Friday, April 15, 2011

Broody Hatching Disaster

I placed eggs under my broody buff orpington just 3 days ago. I already have a failed hatch. 100% failed. Argh!

Worse, it is a mystery. But I have my suspicions....

I went to remove Buffy from the nest today so she could get some food, water, and exercise. She squawked and pecked and fussed and huffed. But once she was off the nest there were no eggs to be found!

Eight eggs vanished into thin air. There were no sticky spots. There were no eggshells. There were no signs of struggle. Just empty space where my carefully hoarded eggs used to be.

Doctor Dolittle and I examined the coop for evidence and found none, so we fell back on speculation. We considered human theft, but rejected that due to the undisturbed gate of annoyance and latching system of despair. We considered snakes due to the recent sighting of both copperhead and cottonmouth venomous snakes, but rejected it since Buffy would probably have blinded them or been bitten. We considered crows, rats, opossums, raccoons, and foxes, but rejected all of them since Buffy would have forced them to deal with her before surrendering the eggs. We reluctantly considered that Buffy might be the culprit.

Another egg eater? Were her eggs too thin for her enormous bulk? Did she grow so ravenous that she consumed her potential offspring?

Could be....

So, for now Buffy and her new clutch of randomly selected eggs are residing in chicken jail with food and water right in front of her. This ought to reduce possible predation by snakes, crows, rats, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and the other chickens. Vigorous patrols by Doctor Dolittle and a certain part-time chicken farmer should limit the risk of two-legged predators. This leaves Buffy.

If Buffy eats these eggs, then she will be fired as a mommy chicken. Lucky for her we now have two desirable nest boxes that the other hens will actually use.

Yet another high maintenance hen. *sigh*

Update: The eggs were still under her this morning. But she rejected the nest box in favor of the jail floor which has lots of wood shavings. Doc says she probably got too warm.

Update: People keep saying it must be a snake because of no mess and that a hen in broody trance will not notice a snake under her. I really appreciate this information, but I hope you will forgive me for wishing it not to be so, especially since the cottonmouth is still at large. Snakes are creepy.

Update: Learning the new routine.

Update: Y'all were right. I was wrong. It was a snake. Here is the proof.


  1. Still could have been a snake. A few years ago I put my under a hen to check eggs and wrapped my hand around something scaley. At first I thought is her leg and that is was badly swollen for some reason. Feeling something tickle the back of my hand I lifted the hen to see black coils, my hand holding one, and a flicking tongue touching the back of my hand. The hen was fine and I dispatched the 76 inch black snake.

    A broody hen will stay in her trance while a snake feasts and leaves.