She’s been this way for a few weeks now. At first, I thought she was just enjoying lingering in the nesting boxes perched upon the bounty of beautiful colorful orbs each day. Yet soon enough it was clear. She had morphed into a dinosaur-like shrieking pancake that simply did not want me lifting her off the nesting box. She was definitely broody. So each day it has gone on, I pry her from the box, give her a good scratch, a wing rub and send her on her way to poo, eat and drink. However, what happened the other day left me speechless.
Poor Dolly, she has now been brooding in her nesting box for four days. She really wants those babies. Yesterday, Dolly did not lay any eggs. She will typically lay two days in a row and then take a day off. However, we did find out who was laying the large eggs. It was not Tilly after all, it was Oyster Cracker, our big Buff Orpington.
Yesterday, as Dolly has taken residence in the “favorite” nesting box, Oyster Cracker wanted in; never mind that we have two other boxes. She was determined to lay her second egg in the same nesting box that Dolly occupied. She shoved her way in and made herself comfortable. After a couple of hours, I went out to check on them. Oyster Cracker no longer occupied the box. Dolly had made her way back into the center of the box and underneath her warm chest feathers was Oyster Cracker’s egg! I gently slid it out. She made a quiet low growl. I petted her on the back and felt her body. She was toasty warm. I felt her chest. Her crop seemed unusually large for a chicken that was not eating much. I decided that since Christmas was quickly approaching that I probably should take her to the vet and have her crop evaluated.
We have a fantastic vet in our area that treats chickens. I understand that this is a rarity, so I consider myself a very lucky girl. The vet agreed that her crop seemed larger than normal. She also felt that Dolly had become dehydrated. The vet cleaned out Dolly’s crop and filled it with water. She also gave us a medication to help with her digestion. Thank goodness that the crop was not sour and she did not have anything stuck in her crop.
When I opened the coop this morning, Dolly did not come out. She was in her nesting box. I took her out, gave her medicine and then set her free in the run. She did not do much socializing. She scratched a little and ate some corn in the run and then went back to her box. I created a small water dish that I suspended in her nesting box. I also placed a small amount of food near her. The vet said that she could be broody for about 3 weeks. I guess nature will just have to take it’s course. I cannot imagine baby chicks in the middle of Winter. I’m not sure they would survive. I’ll consider this practice for motherhood in the Spring. I just hope she is broody then!
Dolly, a lavender Silkie Bantam, is our best and was our only egg layer up until a couple of days ago. Yesterday when freshening up the three nesting boxes, I found a rouge egg laid in a corner piled under shavings. It was smaller than Dolly’s and pointier; another silkie had a laid an egg. Who laid it is still under going investigation.
Silkie Bantams typically lay approximately three eggs per week. However, Dolly seems to be in overdrive. She has laid an egg everyday. I love getting her fresh eggs daily, but I finally realized why. She wants to start a family.
Amongst the coldest and snowiest days so far this winter, her hormones and maternal drive have begun to overpower her chicken brain. She has babies on the brain. Yesterday, she spent the majority of the day sitting in her favorite nesting box. She just sat and sat and sat. No matter what I put in the run to lure her out, she sat.
I have not been able to touch her at all until yesterday. Typically she is skittish and shys away from me. Yesterday was different. I stroked her back and she purred. I thought that maybe she is not feeling well. I picked her up from the box and held her in my lap. I thought that cooling her down might do the trick. I gave her body a quick check, she seemed fine.
Over the course of the afternoon, I repeated removing her from the box and trying to break her of this broodiness. Each time after I returned her to the coop, she would go into the run, scratch around for about a minute and then return again to the box. Finally, around 3:30pm, I checked. She was still in her box. I felt underneath her body and there it was, a small silkie egg kept warm under the feathers of her breast. I gently removed the egg from underneath her. She then went out into the run. She stayed out with the rest of the flock until it was time to come in for the night. Great, I thought, she has snapped out of it.
This morning, the whole flock came out into the coop to scratch, drink and feed on delicious treats. When I returned from dropping my son off at the bus, I checked on the chickens again. Dolly had returned to her box; sitting on invisible eggs for now. I am not sure how long this will last, but her drive to be a mother is strong. Maybe, we can let her do just that come Spring.