Monday, June 18, 2012

Why I hate Chickens, Part 1

Well, the two broody hens that I had (notice the past tense verb) setting on eggs last week have been thrown off their nests. The black hen on the floor was on a bunch of eggs one day, then the next day there is nothing underneath her and there are two dried yolk covered eggs just a foot away from her. Did a snake get in and eat all the eggs? Did some other chicken eat here eggs? Did she eat her eggs? Once her nest was ransacked, she hasn't gone back to setting on anything. Hopefully she'll go back to laying eggs though.

Then I noticed that the barred rock hen in the top nesting box had yolk on her breast feathers. I lifter her up (and got pecked to all heck) and noticed a broken egg shell. Only a few days earlier I found a broken egg under her, but just figured she cracked it while moving the other eggs around. Well, this time when I took the eggshell to get rid of it, she grabbed it and started eating it. So I tossed her off the nest and destroyed the remaining five eggs, two of which had small embryos in them. Dang it! Not that I would have fired up the incubator for just those few eggs, but it was still a bummer to see.

Hey Gloria, I'm going out to grab a bite to eat, want me to bring you a sandwich?
No thanks Bonnie, I just finished eating one of my unborn children.  But I wouldn't mind a soda.
The barred rock was back to her broody self in just a few days, having selected another nest box with a handful of eggs in it. But I immediately threw her off and collected the eggs. Did that two times now. She just won't give up. But the heck if I'm going to let her sit on a bunch of eggs that she'll just end up eating when she gets a hankering for a snack.

I've also been keeping an eye on one of the Black Australorp hens. I know she hasn't been laying in months now, but figured she was just having a bad streak. The past few weeks she's been getting slower and slower and although she was always one of the biggest hens I've had, she's been getting a little bigger in the abdomen, making me think that she's egg bound. If so, that would be the third egg bound hen we've had here. I don't know if that's a common thing in chicken keeping or not. But if she keeps getting worse I'm going to have to decide if I'm just going to let her hang out until she croaks or put her down. I guess it depends on how bad she's looking. I had one egg bound hen that although she was slow and obviously not in top condition, she still stretched out in the sun, pecked for bugs and took what looked like enjoyable dust baths. I just couldn't put her down. And one day I went out to the chicken yard and found her in the corner dead. 

The second egg bound hen went downhill very quickly and when it was obvious she was in pain, I put her down. So I guess I'll just see how the Black Australorp does day by day and make that nasty decision when it looks like she's had enough.

I tell you, it's like a frekking Poultry Soap Opera around here.


  1. Gosh, chickens are dumb and frustrating! I haven't had a problem with my hens eating eggs, but I think it is odd that they eat them after they have started to develop embryos. It's one thing then they haven't started to grow, but after that it is cannibalistic. Sorry, I don't have any suggestions for you. I hope your Black Australorp does fair okay. It is never fun putting down an animal.

  2. I remember the poultry drama from when I was young along with the constant predator attacks and unceasing attrition rate which is why I haven't yet gotten any around here. Until someone is around almost 24/7 to look after them I am just feeding the local coons and foxes.

  3. First they were like horny teenagers, fornicating all over the barnyard. Now, they are old, stupid broody tards. Egg eaters are the worst!!! I can't even tell you how pissed I was to discover my girls (the old ones) eating eggs. GGRRRR!!!

    Blanche (gawd I miss those girls) was egg bound, and I soaked her in a warm bath off and on for about an hour, to help her abdominal muscles relax. She actually got soooo relaxed that she fell asleep in my arms for a few hours. Anyways, she passed the egg and ended up just fine. I guess it depends on how attached you are to that hen or how good of a layer/sitter/mama she is... If I had had to put Blanche down, I wouldn't even know where to start (as you well know how much of a sissy I am)

    I can't wait to hear about part 2!

  4. When you want them to go broody; they don't and when you don't want them to,2 or three will do it! We finally got two to quit but now another one is staying on the nest. The eggs aren't fertile so it is a waste of time. We get a broken egg now and then but I am surprised at your loosing lots of eggs that way.

    They are frustrating at time, but I do love those fresh eggs.

  5. Poultry Soap Opera, indeed. Chickens have a habit of showing their brainless side most of the time here. Which makes me they have a "brainy" side? The caption under your picture of the gals is hilarious. Well, not considering the circumstances...but should write a book. Oh...and email me sometime - I had something I wanted to talk to you about. farmmilkmama(at)yahoo(dot)com

  6. Crazy, makes me rethink the getting chickens idea LOL!

  7. Two of my Buffs are broody and one of the silly things NEVER has an egg under her! I take her off the nest and scoot her butt outside a couple of times a day. I have been collecting the eggs twice a day trying to break their broodiness. I would like to let one of them hatch some eggs but I want to wait until it gets a little cooler here. My last bunch of chickens had a couple of egg eaters, they don't live here anymore! ;-)

  8. Coffee through nose when reading the photo caption - lordy, girl, you are a hoot! I have battled the broodies all spring. I have one older hen who I refer to as "Nana Marie Claire". She is the broodiest thing ever. But, at least she will set on her eggs until hatch. I've had a host of weird chicken ailments this year - compacted crop, bumblefoot - it's like a battle field out here.

  9. One of mine sarted eating her unfertilized eggs sometime last winter. Then I discovered several really thinned shells eggs (right after she laid them). I think one broke, she took a nibble and was hooked. Luckily she's a really nice bird, 1st I ever got. Time will tell, but atleast my other one (2 should start in Sept.) isn't doing that!

  10. I have one who lays eggs with a membrane only...she eats it and then goes about her that goes broody (no rooster and no egg under her)and one that just died from being egg bound (I think.) Then there was that time last summer when a 6 yr old died and an hour later another laid down in the same spot and died (we think out of being heart broken...)