Well, it’s that time of year! Love is in the air, the skies are blue, the temperatures are soaring and mother nature has gotten the better of another hen. Bellatrix, queen of the roost, has gone broody. This means she has stopped laying and started trying to incubate her eggs.
How do you know when a hen is broody? Well, there are two mains signs:
1.) She cannot be coaxed out of the nesting box for ANY reason.
2.) She plucks her belly feathers.
There are other signs as well; she will stop laying, her temperature will rise and she will only get up once a day to eat and drink.
So, naturally, the next question is: What do I do about my broody hen? You CANNOT let her stay broody, it will not ‘go away’ and she will starve/dehydrate herself if it goes on too long. Here are the other options:
1.) “Break” her. There are many methods of this and most not very nice. I don’t have the heart for it myself (I mean she really just wants to be a mommy and doesn’t she have the right?), but here’s a link to more info on how to “break” a broody hen. I chose this link because it has some very humane approaches.
2.) Get her some fertilized eggs and kick your heels back for 21 days while they incubate. I have done this once, and it was very exciting! Unfortunately, my hen hatched a rooster and one baby with such a horrible beak deformity we had to have it put down. Not the ideal outcome.
3.) Trick her. This is the way my husband and I have decided to go this time. It’s pretty simple and saves you (and your hen) lots of time. First, seclude her from the group, preferably in a nice, dark nesting box. Second, put some eggs (or even golf balls) under her. Lastly, after a few days, pick up some sex link chicks of your choice at your local feed barn and, under the cover of darkness, swap the eggs for the chicks. She’ll never know!
Stay tuned and over the next few weeks, I will keep you up-to-date on Bellatrix and her new brood!