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Dealing with Broody Silkies

By Inga Ladd

Really, why argue with a hen? We are human. Humans are advanced thinking mammals that should have more sense if you believe the rhetoric! Hens are simple birds, an example of an avian which is probably a descendant of the dinosaurs if you've been following the last few issues of National Geographic. Remember, the broody Silkie hen is a simple little avian following the dictates of an instinct as old as time. We chose to breed Silkies because of their fluffy appearance, their beauty, their gentleness, their excellence as mothers of all kinds of chicks. . . Ah, their excellence as mothers! Don't forget that Silkies were bred to BROOD!

I'll hop down off my soap box. When breeding Silkies, it can be quite a frustrating task to capture those fertile eggs. With luck, the favorite Silkie hen will have been penned with the mate you chose for her for at least 10 days before she begins to lay. More likely, you'll pen her up and wait three months for those eggs! Once she starts to lay, you will carefully and quickly collect the eggs she lays in hopes of improving your flock with chicks of know parentage from this excellent pair. You will carefully and quickly collect those eggs because you believe the popular wisdom that informs you that eggs laying around is a sure way to cause an otherwise good laying hen to get broody. In spite of the popular wisdom about egg gathering, the Silkie hen will only lay an average of about 15 or 20 eggs before going broody. In my experience, the range is closer to 2 to 30 eggs with only the unusual hen laying anything over 10 eggs before deciding she wants to hatch a few for herself.

I mentioned the "luck" word a bit earlier. Sometimes, you'll notice a nice Silkie hen laying. You'll immediately pen her with a carefully chosen mate and mark the calendar for the day with the eggs should be the offspring of the cockerel you've chosen. As I mentioned earlier, 10 days is the average waiting period to be fairly confident of the sire of the anticipated eggs. I will almost guarantee (having done this myself many times) that by the time the ten days have lapsed, you'll be lucky to get 2 or 3 eggs before that Silkie hen goes broody!

What can be done? You must outsmart that simple little avian.... 

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