We have three broody chickens. Two weeks ago, the first one had a failed hatch. Two babies made it out of the shell, but appeared to have died immediately. We theorized it could have been bacteria in the nest box or suffocation. We moved her to the broody coop then with the other two chickens (she is actually in a nest right next to her own mother–the hen who hatched her about two years ago is broody again and sitting on a new batch). We thought about replacing her remaining eggs, but since there were still five or six (rather than only two like we thought), we thought we’d give them a few more days. We’d hesitated to move her prior to hatching because we’ve had mixed success with that (sometimes they just give up sitting if they’re moved too soon). So, on the off-chance that she still had any viable eggs, we moved her and the eggs.
After another week and no sign of life, we concluded they’d rotted/died and so Mark went to throw them out and give her new ones. He’d moved her off the nest and was picking up the eggs to toss when he heard her calling/talking to them the way chicken mamas do when eggs are close to hatching. He then thought maybe some of the eggs had been laid in her nest box after the others and that there was still some hope for the remaining five yet. So, he didn’t toss them and put her back. And…when we went out this morning, look what we found!
I wrote about our first ever broody chicken experience in an essay for Midwifery Today called Birth Lessons from a Chicken. One of the main messages was to trust the mother. That message was hit home again today. When you listen to mothers, of any species, and give them the space to follow their instincts rather than trying to mold them to your ideas of the “right way,” they often do amazing things.