The Australorp hen that was sitting on the large clutch of eggs decided to give up mere days before “hatching day”.
We started with twenty eggs and although fourteen would have been plenty for a hen her size, the other hens kept laying eggs in her nest and she didn’t seem to mind a few extra. Over the course of the first two weeks, only four eggs “exploded”. The rest of the eggs made it through just fine.
The hen was always sitting on the nest when I would check in on her, day or nightfall. Once in awhile I would see her getting food (I provided organic pellets for her) or water for a few minutes before returning to the coop. She turned her eggs, kept the nest clean, and all was right with the world.
With just five days left before “hatching day”, the Australorp abandoned ship. One of the eggs smelled a little ripe, but the others looked fine to me. Perhaps she got bored. Perhaps the one rotting egg was enough to make her leave the nest. Or maybe she had some motherly insight that I missed.
Whatever it was, or wasn’t, we won’t have any chicks this spring. It was really just an experiment to see if any of the hens would become broody, so I’m not terribly disappointed. Maybe we will try again in the fall. But for now I am happy with the thought that the hens will go broody given the opportunity.