Broody hens: Can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em.
How is that chickens seem to know the exact opposite of what you want from them? When you want eggs, a hen or two will decide it’s the perfect time to set. When you want to hatch some new chicks, the hens that were previously broody will start laying again. What gives, girls??
This is what happened to us recently:
None of our hens have gone broody this year. Usually we can count on at least one going broody in the spring, but I suppose they took a poll and decided against it. Not a problem, really, except that I wanted to hatch some of our Black Copper Maran’s eggs.
We only have one Maran hen. We started out with two a couple of years ago, but one fell victim to a fox. I love the Marans: they lay beautiful dark brown eggs and have calm personalities. They’re also good layers. They’ll never keep up with Leghorns in production, but I can count on getting a Maran egg about four-five times a week (and that’s now that our hen has passed peak production age, too). Granted our rooster is a Rhode Island Red, so chicks from her eggs would not be purebred Marans, but I wanted to hatch them anyway.
Enter the Bantams.
Friends of ours have several adorable Cochin bantams that, funnily enough, they bought from the Children’s Museum in Memphis. Naturally our friends wanted eggs, so their bantams (we like to call them banties) went broody. Since I wanted broodies and our friends didn’t, they generously gave us two of their broody hens.
Would you like to guess what happened when we brought the banties home?
I dutifully saved eggs until I had six Maran eggs and six Easter Egger eggs. I made them a nice nest out of hay. I gave them the eggs.
And the little rascals laid two eggs of their own and never went broody. I swear there must be a secret chicken code of honor that we don’t know about.
Now I have two non-broody bantams and a dozen wasted eggs. I also have a pending shipment of four Black Copper Maran chicks, three female and one male. If you can’t beat ’em, up the ante!
I know someone is bound to go broody again at some point. Maybe by then I’ll have some pure Maran eggs to hatch. Or maybe I’ll have to buy an incubator. Ha! I guess we’ll see.