A Hidden Egg Nest


Jennifer QuinnI've heard of free-range hens that will run off and make a nest in some hidden location, then reappear three weeks later with chicks in tow. Fortunately, I've never had that experience, since I'm trying to build my flock with outside additions and I need my broody hens to set my purchased eggs under. Besides, with all the predators around I'm surprised when any of my birds survives a night outside.

But when the egg collection from my two hens and four pullets dropped from four or five a day to two or three, and finally to one or none, I began to wonder what was going on. My first thought was that the hens were stressed because I noticed they were being harassed by the guinea cocks who share the same housing, and two of them had become very skittish.

Those two had begun staying away from the rest of the flock most of the time, and a couple of days ago two of them were running around in the coop all puffed up like a turkey and clucking agitatedly. I was especially worried when one of them, Demi, didn't show up at roosting time and couldn't be found anywhere.

After pondering this for a while I decided the best thing to do would be to try and move the guineas to another building that I've reserved for use as a chick nursery and brooding area. As I expected, that turned out to be easier said than done.

Guineas are harder to handle than chickens, and my efforts to catch the first one (by grabbing it off the roost after dark) resulted in its escaping and running out the open door. I managed to catch another one with the net and relocate him, only to realize that it wasn't one of the two aggressive ones that I meant to relocate.

Next morning the escaped guinea was nowhere to be found, so I assume something got him. Sad, and not what I intended, but at least it solved half the problem. When I let the remaining birds out of the coop I was amazed — not to mention relieved — to see my wayward pullet suddenly appear among them.

4/17/2018 9:44:19 AM

Jennifer, and yet another reason why I don't have chickens. :-) My wild turkeys that roam the woods and neighborhood around my garden are good enough for me. I contribute the bug free garden to their presence in the area. Now if I could just get that soaring hawk to eat more field mice, my plants would stay planted.Last year I had a problem with some thing digging the cucumber seedlings out of the ground and eating the roots. So either I grow the seedlings bigger before planting or protect them with screen until they are established. Lots of garden work ahead here in Nebraska. The weather as it seems every where is not co operating with gardening this year. ***** Have a great day in the garden. ***** Nebraska Dave

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