Issue 89 is out now
The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

30th April 2019

Here's a quick guide to what to expect from your hens during the spring months. Find out why they are so handy for pest control in the garden, why it's important to protect seedlings and what to do about a broody bird who won't come off the nest.

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

30th April 2019

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

30th April 2019

Provide plenty of water

Gardens and chickens are thirsty this time of year so keep checking that they have enough water.

Allow free range of the garden

Let your chickens roam in the garden and they will pick off pests like slugs and flies, you may want to protect young shoots though as chickens can be quite partial to tender young plants.

Watch for broodiness

Your chickens may go broody around now. To prevent this make sure you collect the eggs regularly. In some chickens the maternal instinct is stronger than others and it can happen at any time.

How to tell a broody hen

It is quite easy to spot because the broody hen will simply sit in the nesting box (or flower pot!) and refuse to budge. She may also make a peculiar growling noise if disturbed and become quite aggressive. However, unless your chicken has been near a cockerel within the last seven days the eggs will not be fertilised. and will not hatch into chicks. If you are not removing the eggs every day there is more chance that a chicken will go broody. If you do nothing, your broody chicken will stay like this for up to three weeks (the incubation time for eggs).

What to do

It is not necessarily a problem but it will prevent your other chickens from laying in the nesting box. You can remove her from the nest and block the nesting box so that she cannot get in but she will probably just find someplace else to create a nest. If you keep lifting her and removing the eggs, after a couple of days she will lose the urge to sit. Some chicken fanciers suggest putting golf balls in the nest to dissuade her. I think that gently taking her off the nest once a day to ensure she gets some food, water and fresh air and a chance to stretch her legs is the best course of action. Wait it out and she’ll eventually come off the nest.

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