I have an odd dilemma: one of our pullet hens has gone broody. She wants to do nothing put sit on a nest, and has picked a spot in a 40 gallon tub with hay in it. Originally, there was an egg in that spot…and she really wanted to hatch it. I took that egg away, but she’s still incredibly broody and keeps returning to that spot no matter how I try to separate her from it.
We’ve lost her as an egg layer for several weeks no matter what (once they go broody, hens stop laying — much like mammals stop ovulating when they’re pregnant). I’d normally be inclined to give her a dozen eggs or so and let her “have at” brooding them in a nice isolated nest that no other hens can get into and lay more eggs. We’re big believers in letting mother hens do their thing, and hatching out a brood of chicks they can raise on their own. But here is the problem: 21 days from now (when those eggs would begin hatching), it will be mid-November. In Michigan. Unless she’s the mother of all Buff Orpingtons, those chicks would need supplemental heat for quite some time. The dead of winter is a lousy time to be letting a hen walk around with a clutch of chicks.
FWIW, we have eggs coming out our eyeballs and I can easily spare a dozen for this experiment. But I’m not into animal cruelty, and would hate to see a dozen chicks freeze to death.
Any thoughts from my dear readers? I need to make a decision shortly.