Weeks ago one of our hens, a Buff Minorca, got broody. For a couple of weeks I stole her egg collection each day while she screamed like a pteradactyl and threatened to peck my eyes out. I calmly explained that she was a minorca, a career girl...she wasn't supposed to get broody, plus, it is winter (though in her defense it doesn't feel much like winter here in TX).
Tired of the pteradactyl noises and somewhat more convinced that she wasn't going to give up, I finally let her keep some eggs....she sat and she sat and she sat and at about Day 18 I decided to consult Google and figure out how to candle eggs and how to interpret what I was seeing. To my amateur and Google-trained eye it appeared as if the eggs were indeed full of chicks....what to do?
I had read the section on broody hens in my Storey's Guide and rather than read it again I just went with what I remembered. I moved the hen and her eggs to a brooder thinking that if they actually hatched the big chickens would peck them to death.
Once in the brooder, she shunned the eggs and paced the confines. An hour later she was quietly hunkered down in the straw studiously ignoring her eggs which had grown quite cold. Well, crap!
Consulting Storey's again I find that you should not move a broody and her eggs after the 16th day....oops!
Since, I figured I'd just frozen those little chicks I put her back in the coop and put the eggs back too. She quit, after weeks and weeks and weeks she just gave up, BUT a calm, docile and much-less-pteradactylish Dominique hen took over and after three more days of sitting.....a little Solstice miracle.
I thought I was hearing birds outside the coop when I heard the cheeping, but it just sounded so much like a baby chick I investigated. Picture this...on my knees in the poopy coop picking up each egg and holding it to my ear...they were all silent, but the very last one was loudly cheeping. Upon closer examination, a tiny patch was cracked out. Within 15 minutes, the egg (which was rocking and cheeping) was cracked all around and out popped PIP....who now lives in my bathtub.
I've candled the other eggs and think there might be a couple more chicks and there is one that is definitely about a Day 5 embryo.....Pip needs friends, so we are just going to wait and see what happens. If the Dom wants to keep sitting then so be it, who am I to thwart their natural instincts?