Broody Hens

This year it seems that more hens than ever have been bitten by the ‘broody bug’.

I was warned that bantams are good mothers and it certainly seems true for mine. As soon as they started laying they hoarded their eggs and wanted to sit on them.

Belinda became a mum in November and I was forced to give her and her babies to a chap who has a ‘teaching farm’ as there was no spare room in the chicken coops.

Then Briony started in the Spring but none of her eggs hatched so I had to buy some two day old chicks for her. They are now living happily with the flock. However, if there are any cockerels,among them Hector will not be pleased once they start crowing. I’ve named them Claude/Claudine,  Charley, Rose, Ruby and Susie for the time being.

Beattie, another bantam. has the habit of flying over into the cats and dog’s  half of the garden.where she can hold her own despite her size. Kica wouldn’t hurt anyone but when she tried to play with Beattie the little hen regarded it as an attack and she flew at Kica’s nose.Then, Beattie went missing and I was afraid I might come across her little body in the grass. It wasn’t like her not to appear at feeding time.

There was no sign of her for several days and then, all of a sudden she came to the conservatory door demanding food. I followed her after her meal and she had made a nest behind the raspberry canes where she had laid 12 eggs. I brought her indoors and settled her in a cage with her eggs but, once again, no chicks hatched. That meant another trip, to the neighbouring .department;this time, to buy chicks of a suitable age. Beattie is now enjoying looking after her six babies.

Then Briony went missing and I found her in the bushes sitting on 10 eggs. I brought her inside and made up a ‘nest’ with a couple of boxes, but she escaped and abandoned her eggs. She seems to have given up being broody now. What a relief!

BUT, back in the chickens’ half of the garden both Hilda and Henrietta went missing. They are the only ‘big girls’ who have been broody in the past. They put in an appearance from time to time but rarely together. However, after searching the long grass and the nettles without success I discovered that they had made a nest TOGETHER under the tarpaulin that covers the henhouse. At least, they are well protected from the weather but i can’t see how many eggs they have laid or whether they have a clutch each or not.

It’s strange because they have never been exactly friendly towards one another but now they are practically sitting on top of each other.

Beattie and her little family will need the cage for another few weeks so I have no option but to leave Hilda and Henrietta outside and wait and see what happens.

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7 Responses to “Broody Hens”

  1. Z Says:

    Our bantams are all shut in now, so can’t lay away and surprise us. A couple of them are trying to sit, but we’re taking away the eggs. 20 eggs from 29 birds today alone, we eat eggs almost every day and still can’t keep up! I gave a dozen and a half to my son yesterday.

  2. Keith Says:

    Seems like you will soon need to expand your empire with all that poultry. Have you thought about moving to a smallholding (I don’t know what it’s called in French).

  3. sablonneuse Says:

    Your hens are laying well, Zoe. I’m lucky to get 4 eggs from 11 adult hens. Some days there aren’t any! Maybe they are getting old (between 2 and 4 years) so I’ll need to wait for the babies to grow up.
    Keith, if I were 20 years younger I’d love to keep animals and have a ‘petite ferme’ or ‘métairie’ but it’s a bit too late now.

    • Z Says:

      Some of them are aged 4 or more, some are last year’s chicks – they’re laying like nobody’s business anyway. Eloise suggested I put them at the end of the drive for people to help themselves.

  4. Keith Says:

    There’s a Roman proverb that says “Ad praesens ova cras pullis sunt meliora”. Translated is “Eggs today are better than chickens tomorrow”.

  5. guyana_gyal Says:

    My goodness! I never knew hens had so much personality!

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