Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last warm October stretch for the hens

Our chickens are preparing for colder weather, eating up as many of the last greens and bugs they can.  We have allowed them to have full run of our entire yard for the past month, so they can wander about all day until nightfall, eating to their heart's content.  Soon enough the snow will be here...Gypsy has molted again (she's done so each fall since we got her), whereas the others haven't started to lose their feathers yet this season.  Pickles has become broody over the past few weeks, basically just leaving the nest box to drink and eat a little, but sitting on her nest trying to hatch an egg day in and day out.  She even sleeps in the nest box each night.  Even after we collect her eggs, she still continues to sit in the nest box.  Finally we felt we needed to intervene, and did a bit more research into what to do about a broody hen.  Short of just giving her some fertilized eggs to really hatch, there are a few ways to try to solve a broody hen.  Generally, the idea is to break her habit by making the nest box uncomfortable (one source suggested putting icecubes under the hen), or taking away the nest box entirely.  Greg decided the more humane way was to close up the nest box for a few days and hope to encourage her to find another place to lay her eggs.  Since the other hens have already taken to laying their eggs in various grassy hidden places around the yard they didn't notice the absence of nest box and we hope to see Pickles starting to integrate with the other hens and come up with a few new hobbies!  Pictured above are Sadie and Buttons, who are the most social and love to hang around on our back porch, or back stoop, waiting for us to come out and see them.  They wander in if the door is open, pecking at any stray crumbs that may be found in the door sill.  They are lovely companions.

1 comment:

  1. This might sound horrible but my grandfather use to insert a feather through their nose. It is like a huge moustache. Many South Asian farmers do this.

    Birds get annoyed and go around half a day trying to take the feather out and totally stop brooding.