Monday, June 18, 2012

Are broody hens contagious?

But first I want to give everyone an update on Spice.  She seems to be okay.  She still pants w/ her beak open each afternoon when the other hens are not.  But she's eating and drinking and laying eggs.  Her weight feels good.  Beside the panting, she likes to come stand up on the patio and just stand there.  Instead of going out into the garden to scratch with her sisters.  And she REALLY makes a ruckus over laying an egg which makes me wonder if it's painful for her.  But I'm going to just leave her be until we have a clear sign of there being a problem.

Egg production was definitely off last week.  I was thinking that Ginger hadn't laid at all.  But now I think she was laying smaller than normal eggs which was throwing me off.  At first I blamed it on mourning the loss of Sugar.  But now I think they were protesting my transitioning them from crumbles to pellets.  Or maybe we've got some broody hormones raging.

Friday afternoon Honey disappeared into her favorite nest.  She was still there after dinner and hadn't moved by 10pm.  I wasn't concerned until she was still there the following morning.  So I scooped up my 6lb ball of feathers from the nest and was a bit concerned at how limp she was.  But when I got my hand under her, I felt it.  Bare skin.  She's plucked her breast and tummy bare of feathers.  CLASSIC sign of a broody hen.

Honey's nest with her breast feathers and her prized purple egg.  (Shhh, it's plastic.  Don't tell her.)

I really hate to mess with my hens but I'm not ready for a broody.  And honestly, at 6.5 months of age, I don't think Honey is ready to be a mamma just yet either.  I've read that one way to break a broody is to  block off access to their nest to deter them.

Honey puffed up to twice her normal size giving her best stink eye to the plastic flower pot that is blocking her nest.  Apologies for beer box advertisement.  I was simply looking for things in the garage and garden to put in her nests and you have to admit, the size was perfect.

So here are the nests all blocked with random things from the garage and garden.  And I'm happy to report that today, no more broody.  Or so I thought.  I go to collect eggs, and there's one.  One lonely egg, when there should be three.  And then I notice that Coco has lined her nest with black downey feathers from her breast.

Oh boy.  Is broodiness contagious?

1 comment:

  1. I know you read "Tilly's Nest" so am sure you must have seen her post with all her silkies broody as well as Tilly herself.This made me think you have something here, is it contagious? It does seem possible.
    I also thought from her last post about heat, perhaps Spice feels the heat more thus the panting, I may be clutching at straws here though!