hens had gone broody but upon further inspection, it seems Olivia is acting as a midwife of sorts, protecting Livy and her eggs, growling, flapping, and pecking at me as if the the clutch beneath her feathered brethren is her own. According to the book Keeping Chickens by Jeremy Hobson, I was to lift the hen off the nest, remove the infertile eggs and put her in a "broody coop" which is basically a wire mesh box designed to make her uncomfortable enough to snap her out of her broodiness and to air her birdy netheregions. Apparently, broody birds have elevated body temperatures to incubate their eggs. Cooling their incubating parts up and around their feathery undercarriages also helps to discourage broodiness.

With gloves on and guard up, I removed a very unhappy hen from her nest with only minimal pecking injury to my upper extremities. I removed four eggs from her nest. I don't have a broody coop to put her in and I'm hoping the gentle desert breeze will be enough to cool her feathers. Perhaps I'm being naive...this is my first experience with chickens and I'm learning as I go. But as of this morning, she was down and out of the nest box, scratching with Olivia. Only time will tell if she's truly past her baby fever. I know how she feels...poor thing!

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  1. I hope she snaps out of it that quickly!!! My broody can hang on for 5-6 weeks, leaving the nest at most once a day. I always collect the eggs from underneath her and sometimes push her out into the run. I answered your questions about getting her laying again over at my site. Good luck!

  2. Not fun. Hope it ends quickly. Visiting from the hop.


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