I've always heard people using the term 'gone broody' but I apparently never *really* knew what that meant. It's a very drastic event in the life of a hen.
We have chickens that we've had for almost a year and I find them fascinating. A week or so ago Godzilla (the dark ball of fluff on the left) stayed in her coop all day. She didn't come to me when I fed the others and she didn't come out to eat or drink at all. This is unusual as they are free range and are not even locked up at night. I thought she was sick and started worrying about the eggs we'd been eating. I checked on her the next day and her face was planted in the ground, her body flattened and her breathing so shallow it was undetectable. Sadly, I told my girls that Godzilla wasn't going to make it. I was sure she was just about completely dead.
The next day, I decided to get her up and see if she would eat. I wrapped my hands around her. She was very hot, and she growled at me. I lifted her up and she had 8 eggs under her- half which weren't even hers! You see, she's a Silkie and their eggs are half the size of regular eggs. They are like little fairy eggs. She was now sitting on everyone's eggs and hoping that she could hatch a baby chick. I tossed her out and she plopped on the ground as though half dead and didn't move. Her body was fiercely hot and she'd plucked half of the feathers off her chest. For a few seconds she didn't move. Then, to my surprise, she ran off to eat! It's like they are in a coma and have to be knocked out of it. As soon as she ate, she went back in the coop and crashed out. She's depressed and half dead.
So, now, what do I do? She could die because she will not get up to eat or drink without being forced. Do I let nature be and leave her alone? I've thought of this, but the fact they we don't have a rooster is unnatural. You can't have a rooster in the city here and I do not want a full chicken production going on. Broodiness begets broodiness and now Baby Silkie is also brooding right next to Godzilla (although she is up in the picture because I made her). This also means they stop laying eggs. Since they aren't eating, I now have the best fed certified organic squirrels in town.
My other option is that I could buy fertilized eggs and let her experience the greatest joy in the world of hatching a baby chick. I've read that you simply sneak a fertilized egg under her at night and when it hatches she will be so proud of herself! I have to tell you that I LOVE my chickens. I love them almost as much as our dog, in fact. Maybe as much as our cat and definitely more than our rabbits. They are so quirky and they talk to me and want to be carried around. I had no idea I could love a chicken. If you are considering chickens, please get a couple Silkies. They are like smart bunnies with a beak. Fluffy. I have a feeling I'm going with option 2. Anyway, happy Spring xoxoxo