Egg Smashing, Egg Eating, Broody Hen

Betsy is the sweetest little hen. I take her to preschools and forty children line up to pet her. See? I don’t even have to hold her. She sits in my lap.

But, Betsy has been crazy-broody. Angry, raspy-voiced, flattened in the nesting box broody. It’s been hot. I’ve ignored her. Which was a mistake.

Animals have the uncanny ability to get into trouble when you are running out the door and don’t have time to deal with them. Yesterday, about ten minutes before I had to pick my son up at school, I checked on the flock. It was hot and I wanted to make sure there was enough water. Betsy, in her bad, shove everyone out of her box mood, had stomped on eggs (that other hens laid that day) smashing them. Once broken, she recognized the eggs for what they are, food. By the time I looked in, her white breast was shellacked bright yellow with dried-up yolk. It looked like half of her had been coated with a thick coat of paint. On a humid, very hot day, this could be lethal. I scooped her up and hurried over to the outside faucet. I held her chest under running water, working the baked-on yolk off bit by bit. It certainly brought her elevated broody body temperature down! I now had about three minutes before I had to pick up my son. I tossed Betsy in the broody coop, gave her some fresh water and headed out.

A few hours later, back home, I checked on Betsy. Despite the 90º temperature the air was so humid that she was yet to dry. Thunderstorms threatened. So, instead of making dinner, I brought her inside, got out the hair dryer, and went to work. Her crop was the size of a golf ball. On a tiny bantam, that is way too huge. I could feel sharp bits of egg shell in it. Now I was worried about impaction. So, I mixed some canola oil and yogurt and offered it to her. Betsy is a hen who is usually eager to eat and is used to being fed from my hand. She was too stuffed to even peck. I dipped her beak in the concoction and she swallowed a little.

I finished the blow drying and put Betsy back in the coop just as the storm hit. It was raining buckets. Even running as fast as I could back to the house, I got soaked.

This morning Betsy was put right back in the broody coop. She has water and a small piece of watermelon. She doesn’t have any other food – her crop is getting smaller but it’s still full enough. I know she’s fine. She’s pooping and she’s glaring at me.

I’m hoping it’ll be only two more days before she back to her sweet self. I’m also hoping she’ll forget about the egg eating. When werewolves turn back into people they forget their evil ways, right?


    • Yes, she is! When you buy from a dedicated breeder, this is the quality that you can get. I bought her and Coco from Don Nelson, in Rhode Island. He’s a poultry judge and he breeds bantam white leghorns. Coco is even typier than Betsy!

  1. How can something so small and normally so loveable be such a worry… and such a crab? Hope your little darlin’ is feeling better and more herself soon. I’ve got a bantam RIR who lays for 2 weeks,goes broody for 2 weeks, lays for 2 weeks, continue until molt in fall then lay nothing till spring. If she weren’t so darned cute I’d replace her with something that produces regularly for me. Currently she’s just walking around doing that annoying/annoyed bock bock and all the other girls are looking fed up with her. She’s not hogging the nest, yet, so do I put her in the isolation chamber now or wait till she’s nest-bound? I usually wait and she’s herself in 3-4 days.

    • These little ones go broody a lot, don’t they! I’m waiting for Coco to go broody again… I wouldn’t use the broody coop until she’s full-out broody. That is, if the other hens can put up with her!

  2. Terry…Now I am worried about feeding eggs back to my birds that have been on Tylan? How smashed up do you make the eggs before you give them to the birds? I kind mash them up with a fork but they are not “mashed” like potatoes? I am sick collecting these eggs and then doing that! Can’t wait until we are done with all this medicine thing! BTW…Coco is a beauty! And she knows it?????? Loved the story!

    • The soluble Tylan’s withdrawal time is 12 days after the last dose. I use an egg slicer – shell and all and that minces the hard-cooked egg fine enough that they eat it up.

      Yes, my bantam white leghorns are pretty birds, with attitudes to match!

  3. Oh, my gosh. What an ordeal. It’s amazing what one tiny little creature can put you through without a moment’s notice! I’m glad she’s doing better, and hope she’s back to being her sweet self in a couple of days. She’s beautiful.

  4. I think she will forget about eating eggs. They were broke in a scuffle and not by her pecking at them. So my thoughts are it’s not a learned behavior more happenstance.

  5. doesn`t feeding them eggs with Tylan extend the time that you shouldn`t eat them?

    • Correct me if I am wrong, Terry..But I think the boiling process might have something to do with it?

  6. I have a few birds that will eat a broken egg, but they don’t seem to be able to work out that that yummy stuff is inside an unbroken one. Gladys last week ate one of the infertile eggs she was sitting on, clearly fed up with me tucking it back under her when she knew it was useless and kept booting it out!

    • Yeah, when I was a kid I’d break eggs so the hens could drink the yolk- they loved it! But they never figured out how to do this on their own.

  7. Lol, animals do love to get into trouble at the most inconvient times. This the second laugh I got today about white leghorns.
    At least though you don’t have a one year old human inmprinted roo, that loves to mate with white tennis shoes and feet.

    • LOL, oh Kit, that’s hysterical!! i can just see the little roo and a new pair of keds; love at first sight :)

      • It’s not a little rooster, it’s a bigger white leghorn, who loves his owner’s feet. The story and topic know up to eight pages on the backyard chicken website forum. Don’t know if your a memember, but I have found it well worth my time to read. Here is the link if you are intrested

        She even has a picture of him asleep on her lap after he demanded she pick him up and take him. Apparently he loves to fall asleep on her lap while she is on the computer.
        And picking him up to correct him is not working, because he loves to be held all the times, and just starts to coo when she does. Their are some other stories about roosters “loving” their owners, even one that took to mating with sandwich containers.

  8. She is a beauty! Last year I brought home some Japanese Banty hens…although one turned out to be a roo. They are beautiful birds, but didn’t really make sense for me since I had to keep them separate. So they were re-homed.
    I’m amazed that your pretty girl will sit on your lap without moving. You are the ultimate chicken mama!

  9. I have one full sized white leghorn…a gift three years ago. Love her quirky, stop-action way and wanted to get more. Finally found some this spring in with a mix of Wyandottes, and got two…which have turned out to be the smallest bantam leghorns I’ve ever seen. One is named Pearl, and is already sprouting that gorgeous leghorn banner of a tail. The other, named Peanuts, is still half Pearl’s size; though healthy and developing properly, she is a true miniature. Eggs the size of acorns later on, I think! The girls are totally not true to type, but they are welcomed most happily into my flock! Leghorns have gotten a bad reputation, which has only come from industrial abuse of this lovely breed.

  10. I’m sorry that you and Betsy are experiencing problems, but she is one good-looking hen.