even though it's only the middle of January (already!) one of our buff orpington hens has gone broody.
yesterday when the girls collected the eggs, Dave noticed that this hen was broody. we took her eggs yesterday, but today she was sitting on 7 more! even though we had some broody hens last year, we were not able to successfully hatch out any peeps. (A and B still think that chickens come from the post office...) the failure was partly because we did not move the hen out from the flock soon enough. one broody hen we let sit on her eggs too long before moving her, and then she would not set back. another hen successfully hatched out (only) one peep, but it was soon trampled and muddy in the chicken tractor.
perhaps the key is in several things: removing the hen shortly after she begins to set, and putting her somewhere safe that she can care for her chicks after they hatch out, until they are old enough to fend for themselves. buff orpingtons are known for their broody nature and good mothering, so it seems that the success of hatching out our own peeps lies in the management of the flock.
today i took this hen from the chicken tractor and put her in the high tunnel. she has a little corner with lots of hay, and also fresh water and feed close by. the temperature in there will keep her adequately warm and she'll also be able to scratch around in the greens that are still there from last year. (we never harvested the abundant crop of broccoli and cauliflower that i was hoping for...)
when i checked on her this evening, she seemed very content. i gave her 7 more eggs for a total of 14. we'll see how she does.
I'll keep you posted.