When our first hen went broody, I waited a couple of weeks to separate her from the rest of the flock. She was really cranky and would puff up and squawk at me whenever I checked on her. She would even peck at me if I reached under to count the eggs. I wrote the date on them to keep track and made sure there wasn’t too much of a spread on the dates.
Looking back, I should have separated her sooner. Once she was isolated in the smaller side of the coop and not being stared at by other hens wanted to lay their eggs, she really seemed more content. She would still puff up and squawk at me, but didn’t have to protect her precious nest as frequently when it was just me making sure she had fresh food and water twice a day. I also should have paid closer attention to her and not been so worried about upsetting her when I checked in.
Wednesday morning I looked in and she was off the nest. I quickly closed the door and went about my other chores, thinking she was just eating and drinking. I went back later that day and she was in the same spot in front of the feeders, puffing up and protesting my presence. Something seemed off and I suddenly realized I could hear a baby chick peeping! I reached under her and found one tiny little yellow fluff ball with legs.
My excitement quickly turned to worry as I realized the remaining eggs were abandoned in the nest. A quick check confirmed my fears, the eggs were cold. I carefully placed the chick back on the nest and momma hen resettled herself on the nest.
Unfortunately, when I returned after work that day, momma hen and the chick were once again off the nest and the eggs were barely warm. If there had been more chicks, I would have removed them and left the nest for momma hen but one chick would not do well by itself. It was more important for the baby to stay with momma. So I reluctantly gathered up the eggs and placed them under a heat lamp with a thermometer and a warm damp washcloth over them. We were unprepared for this and do not have an incubator (yet).
It was bittersweet but we are still elated at the birth of our first farm animal on the homestead. We are carefully monitoring the eggs and hoping for the best. Below is a video of the baby chick with momma on Saturday morning.