Backyard Chickens, Broody Chickens, Chicken Behaviors, Chicken Health, WWOOF USA

Brood sounds a lot like Rude… Coincidence? I think not.

“To the broody hen the notion would probably seem monstrous that there should be a creature in the world to whom a nestful of eggs was not utterly fascinating and precious and never-to-be-too-much-sat-upon object, which it is to her.” –William James

 

… and that creature is me. Not to say that I don’t think eggs are a wonderful thing, because let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be working on a chicken farm if I didn’t. For me, eggs are an essential part of breakfast and baking cakes… but not much else. However, I’m not the one who squeezes an egg out of my body almost 260 days a year.

 

            Before laying an egg a hen will experience an increase in hormones, which usually returns to normal after the egg is laid. If the hormone level remains high, you may find yourself with a broody hen. This hen will do what she can to protect the eggs that she just forced out of her little chicken body. Broody hens will puff up their feathers, make terrifying noises, peck at you (which actually does hurt), and rip out their breast feathers in order to keep the eggs warm. She will not leave the nesting box except to eat, drink, and go potty once each day. Where as this is annoying for someone trying to collect eggs, the hens are just doing what their hormone crazed bodies are telling them to do. 

 

            Hens will often find a dark and private location to attempt to hatch their eggs. A larger hen will be able to incubate around 10 medium sized eggs, whereas a normal sized hen can incubate around 5. While this fact may fill your head with heartwarming scenes of baby chicks running around your backyard, unless the hen has had “relations” with a rooster, the eggs that she intends to hatch will be infertile. So if you want your hen to keep producing your morning eggs, there are ways to manage this. To get your hen to stop sitting on her nest of eggs:

 

  • Collect eggs daily, as many times as possible.
  • Remove the hen from the nest when you collect the eggs.
  • Close off access to the coop and nesting boxes during the day.
  • Separate the broody hen from the rest of the chickens for a few days and place it in a wire-bottom cage with only fresh food and water.

On the other hand, if your hen has had “relations” with a rooster these eggs could

actually become the cute little baby chicks you imagined. It will take a hen 21 days to hatch the fertile eggs. The hen should be kept in a safe place and have food and water nearby. And 3 weeks later… baby chicks!

 

Broody Mother & Chicks

Buff Orpington Mother Hen

 

Eggs are wonderful. Chickens are wonderful. Broodiness is not… but it’s better to have a broody chicken than no chicken at all.

By: Kristen Kelly

WWOOFer 

WWOOF-USA | Dare 2 Dream Farms

Advertisements
Baby Chicks, Backyard Chickens, Farming, WWOOF USA

Our Farm’s First WWOOFers

As a couple of young farmers, we get a lot done during the day. This year we have been so blessed that we are staying really busy and we’ve almost reached the point where we couldn’t continue to move forward with our business because we were spending nearly all of our 7 day work weeks on farm management and sales. In November, we visited a farm in Santa Barbara owned by a couple friends of ours, Kevin and Lauren Hanson, who are trying to revive an old avocado orchard. They had a group young, spunky, and passionate people out there working happily to help them reach their goals – WWOOFers. I had heard of the program, and loved the idea, but never imagined we had the capacity to open up our farm for work-stays. Kevin gave us the rundown and it sounded too good to be true. We dragged our feet of course, not sure how to provide them with a place to stay, and then got a call from a couple of women who wanted to come work. We threw together an old motorhome with cute thrift store finds, and voila! Jeremy picked them up from another farm in Carmel Valley. The were soon after joined by their friend.

 

We have had such an amazing experience with them! Since they are our first WWOOFers, we are delighted to share it with you. For those of you who are not familiar with WWOOF – it stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a work-stay program designed to connect people with host farms in a mutually beneficial working relationship where knowledge and skills are shared. The program has a chapter in almost any country you can think of, including WWOOF-USA. This is where we get to thank the WWOOF Organization as a whole and WWOOF-USA specifically for creating an environment rich in knowledge and growth that grooms our future generations of farmers, or even just our future generations of responsible citizens!!

 

Our first WWOOFers came to California from Georgia. Their names are Katie, Brooke, and Chaz – and they have been so helpful! Katie is excellent at gardening, Brooke has a great eye for photography, and Chaz has learned he has a knack for construction. They’ve all learned to drive manual transmission, how to care for chickens, build coops, and so much more.

 

We’ve also had a great time with them: homemade pasta nights, a seven mile hike with the puppies, corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day, getting baby pigs, sightseeing trips to Los Angeles, and game nights. And tomorrow morning we will be milking goats in Santa Barbara with one of our favorite people, Emma Fowler with the Isla Vista Food Co-op, and catching a Jalama Burger on the way home to catch our first hatch of Lavender Orpingtons and Olive Eggers for the year. Life is good. The girls will be with us until March 28th, and Chaz will be here until April 10th. Then we will be looking for our next set of WWOOFers… any volunteers?

 

For fun, here is a peek at one of the pictures Brooke took with our Canon 50D.

 

 

And, as I promised! The winner for the Free T-Shirt from our last blog is Tammy! Please email me with your address and preferred size, and it will ship to you on April 10th. If you didn’t win, you have until the end of the month to Pre-Order your Dare 2 Dream Farm T-Shirts! 

 

Thanks for your support everyone!