On broody hens

img_1020Ruby isn’t our only broody girl around here.  Our should’ve-been-dinner pullet Chicken Patty is feeling the urge too!

Maggie, our black Australorps, was the only other girl that we’ve had who’s ever sat for more than a day.  And Patty, who is such a dear of a bird, is the funniest Angry Hen that you could meet.  (When they’re broody, see, they get all pissy and puffed-up fluff-the-neck-feathers “mean.”  Like, that is going to stop me from getting those eggs.  Wait!  I forgot about the fact that their beaks are quite sharp…)

Anyway, with no roosters around here (yet) our Patty is sitting on duds.  I am surprised, though, by her persistence.  It means she’s not had the urge bred out of her, which makes me recommend these slow-growing Cornish all the more from Privett Hatchery.  They’re great.  She’s great!  We plan to save a rooster and another hen from this year’s meat birds to make more Chicken Patties.  Wouldn’t you?

18 responses to “On broody hens

  1. First, have to say that I love the changed header on your blog, that is a very powerful picture to me.
    And on the brooders…. even though I have no experience with chickens or other birds, I do like to read about yours, as, since I know nothing, everything is a chance to learn. They seem to have such personalities. Does that come through at an early age?

  2. Chickens and turkeys are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they?

  3. Oh, you know I’d leave them all as Chicken Patties, as long as they were walking Chicken Patties and not vacationing in the freezer chicken patties.
    I’ll be laughing at your pun all day. What has it been– four months since you named Chicken Patty, and I just got it.
    I’m on satellite delay apparently.

  4. The roosters really have sharp beaks! One of our hens has been walking around throwing straw on her back, I have noticed her doing this a couple times now. Have you ever seen this? Do you think she is starting to get broody, or perhaps just a little on the strange side?


    • Mike, how, er, damaging are your roosters? Being without one my experience with them is nil, but…I do know they can harm their girls by pulling their back and rump feathers out. If your girl is looking kind of bare back there, there are Chicken Saddles you can make that help alleviate the amorous damage. But I noticed no difference in Patty’s behavior beforehand: she just started sitting.

  5. Huh! Everyone’s got broodies this spring but me!! So frustrating!! I’m afraid I was guilty of counting my chickens before they hatched this spring!!

  6. I love chickens….there is nothing more innocently joyful than a hen or young chicken, running (almost hopping) across the pasture, feathery pantaloons fluffed up, wings spread, head down. Enjoy the sight, it only lasts a moment.

    Roosters are always so serious. They stand guard and nothing wounds their dignity more than picking one up to pet. Roosters, with beady, angry eyes run towards perceived danger to protect their ladies.

    Chickens mysteriously form cliques. The banty rooster has one or two (standard sized) hens who have sworn their allegiance to him, even after his being reduced to cowering in the coop on a daily basis by two bigger and more muscular roosters.

    Chickens have attitude. The banty rooster’s name is Little Bas**** (LB for short), not for no reason! If you’re late coming up to scatter corn, the chickens approach en mass while clucking their disapproval.

    Chickens talk to each other. Some days, it’s nearly deafening. They wander over 2.5 acres looking for good things to eat. One group cackles and clucks, loudly. From across the pasture another group answers. This can go on for some time. No one can know what they’re saying.

    Chickens, comical and mysterious. I wish I had more!

  7. I am keeping our rooster around because I am hoping our girls go broodie. But it may have been bred out of them. I guess I will just have to wait and see.


  8. You sound like a gal that could use some fertile eggs..
    want some?
    I mean, I think it is a serios farm sin to waste a brood. I’ll don’t know what the farm fairies will do to you if you let her sit duds..:)

  9. Help El,
    Johnny’s just shipped me some onion plants that I forgot I ordered in Jan.

    Can I plant them outside now? I live in Michigan zone 5??

    I don’t think u will have any luck with patty raising a brood. most meat roosters are 2 heavy at maturity to mate and most meat production birds are hybrids like plants are hybrids so if 2 meat birds do mate the offspring will not share the same characteristics as the parent chickens.

    chickens that I know will happily set for you include: Buff Orphingtons, and any Bantum I’ve ever had. LOL Hey they make really good pets for kids and you can then foster eggs under them to get more meat birds. Just a thought. if u do want a rooster for breeding look at the dual purpose birds because they are not a hybrid.

  10. Chicken Patty is certainly a unique and amazing exception to the meat bird rule and I sure hope you can maybe find her a fertilized egg so she can experience Mommyhood and really break the meat bird rule. 🙂

  11. We bought some fake eggs and when a hen goes broody we allow her to keep these only. We mark the calendar and after about 3 weeks we slip some day old chicks from the feed store under her. It must be pitch dark in order for this to work. We had a Mille Fleur bantam mothering six standard chicks. A year later, mom and one daughter still roosted together every night.

    Hens will go broody even without a rooster present. Some breeds have more tendency to go broody than others.

  12. MC, yes, their personalities come out early and true. You know, though, my observation of “all chickens” is fairly limited: ours is a very mixed flock (no two are the same breed) so I cannot really tell you if each observed personality is actually indicative of the breed or the bird. Our Rhode Island red hen is LOUD and argumentative, our Leghorn is a spaz…who knows. We’ll soon be getting 10 egg birds that are the same breed so I will probably have to really pay attention to see if certain birds are different. Patty, though, had always been friendly.

    Ed, I sure think so, and I am thankful as it gives me something to talk about now that the gardens are still kind of boring!

    Aw, Pamela! I am surprised it slipped past you. Although we do call her “Patty Ann” often and I have no idea where that came from.

    Mike, well, I am sure she’s dusting herself, right? Maybe she just has an itch. But you could be right; she could just be a birdbrain…

    Angie! How can that be? Maybe some bantams are in your future, huh? They love going broody. Ducks: I have no clue about them. Aren’t Dorkings supposed to be good brooders and moms? All the Ameraucanas we have had have been kind of spazzy so I can’t really see them sitting. But they can surprise you! Keeping my fingers crossed.

    Petunia, I hope you convinced someone to get some chickens with your lovely description! And thanks for the head’s up on rooster behavior. Of the 10 egg birds we are getting (to become self-sufficient in layers) 2 of them are boys: it will be “who can be the nicest or else you’re dinner” contest with them. But we do intend to hold these guys a lot. Of the 5 bantam babies we have, I think one for sure is a boy. And yes, we plan on one boy for Patty and a friend; we’ll keep them in a separate shed. They ARE fun, and I have convinced my husband they’re more worthwhile than turkeys, geese, ducks or certainly guineas!

    Linda, gee I hope that’s not the case! But yeah it is kind of surprising this girl is broody. So maybe with the impetus of having a boy around, your girls will change their minds!

    Jen I might take Petunia’s advice and change her eggs out for a friend from the feed store. We’ll see…she is STILL sitting the dear. But thanks! I’m hoping next year will be different.

    Shelly! Absolutely! And it’s supposed to be nice this weekend so go for it. Those plants always look a little bedraggled but they usually perk up, even with the threat of frost they should be fine. We planted some at the school (plants) and they’re fine so far. Thanks for the advice though about the birds. Our Patty isn’t one of those monster meat birds: our Black Australorps Maggie is still bigger and heavier; Patty does have a nice breast on her but she’s the first to the top of the coop at night at the highest perch so she’s no meatblob. Here’s hoping she breeds true, though frankly I do like her genetics (not big, very chicken-y, likes to set, very friendly, lays lots of eggs) so I am hoping to pass them on. I have heard that about Orpingtons. And we have 5 baby bantams now for both the pet and Mama reasons so we’ll soon see!

    Christy you all are making me feel like I really should go find her an egg or two to hatch. She deserves it after all this hard work!

    Petunia, thanks for the advice! I might just do that. Plus I do have fake eggs that I use to tell the girls where to lay. And of course our feed store sells day-olds… Chicken madness here I tell you!

  13. El – I love hearing that Chicken Patty is such a great hen. Our slow Cornish from Privett are doing just great. I would totally buy from them again (this is our second round of broilers from them) and recommend them to everyone.

    Have you seen any twisted toes on yours though? We’ve got a couple that have one almost club foot, which I know is genetic, but it’s still kind of creepy… They get around just fine.

    • Hi Laura. Our first batch was only 15 birds and I didn’t notice any toe issues…in fact I had no issues with them at all. The boys really matured much more quickly so they were mostly ready to go at week 12 with the rest of them by 16 but of course I think I went longer than that. But I guess I will find out if our new batch has kooky feet: we’ll be getting 25 with the next batch as well as 15 red broilers. 40 meat birds! It’s a big order for us.

  14. I found your blog when I was looking for info on other people’s broody hens! I have one for the first time and this is Day16 for her. But we do have a rooster so she is sitting on what could be new babies! 🙂

  15. Hello Farmly folks, I am glad to hear about your broody girl! Yeah hopefully she’s sitting on some live ones: it would certainly be fun for her, and for all of you! Congrats in advance!

  16. Until yesterday I had one of a strange pair of roosters disguised as hens. They kept this secret for months, and though I asked them repeatedly, they didn’t tell–just kept together, acted like hens, and kept out of the way of Papa Doc Rooster.

    An interesting business! I’m a writer. I watch chickens. : )

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