What they don’t tell you.

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.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

OUCH.

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.

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4 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you.

  1. They didn’t tell me how bad those broody poops would smell. I’m talking worse than anything I’ve EVER smelled. Gag inducing.

    My buff orp, Olive is still a bit bald on the underside from her brood that is now almost 11 weeks old. I wonder when your girls will give up!

    Speaking of Olive.. She’s had two eggs break inside her this week. Never experienced something like it. I have to seclude her and restrict her sunlight so she doesn’t lay for a week (to promote healing). She is not happy with me at all.

  2. Are these birds actually sitting on fertile eggs? Seems like you are going through a lot of trouble, I hope it’s not for nothing! If these are just broody hens, wouldn’t moving them to a new location offer a solution? I do enjoy your clever posts though!

    • Mine aren’t too bad, but I sure do miss the eggs. They both allow me to remove them from their nests and plop them outdoors twice a day, and even stay out for a while taking a dust bath. Hey, a girl likes to feel pretty, even when she’s expecting…

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