Our flock is in lockdown these days thanks to the avian flu, so we moved our mama hen’s broody box from the barnyard into the layer coop’s attached, roofed pen. Now, we thought, she can at least get her babies out for a wander, even if they can’t free range. They can sleep in the broody box at night.
Broody had other ideas though, that evening she tried to put her kids to bed in the main coop rather than the broody box. But to stay warm enough, little chicks need to sleep under momma in a nest. They don’t have feathers yet, except on their wings. We tried to convince mama otherwise by locking her and her family in the broody box for a few more days, but nope.
As soon as I opened the broody box again, off to the main coop they went, to practice going up and down the long ramp. At that point I threw up my hands. Mama clearly wasn’t going to listen to me. Nor could I leave the little family confined to the broody box for four more weeks, until the babies were old enough to roost. It was important that they be out and about with mama, having adventures.
That night when I went out to lock the coop, mama had gotten all her babies inside. I could hear one or two crying up at her from the coop floor. The tears didn’t last long though, by the time I finished chores and went back to check on the situation, all was quiet. Stubborn mama had taught all four of her kids to fly up (!) and snuggle under her on the roost. The roost is a 2×4 laid on its side, so it’s wider than the babies, which helps.
I’m glad my chickens are so adaptable. That’s just what one needs to get through a pandemic, as we have all learned over the past couple years!