Broody hen signals start of egg search

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This week, I’m back on-piste, on-message, and it’s ... drumroll ... yes, you guessed it. Chickens.

The main topic of conversation this week at Shoogly Towers has been if we have a broody chicken or not. This is a much-anticipated spring event – the first broody hen.

If a lay-dee chook occupies a nest box for days on end, jumping off only occasionally to do he-yew-ge poops and grab a beakful of food, attacks every hand that comes within a 20cm radius, makes a low growling sound, and hunkers down with tail feathers fanned and loft, it’s dun gawn broody.

This means if your lay-dees have a gennulman chicken (i.e. a cockerel) who has, ahem, been looking after them, and you have a nice quiet space and runs with teeny mesh attached, then why not take advantage of nature’s freebie incubator – your broody.

No need for fancy machinery, just let nature take its course.

Pop your broody in her personal nursery, put the eggs in (we usually make a wee nest on the floor, then there’s no danger of new chicks accidentally falling out and dying of cold), a small feeder and drinker, and let her get on with it.

Amazingly, new chicks raised this way are incredibly resilient, usually appearing in the run for a stroll with mum on day two. Once the chicks are hatched, use a teeny feeder with chick crumb and a weeny drinker they can’t fall into and drown. Sorted.

The other hot topic at Shoogly has been which eggs to put under the broody, when she is 100 per cent confirmed as such. There seems to be general agreement that we should buy in some eggs, in a colour which we don’t already have, eg. white or pink. We have a range of blues through to khaki, and brown from beige to deep chocolate, and even the odd speckled one. They look so lovely in the box and our customers love the colourful mix.

The search is on.

So far we have ruled out breeds that don’t lay too well, breeds that lay wee eggs (we only have one bantam, purely for decorative purposes – it’s the Young Master’s), breeds that are particularly flighty (we have some already which are deemed to be generally flightly, and they have been OK to date, but let’s not tempt fate, living close to a road, as we do), ‘boring’ colours (we have quite a few home-bred hens which are black/green, black/brown variants), and breeds with a lot of leg feathers (not great when the Shoogly acres turn to mud in the winter).

So, anyone with a green and red chicken which lays purple eggs, get in touch.