Ruby, one of the ‘Barn Girls’ is broody! The last few days she’s been sitting on the eggs in one of the nest boxes all day and exhibiting the other broody behaviours, such as picking the feathers from her underside so that the maximum heat can be given to the eggs. We’ve never had a broody hen before, and it’s rare for an ex-commercial hen to go broody, as this trait is bread out of this type of chicken. So we have a dilemma!
Ruby is a lovely hen, very gentle and friendly in nature, and was the first hen to jump up on our knees when we sit outside with the girls, and still does this consistently – even though she only does this for treats! Her body is telling her that she wants to be a mother hen and raise chicks and because we don’t have a cockerel, the eggs that the hens lay are infertile, and will never hatch into chicks, but we could help her by replacing the eggs she’s sitting on with fertile eggs. Also, this is probably the only chance that Ruby will have to become a mother hen – we’ve had Ruby since September 2016 and she may never go broody again.
However, if she did sit on fertile eggs and those successfully hatched, there’s a 50:50 chance that we’d have some male chicks, and I don’t think we – or the flock – would appreciate the attention a cockerel would give the hens! We’re also away on holiday for a few days in a few weeks’ time, which is another consideration for when the chicks may hatch, and the health and care we could give them and Ruby at that important time.
We need to make a decision soon though, either help Ruby become a mother hen, or try and break her broodiness so that her health doesn’t deteriorate.