Supervised Free Ranging on a Breezy Saturday

We have 6 or 7 hens that have gone broody.  What a pain.  When a hen is broody it means she wants to be a mommy.  She stops laying eggs and will sit in a nesting box trying to hatch any number of eggs….. even NONE.  She will sit there as though she has settled in to the 3 week incubation period.  They get kind of zombie like and mean.  They will peck at you if you try to get them out of the box.   This is a problem, 1. because when they are like this they stop laying eggs, and 2.  The other hens that want to lay eggs can’t get into the nesting boxes.  This creates some turmoil in the coop.  They bitch up quite a storm.  The broodies hiss and squawk and the hens squawk back.  This can go on for hours.  Even the roosters get in on the act.  Every so often you can go into the coop and there will be 3 hens in one box (12 x 18 inches).  The broody will be on the bottom and two others that can’t hold it anymore are on top of her trying to lay eggs.  It sounds hilarious and it is….. when you are in the right mood.

So today Zina decided that one way to break a broody is to deny her the ability to get to a nesting box and get the hens out into the bright sunshine for awhile.  This involves a supervised outing into the grass.  If we didn’t have aerial predators we could just let em out.  The four footed predators are easily kept at bay because the whole area is fenced.  Unfortunately, hawks, falcons and owls also think chicken is tasty so we need to be out there in case of an aerial assault.

Hopefully this will help break some of the broodies.  Sure it is nature’s way, but what are we going to do with dozens of chicks that would arrive if we let them hatch their clutches?  The freezer only has so much room in it and feed at that level would be expensive enough that we’d have to sell the eggs just to keep up.  That is definitely for another day.

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