Good fodder for Oxen: No.2 What's all the fuss about broody hens?

We get the question all the time....."my hen's gone broody; what do I do?"  This response is definitely our personal opinion and may not be the answer you're looking for.  So as not to put our cart before our horse, let's define why we keep heritage breeds as opposed to commercial egg laying machines. For the most part, here at our place, we see it as part of our mission to promote the keeping of  breeds that have graced the door yards of  North America and western Europe for hundreds of years.  These breeds are identified, for the most part, by the place whence they come.  Dorkings, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, Delawares, Australorps, Cochins etc, carry the specific traits and habits of the places, climes and cultural preferences of their name places.  These historic breeds are definitely not the egg-laying machines that have been developed for the commercial poultrymen to lay every day from a very early age until they self distruct by the time thay have completed a year's cycle of production, and by the way, have completely lost any memory of broodiness or motherly traits.  "Shouldn't it bother us that we consider the ideal chicken one who has forgotten how to reproduce her own kind?", asks Harvey Ussery, author and poultry authority.

When one of our Wyandottes goes broody, we acknowledge the fact that we have a little bit of American (New York State) history amongst our backyard flock and let her have a well deserved rest.  We give her a couple of ceramic eggs to hunker down with and let her have a few weeks to recuperate.  It's got to be physically exhausting to put together such a perfect little package of nutrition every day, not to mention calcium depletion.   After a little time alone in the nest box zoning out, she soon realizes that her "dummy" eggs are probably not going to hatch, and off she goes back into the flock for some more egg production.  And for those that worry about their broodies starving themselves or dehydrating, not to worry.  My first chickens, a handsome trio of Silver Grey Dorkings, were presented to me at the age of eleven. Let's just say that a few decades have passed since, and so far I've never personally known of a broody hen to die on the nest due to malnutrition.  She'll get up, grab a bite and a small drink, "take care of business" and get back on the nest in five minutes....usually when you're not looking.

What we're trying to say here in a roundabout way is not to worry when one of your favorite girls gets all huffy and goes broody.  Give her a rest, plenty of fresh water, fresh non-GMO feed, grit and oyster shell, and she'll be back to her old egg laying self before you have time to make your next omelet.  

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Good fodder for Oxen: No.2 What's all the fuss about broody

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