Mar 182011

It’s March here in Kentucky and one of my hens has gone broody.  I didn’t really want her to sit on eggs this early but she refused to budge.  Since the weather here is pretty warm, I ended up letting her keep four eggs to hatch. 

One common problem that I have when my hens go broody is that the other hens attack her and try to chase her off the nest so that they can lay their eggs in her nest.  I always mark the eggs that she is sitting on and just remove the extra eggs.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of nests to lay eggs in and they have lots of other areas around the horse barn where they lay eggs as well,  but they always want to lay in the one with the broody hen.

However, this time the poor embattled broody hen was fighting back!  She very aggressively defended her nest and refused to leave.  I was horrified to discover her covered in blood when I went out to let the hens out one morning.  I felt really bad for her and she was being such a good mother.

To prevent any more bloodshed, I ended up moving the nesting box into the tack room to protect her from the other hens.  I closed the trap door to the hay loft to prevent racoons from getting in there and killing her.   I have to go in and out of there twice a day to feed the horses but she doesn’t seem to mind at all.  She only gets aggressive if the other chickens try to enter the tack room.

My broody hen that was being attacked is now living like a queen.  She has her very own supply of food and water should she decide she needs it. She was a little nervous at first but she settled right down and is happy as can be.  This broody hen has raised chicks in the past and has proven to be an outstanding mother. 

Anyone that has this problem should consider trying to move the broody hen that is being attacked to a more isolated area so that she can brood her eggs in peace.  This is the second time I have moved a broody hen and so far this move has been successful just like the first one was.

Let me know if anyone else has had to resort to moving their broody hens that were being attacked.  I would love to know if anyone has had luck doing this or if the hen just abandoned the nest.

Jun 272010

I made the decision to buy some chicks a few years ago on a whim.  Now, I can’t image not having my chickens because they have given me a certain amount of self sufficiency that I really enjoy.

People ask me all the time if they pay for themselves and really, that isn’t what this is about for me.  I usually say I doubt it and I really don’t care.  This is more about my need to not be so dependent on others to feed me and my family. 

Chicken care and chick care are all about how to best take care of my family and my flock.  A broody hen is a great thing to me becaus she is ready to raise the next generation of chicks for me.

My chickens provide eggs, meat and new chicks for future egg layers and meat producers.  They also provide a lot of fertilizer for my garden in the form of chicken poop.  The chicken poop makes my vegetable garden healthier and it produces a lot more vegetables for me to feed to my family as well as sell to locals.

They also provide a lot of entertainment. I can spend hours watching baby chicks run and play as they discover the joys of being outside.  I also love to watch my hens and roosters peck and scratch around the yard.  Even when they manage to escape and cause havoc in the garden, I still have to chuckle at them.

So, to those of you considering raising chickens and making a profit, I wish you luck.  I’m sure it can be done but I’m just not that into that.  My initial goal wasn’t to be more self sufficient but it has transformed into that for me as the years passed.  I enjoy knowing that no matter what our government does or the state of the economy, I will be able to feed my family.

To learn how I figured out how to build my very first chicken coop without pulling my hair out, check this out.

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Jun 272010

I was so excited.  One of my bard rock hens went broody and started collecting a clutch of eggs to sit on.  Everything was going great.  I made sure that she ate and drank every day and she was being a good broody hen. 

On Friday night I candled all 8 eggs and all of them had little baby chicks floating around inside the eggs.  It was so great!  I locked her up tight in her separate little hen house and went to bed happy.

I got up the next morning and walked out to let the hens and roosters out and to check on my broody hen.  To my horror, I found her dead outside her little chicken coop.  Somehow something had managed to pull a board lose and then finished getting in my chewing a hole in the wood chicken coop.  The hole was just large enough for whatever killed her to drag her out of the hen house.  Whatever had killed her hadn’t been able to drag her body off though.

I checked the eggs and they were still there but they were cold.  The eggs were 13 days old by this time and I was sick that they would probably die.  By biggest problem was that I only had a 3 egg incubator so I jumped in my car and drove to Tractor Supply to get a larger incubator.  Luckily they had one in stock so I bought it and got home as fast as I could.

I put all 8 eggs in the incubator right away even though it said to let the temperature stabilize for several hours.  I figured at this point, what could it hurt.  So I sat there literally for almost four hours until I was sure the temperature in the incubator had stabilized.

I figured that I had done all I could do for the moment.  I waited twenty four hours and I candled the eggs again to see if I had any chicks left alive.  At that point I noticed that one of the eggs was actually chipped.  I didn’t hold out much hope for any of them still being alive but to my amazement, they were all still alive!

Now the wait was on to see if all of the baby chicks survived and hatched out ok.

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