This summer took its toll not only on the garden but the animals as well. My little hens went broody 2ce! Around here a broody hen gets pretty protective and usually mean. I’ve always reserved the egg gathering for the kids. It’s a job they are more than capable of doing, but when the hens went broody this year the 2nd time and they got really mean the task of gathering didn’t always get done as well as it should. Long story short it was a tough egg production year. The first time they went broody we let the hen’s sit about 2 dozen hatched! However, we only have 1 lone pullet that made it to now. And that’s because chicks are small enough that they can go in and out of the fence, and I can’t protect them then.
The second time they went broody, it was hot, so very hot, and they were in survival mode. We all were, which allows for tasks to be either incomplete, or done poorly. Once I sat down and really looked at what was going on I made changes, I changed the feed they were getting, and I moved the location of the feeder. I cleaned out all the nesting boxes and put new straw in. There was so much change that the flock reset, literally! Within 3 days the hens quit being broody and egg production came back up. Now I have eggs running out of my ears almost, so if you need any I have them for sale.
I have 6 roosters, and each has it’s own time zone I think. The first starts to crow around 3:30am and from there they all just rotate around the clock as to who is in charge of keeping the world aware of the time of day. The hens, well they have their own thing going on, they have a choir. There are multiple verses but the song is pretty much the same everyday, it’s called The Egg Song. Chickens don’t really “cluck” they “bawk” unlike the roosters that crow. Some don’t like to hear the chickens sing, but you can tell what’s going if you listen and watch them. They will tell you, if an egg is being laid, if one of them found something yummy to eat, if a challenge in the hierarchy is going on and of course if there is danger. I love to hear my flock sing.
Back to the Egg Song, there are a few schools of thought about why chickens make all that ruckus after they lay an egg. The first is that the hen is just SO proud of herself for laying that egg and SO relieved to have laid it that she feels the need to broadcast that fact to the world. She is literally “bawking” with pride about her accomplishment.
A second is that the hen, having gone off to lay her egg in private somewhere, is calling to the rest of the flock to rejoin them.
The third is that she is protecting her egg by moving away from it and distracting predators from the nest itself and focusing their attention to her instead to keep her egg safe. She wants to keep that egg safe because each egg she lays, in her mind, fertile or not, is a potential new chick to keep the flock going. I think that all of these are pretty right on track.
If you spend much time watching chickens, you can learn a lot, and you can solve a lot of the world’s problems as well. You know the saying “pecking order”? Yeah, it comes from a flock of chickens, it’s real and it changes over time too (secretly I think they are like the chicken mafia, but I want to stay on their good side so they are just “the family”). There are the hens who are in charge and run things, get to eat first, have the best nesting boxes, dusting holes, and all of there feathers! The lowest hens on the ladder are usually beat up, missing feathers, and flighty.
I enjoy my hens, except when they decide that the nesting box is a pooping spot, or go broody and get mean. But other than that, they are pretty fun.
Speaking of chickens, I need to go do chores and gather eggs.