When people visit Gardenerd HQ, they often faun over our five hens. These ladies are beautiful, adorable, and productive…most of the time. It’s around this time of year that chicken keeping becomes more challenging. And for those who want chickens, we think it’s important to know what you’re getting yourselves into.
At present, two of our five ladies are causing trouble. Mildred, our Cockoo Maran, has gone broody.
What is Broody?
Broody means the hen feels compelled to sit on an egg. And do nothing else. She stops laying, and in extreme cases, she’ll stop eating and drinking too. Luckily, when we take Mildred out of the egg box (6-8 times per day for the last week), she will partake of food and water. We’ve tried moving her out, we’ve tried locking her out of the roost (which throws off all the egg laying hens from their routine). Nothing has worked yet. Last year, she broke broodiness in 4 days. I’ve stopped counting now.
Yes, we could get a couple fertilized eggs to put under her. That would make the most sense. Trouble is, we only have room for 6 hens, and we have 5 now. Which brings me to our next hen:
Dislocated Hip Trouble
Ethel, our eldest hen, aged seven, is such a trooper. Nobody told her she isn’t supposed to lay eggs anymore, so she continues to grace us with her beautiful blue eggs every other day. Even as I write this she’s in the egg box laying. Trouble is she dislocated her hip late last week during a tussle in the roost the night before. She’s hobbling around, being pecked at by the other hens, and is doing her best to appear normal.
We took her to the vet, where they wanted at least $700 just to diagnose the problem. We asked friends in the know how to relocate her hip, but tried and found we’re too squeamish to do the deed and pull her join back into the socket.
So yours truly is losing sleep over these hens. While Mildred’s problem will eventually fade, we may need to cull Ethel. UPDATE: After a fruitless morning of sobbing on the phone searching for help, we had to cull Ethel. RIP sweet girl. This is part of homesteading. It’s not always pretty, it’s definitely not peaceful or bucolic. The rewards are great, but the struggle is real sometimes. Just needed to say that out loud.