Moving a broody hen

At about the 10 day mark, the forecast took a turn. This weekend should bring a substantial rain storm FINALLY (we’ve been hoping for this all summer). Only now we’re faced with having to move our broody hen, Not Blanch, and her nest. As mentioned in the previous post, she chose a slightly exposed location and one that will guarantee she and her nest get flooded with the 3-8″ of rain we’re expecting this weekend. I stress about the prospect of moving her nest and having her reject her eggs, but know that all of her eggs are doomed if we do nothing.
I decided to relocate her to a large covered dog crate, positioned as close to her original nest as possible. I put a layer of dirt in the bottom of the crate, then straw, and wood chips to fluff it up a bit. I then gathered the dry leaf material she used in her original nest and tried to recreate her masterpiece. This dog crate will serve as her maternity ward or brooding cage.

broody-hen-clutch
I had read that the best time to relocate eggs and a broody hen is at night, but decided against that for my own safety. I don’t like to be out working past sundown alone. I made sure Not Blanch, our broody hen, could see me move each egg carefully to its new position. I wore garden gloves because as any good broody hen will do, she pecked and fluffed and complained each time my hand got close to her. I spoke quietly and gently to her as I worked and once her nest was moved, I moved her too, ignoring her protests.

moving-a-broody-hen
She sat for about 2o minutes, then my heart sank when I saw her pecking around with the rest of the hens. I reminded myself that this was about her usual time to take a break. I checked back a few times and finally saw her trying to make her way back through the maze of odds and ends next to the garage to her nest. I watched her from afar and again my heart sank when she turned around and walked away. She tried a second time and I walked closer to see what she was doing. She seemed to have forgotten that her nest moved.Not Blanch stopped short of the new nest location, where the original nest used to be, then left again. I tried to get her back on the trail by spreading scratch to her eggs but she wasn’t interested and sadly headed back to the general population. I wasn’t ready to give up, so I quickly caught her and placed her back on her nest. Once back on her nest she seemed to be fine.

moving-chicken-nest

I was worried that the commotion of the day’s events had broken her broodiness but currently she seems to have picked up where she left off. I put food and water in the brooding crate with her so I could close the door and leave her in there for a while. I’d hate for her to go for her walk on her break tomorrow when I’m away and get lost on her way back.
After checking on her just before bed she is still sitting on her eggs like a good broody hen.

broody-hen

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