I am just 33 sweet days from being done with graduate school. I can’t wait to resume life (and blogging)!
A few weeks ago we noticed that Zuni was acting a big strange. She started sleeping in the nest box (all three girls share the nest box for laying eggs) and acting cranky. About two weeks ago we realized that we had a broody hen on our hands! She refused to leave the nest box, and got pretty agitated when we tried to get her out.
So why do hens go broody? Both the farmers we talked to and the internet say that it just kind of happens. Broodiness is when a chicken has an overwhelming desire to have baby chickens.
We didn’t have any fertile eggs (no rooster at our house), so we tried to get her to snap out of it.
At the advice of our local urban farming store, Livingscape, first we tried tossing her out of the nest box and ruffling it up. It didn’t work.
Then the weather got a bit warmer, so we decided to try the infamous “Chicken Dunk.” Since broody hens have a very high body temperature (to help the eggs hatch), many people will try dunking them in cold water to snap them out of it. This also didn’t work.
Our final options (before chicken dinner I guess) were either to put her in a wire cage for a few days (or weeks) so that she would be uncomfortable and eventually stop brooding, or to have her hatch some eggs. Um either annoying squawking chicken in a cage or baby chicks?? I think the solution was pretty clear.
We picked up 6 fertile eggs at a local farm store, stuck them under Zuni on the night of May 5th, and should have babies on May 25th or 26th. When you put eggs under a broody hen, you want to do it at night so there isn’t too much disturbance. After we put the eggs in, Zuni took her beak and arranged them underneath her. Animal instincts are so rad.
We had to make some adjustments to the chicken coop so that Zuni could chill in the nest box without the other girls trying to lay in there. Ryan rigged up a second nest box, and blocked Zuni’s area off with cardboard. In the morning, after the other two have laid eggs, we open up the cardboard so Zuni can get out to eat and poop. She usually comes out once a day – so I grabbed a few photos this afternoon.
Eggs lined up neatly in the nest box (sorry for the blurry photo!) – this was all Zuni’s doing.
Zuni stretching her legs.
The other temporary nest box (yes, those are golf balls. Chickens like to lay eggs on golf balls). Also we were out of hay, so grass clippings it is!
View of Zuni’s little area.
In other garden news, we have been busy planting!
Ryan’s got plans to build a fence around the garden and add a new chicken coop as well.
We are adding tomatoes/peppers/cukes this weekend if the weather stays decent.
I also planted a borage plant that is starting to bloom! These remind me of when I worked at the UC Davis Children’s Garden way back in the day. And the flowers are edible!
That is probably the most text-heavy blog post I have ever written. Hope it was helpful!
Now back to papers, logic models, presentations, and job applications.Whew!
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