Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why I hate Chickens, Part 3

Yes, I know.  I said that I was going to do a post titled "Why I LOVE Chickens", but you know what?  Their antics and generally infuriating behavior lately has made it difficult to focus on the good aspects of chicken ownership.

I've had three hens go broody on me this summer.  As in the summer of daily temps in triple-digits.  As in what frekking stupid chicken would want to start setting on a bunch of eggs when the weather is so hot that the ticks are even afraid to come out?

Well, one of those chickens successfully hatched out seven chicks, but one (the scalped chick) died shortly after.  But still.  Six chicks.  I was pretty happy.  Because she didn't EAT her stinking unborn offspring.

You see, the other two broody hens I have are pretty pathetic, if not downright murderous, mothers-to-be (or maybe not mothers the way things are going).   I have one hen sitting on three eggs.  She started with thirteen.  And every few days, there would be another broken or half-eaten egg in her nest.  And she's have a bit of yolk dried on her beak.  This is obviously not very good mother hen type of behavior, but I figured I'd let her have at a pile of eggs.  Because before I let her sit on eggs, I unsuccessfully tried to break her broodiness by throwing her off the nest about twenty-seven times a day.  For two weeks.  So I finally gave in and let her sit.

Another hen started going broody about a week after I let the other hen set.  She seemed to be a bit more stable, so I figured what the heck.  I was tired of throwing broody hens off nests so I let her sit on twelve eggs.  And every day or so, another egg was cracked or smooshed to oblivion.  Now this morning she had yellow tell-tale signs of infanticide on her beak.  She is down to five eggs now.  And the pisser about it is that the eggs had developing chicks inside.  I'm not sure what her problem is.  She doesn't seem to purposely break the eggs as most of the damaged eggs were just that, damaged.  Like she was too rough on them and they just cracked.  The shells were pretty solid, so I don't think it's because of thin shells.  But once that egg cracks and she moves them around, it's like a free continental breakfast for her I guess.

It's depressing enough to see underdeveloped chicks die by their own mother's beak, but it also means that I have two totally unproductive hens.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the first broody hen finally eats / breaks her last three eggs.  I guess I'll just go back to tossing her off the nest and hope she finally "gets it" and goes back to laying eggs.  There is less than a week before those eggs should hatch so I guess I don't have to wait long.

I put out a wanted ad in the local paper looking for newly-hatched chicks in the hopes that I could shove a couple under the hen but I've never had luck introducing new chicks to broody hens.  I just end up having to brood the new chicks myself and the whole purpose of having these stupid broody hens is so that I won't have to take care of them.

Long, drawn-out sigh.

Oh, and did I mention that the stupid chickens tore up one of the remaining three melon plants?

Stay tuned for "Why I Love Chickens".  Eventually.  Maybe before winter.


  1. Broody hens have not worked here either. How on earth did my Grandmother always raise her own chickens?

  2. Glad I don't have a rooster. Mine started eating my tomatoes this year for the first time recently. With loaded plants, and a late start, I decided to surround the plants with chicken wire. Works great!

  3. I used to work with someone who had to take care of the chickens at her grandmothers farm when she was young.

    She loved the chickens so much that she is a one-exception vegitarian. The exception is of course: chicken.

  4. Ooo, bad chickens. Egg eaters are especially a problem if they teach others their bad habit. I'm surprised they're still around! Congrats on the chicks though. That's a nice bonus.

  5. I keep thinking I'll let one of my girls sit on a nest but after hearing the woes at Krazo Acres, maybe not!!

  6. I also wonder how it is that people used to raise way more chickens by way of actual mother hens a long time ago. I've had a couple hatch out babies here, but nowhere NEAR the number who have actually tried (and failed miserably). I think that perhaps hens, over time, have actually gotten dumber. Or maybe its that a long time ago, if the broody hen wasn't successful as a mama, it immediately became successful in the stew pot and the farmer moved on to another hen?

  7. I have been taking care of my neighbor's chickens, turkeys, ducks for nearly 3 yrs and have not had any of these problems, except the occassionnall accidently broken egg.But I am trying to acheive the exact opposite of what you ladys are trying to achieve.
    are you sure your birds are getting enough proper nutrition?
    are they stressed from not having enough space to live in?
    I cant tell if your birds are free range or caged. maybe you will have to incubate and have a seperate pen for babys.

  8. I have a similar love hate with my chickens! I had two broody in the coop and it was 110* I ran fans all summer just to keep them alive. The first time I let one sit I found her munching on the inside of the egg like hannibal lector :p This last time they broke every egg by the end of the three weeks. Yesterday I looked at my peppermint plant and thought "hmm maybe I can save it" and came home to it demolished by two of my destructive chickens!!! I love them all, but they make me work a little harder than necessary!