Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Successful hatch from a broody hen

Broody hen

One of our cuckoo marans turned into quite a troublemaker when we moved the flock from the woods to the pasture this spring.  She kept flying over the fence and showing up in the garden, even after we clipped her wings.  I knew she wanted to go broody, but after I discovered her spot in the straw and made it more conducive to laying (adding a chicken waterer and a dish of food so she wouldn't have to leave), she figured that spot was tainted and left it.  So when the hen stopped showing up entirely a week or so later, I wasn't sure whether she'd gone into some predator's belly due to wandering the woods without her rooster, or whether she'd finally found a spot to sit on a clutch of eggs.

Setting hen

"Peep, peep, peep!" greeted me when I entered the barn on May 23.  The sound helped me track down our broody hen in a terrible location on slanted, bare soil up against a hole in the barn wall.  Despite the less-than-perfect conditions, our cuckoo marans had managed to hatch eight perfect chicks out of nine eggs.  The dud had rolled away at some point and gotten too cold to survive.

Hen and chicks eating

Rather than trying to catch her right away, I moved the dish of food and the waterer to the hen's corner.  Unlike our cochin hen, the marans did moan at me when I got close the first time, but she quickly realized I was a help, not a hindrance, and let me approach without attacking.

Hen and chick

Unfortunately, the marans' lower aggressive instinct worked against one of the chicks.  As I was weeding a few days later, I heard squawking from the barn and ran in to discover we were down to seven chicks.  I guess it's necessary to move chicks to a secure location even if they have a mother hen to watch out for them.

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