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Mildred has decided she wants to raise chicks. Alas, there is no rooster around.

Chicken Troubles 2019

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.

Mildred chicken broody
Mildred has decided she wants to raise chicks. Alas, there is no rooster around. She sits like a limp water balloon wherever she touches down.

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 with dislocated hip chicken
Ethel has dislocated her hip somehow.

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.

Mildred Ethel chickens nesting
Mildred and Ethel are each having their own personal crisis at the moment.

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.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Shannon Matheson

    I am so sorry to hear about Ethel. A hard to decision to make 🙁 My thoughts are with you. Sending love. RIP Ethel

    Shannon xo

  2. Susan

    So sorry to hear about Ethel. I got my chickens a little after you did so really enjoy your chicken updates and comparing them to my experience. I am amazed Ethel was still laying, I haven’t had as much success with mine. I have a couple of EE now that are about 4 yrs old and are still laying big beautiful blue/green eggs – except when they go broody which seems to be at least 3 times a year for several weeks or more. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Christy

      She really was the Super Chicken. The most easy going gal we’ve ever had, a kind mediator/elder of the flock. I’m sorry to hear your EEs have gone broody. They aren’t known for broodiness so that’s a surprise. Anyway, thanks for your kind words.

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