Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Introducing Broody Hen
I've talked some about broody hens, and I'll touch on the topic again since the Buff Orpinton pictured is so persistently broody. In short, broodiness is a hormonal response that drives a hen to sit on a clutch of eggs until they hatch.
That would be great and all, except we don't have a rooster. So no amount of sitting will cause the eggs to hatch.
The hen pictured is so persistently broody that we have simply taken to calling her "Broody". I was hoping to capture in the photo one of the tell tale signs of the broody hen--they fluff out their feathers on a near permanent basis in order to raise their body temperuture. Their increased body heat is what incubates the eggs. Other indicators your hen might be broody include oddly raised tail feathers, as well as a particular high-pitched cackling when you approach the hen on the nest. We've posted previously about how to "break" broodiness--and will wait until summer before we actively pursue that.
For the time being we do check on our broody hens regularly, to make sure they are getting food and water. (Usually once a day they will leave the nest to eat, drink, and deposit one extremely large poop.) Prolonged broodiness can lead to poor hygeine and diminished immunity--when we see this in a hen we might lock her out of the run for several days until she starts to look a little better (letting her in at night of course), or take more serious steps to "break" the hormonal cycle she is stuck in.