When you first get chickens, “they” tell you a lot of things. There’s a great deal of information out there, especially in our information age. And yet…there are some things, shocking things, that remain unsaid, that you just have to discover for yourself.
If you keep laying hens, sooner or later, one of them will go broody. I learned a lot about broody hens before it happened in my flock: a broody hen will sit on her nest for all but 15-20 minutes of the day, at which point, she will eat, drink and poop a day’s worth; a broody will growl if you approach her nest; a broody will protect her chicks from the attentions of the flock, etc., etc.
Well, here’s something they don’t tell you: broodies be bald.
I’ve been taking Abby and Buffy off their broody nests twice a day, for exercise and socialisation more than for feed and water, as they each have both close by. If I didn’t, I don’t believe they’d move at all. Abby’s gone three days on the nest, and that can’t be healthy.
The other day, I picked Abby up to take her out, when the hand under her felt something…odd. Something…a little too warm. Something…a little too smooth. I turned her over in my arms to look at her belly. It was BALD. Like, chicken in your grocer’s freezer bald. Like, I’m glad I’m a vegetarian bald.
I had noticed an unusual number of feathers in both Abby’s nest and in Buffy’s, but it’s spring and a lot of the girls are shedding some down. I didn’t really put it together. Was something wrong with Abby? As it happened, I had another broody to hand for comparison.
I flipped Buffy over, and…BALD. Bald with a red bedsore along her breastbone.
Clearly, this was a standard broody thing, unless both my girls were a) ill, or b) nuts. I mean, a girl doesn’t just give herself a Brazilian for no reason.
I consulted with Chicken Debbie this afternoon and she’s all, oh, yeah, mmhmm, and I’m all, WHAT?! It seems that this is standard broody behaviour; it gets the eggs closer to the heat of the body. I can stand down red alert.
So, no one told me, but I’m telling you, because that’s how I roll.
Now, if you’re quite through, Abby says: stop looking at my cooch.