But there is a huge problem. When a hen starts to incubate eggs, there is an expiry day, usually 21 days thereafter. For duck eggs , that date is 28 to 32 days. Other eggs laid later and added to the nest may force the first ones out of the area that the hen effectively can keep warm. Eventually they rot and can explode and man does it stink. Then the flies lay eggs and maggots get into the nests and still, those hens persist.
I have been hesitant to destroy the nests entirely. After all, the moms are hopeful to raise their broods and some of the eggs are truly viable. I did destroy an abandoned nest the other day after the hen hatched only one chick. She left the others. That is not usual because the babies are making noise and the hens are aware of life in the eggs , as are the babies aware of their mothers. That is why it is so hard to rehome a newly hatched chick. The mother hen knows it is not hers and the baby knows the sound of its mother's cluck before it is hatched.
When I destroyed the rest of the eggs, 4 of them had chicks that only needed a few more days to hatch. They were still alive, but barely, because they had been abandoned and got cold. Of course, when the eggs are opened, the babies do die and I felt like ...yeah, I did.
Now, in the two chicken coops, there are many nests with one to two hens fighting over them and others still laying and wanting to claim them as theirs. They really do get crazy.
A bunch of chicks hatched today. I will give the rest of the hens until the end of this coming week and then will take the nests apart and clean the coop. Right now it reeks of rotten eggs and dead things. The flies are having a hay day too. The chicks that hatched today need to be taken out to feed and drink within the next three days or they will perish. If the hens are still sitting on their nests with the chicks, I will have no choice but to remove the eggs and take the coop apart for cleaning and disinfecting.
I am glad I have hens that hatch their own babies, but the way they do it is ridiculous. If all the eggs hatch and the babies survive the ravens, there will shortly be 100 more chickens at the Fat Ewe Farm. Some of them remain as replacement layers and the rest go into the freezer for chicken soup and winter meals. The birds are fairly tough by the fall, and I do try to get them in by the time they are 12 weeks old, but I can only take the time I am given at the butcher's.
Just one more week of crazy hens. No, wait! Have you ever been attacked by a mother hen? Viscious! Some of them would take your head off if they could. And that is a good thing when they are free ranging as they are, but for me, not so great.
At least just one more week of broodies. Yup. That is it. Anyone want to come and help clean the coop?