During the last 48 hours, I’ve noticed a change has come over Miss Moneypenny – she’s turned broody. Now, I’ve often heard the expression “like a broody hen” but it’s only now that I realise the full meaning.
Miss Moneypenny, in the short time we’ve had her, has always been the most vocal of our girls. And in the past month she’s been the most prolific egg-layer. I suppose it’s hardly surprising, when you’ve laid 30 eggs in 31 one days, you get to point where you’d like to sit on them and hatch something out.
Problem is, we don’t have a cockerel, so all of this is going to be a waste of time, but try telling Miss Moneypenny that!
Anyway, I went googling for advice on what to do with a broody hen. Apparently, it’s all related to hormones (obviously) and body temperature. Body temperature rises during the brooding phase so some of the suggestions to “break the cycle” are: isolate the hen in a wire-bottomed cage where air can circulate and cool her down; sit her in a tub of cold water to cool her off; give aspirin (??? – not too keen on that idea).
Having no wire cage to hand, and not feeling brave enough to pick up my fluffed up, hissing hen to dunk her in cold water . . . I phoned the breeder to ask for advice.
What they suggested is: simply to let her sit it out. The breeder said to “sacrifice” a few eggs, and pop those in the nesting box so that Miss Moneypenny has a reasonable-sized clutch to sit on and will therefore stop laying. To mark those eggs with felt pen, so that we know not to eat them later, because they’ll have gone bad by the time she gives up. And to leave her be.
The breeder explained that the brooding cycle lasts around 21 days, and that Miss Moneypenny with probably give up before then, but may continue to sit for the full three weeks. She will only come out to eat, drink and poop at short intervals during the day, so will become physically weaker . . . but that she should come to her senses, and hormones should return to normal when the 21 days are up, if not sooner.
We have a total of 3 nesting boxes in our coop, so the fact that’s she’s nesting won’t stop the other girls from laying. We’ve been inundated with eggs this past month, so I’m sure we’ll make do with eggs from just 2 hens for for coming weeks.
My main worry is that the weather is so HOT at the moment, and I don’t want Miss Moneypenny dying of dehydration! Still, it seems the most “natural” way, just to let her do what Nature tells her to do. And fingers crossed that the other girls don’t decide to follow suit!
If anyone has had to deal with a brooding hen or has other advice, I’d be more than happy to hear from you.