Old Hen/Old Trick

I believe that when you have a rabbit living with hens, that she should have her own house. Candy, our first bunny that lived outside with the chickens, had a hutch. She didn’t allow the chickens in, except once in awhile a well-behaved hen was invited to join her for a tete-a-tete.

Of course, the animals don’t necessarily agree with what I think is right. Phoebe lived in her hutch for about a week and then said, I’d rather live in the coop. Meanwhile, the hens took one look at that rabbit house and said, This is the best place to lay eggs. Ever.

And so Phoebe has her hay and rabbit pellets in her favorite corner of the coop. And the hens all go into the hutch to lay their eggs. So, when I noticed the hens hesitating to go up the ramp, I wondered what was up. I lifted the lid and saw this,

betsy on eggs

Full-sized White Leghorns, like Twiggy, never go broody, but, the bantam version does, and in her day, Betsy was a seriously setting hen. However, Betsy at the age of 7, is the Grand, Very Old, Dame of the flock. She hasn’t laid an egg for years. I can’t remember the last time she was broody. Well, she is now. This has now been going on for a couple of weeks.


Twiggy likes to lay her egg first thing in the morning.



But look who’s already there. And she’s already claimed Nancy Drew’s egg.



You don’t mess with this little hen.



  1. And look how she has sharpened up that beak to deliver the jab to try and keep the other hens out! ;-)

    Count yourself lucky Terry I have one Speckled Sussex and four bantams broody at this time. I only have four nesting boxes. It’s like I-270 here at 5 o’clock, a stand still.

  2. Goodness, there is always drama going on at Little Pond Farm! Does Betsy “attack” you when you gather up the eggs?

  3. What lovely photos! 7 years is such a good age for a hen. My 3 1/2 year old girl is really showing her age now (she is a hybrid – warren). I suppose different breeds of chicken have different life span expectancies. Lovely tale!!

  4. Aww, her last chance to be a momma. Get that girlssome fertilized eggs! ;)

  5. Betsy has such a bright red comb….My broody ancona`s comb is a dull pink colour. She has been broody for well over a month so I expect that is normal.

  6. The little ones are fierce aren’t they! My little Sweet Pea gives the big girls a good run when she is broody lol

  7. I’ve a dutch bantam playing incubator for a Rhode Island egg now. She’s been broody off and on, but as soon as we left one egg (marked) in her box, she was on it tighter than the shell (and I’ll say, these shells are definitely tougher than store-bought eggs: quality is evident in more than taste). Odd question though: do you have or deal in roosters? I’ve no trouble from mine, just curious if you have them or deal with them or their antics.

    • I’ve never kept roosters. My hens are too enclosed to have a rooster safely and comfortably be housed with them. And, my neighbors are within earshot so I don’t want my chicken keeping to bother them.

      • It is amazing that 60 or 70 years ago most of us probably had roosters and we were just used to the noise. My friend recorded sunrise in Costa Rica and there must have been at least 10 roosters crowing. Sounded like a hundred. We are not accustomed to that anymore in the burbs.

  8. I have a little Silkie, and when she goes broody she gets called Cujo due to her aggressive demeanor she adopts during the period.

  9. Does she stay in the hutch day and night or do you move her to the coop at night?

  10. This is off topic, but I am wondering if you might be able to answer an egg question. I buy my eggs at a farmer’s market. They are free range, but not organic. Lately I have been getting 1 or 2 eggs per dozen where the yolk seems to adhere to the membrane at the air pocket. It then rips open when I attempt to dump the egg out of the shell. These make me nervous and so I end up throwing them away. The gentleman I get these from is unsure of the cause. Any ideas? Thanks

    • My best guess is that those eggs got hot. In the summer, if you’re someplace with extreme hot weather, the coops/nesting boxes can be, literally, boiling. Or, the eggs are not properly stored. Does this farmer collect egg 2x a day and then immediately put into refrigeration?

      • Not sure on the collection schedule, but I will ask. And yes the weather is intense – mid to high 90’s everyday and the heat index is in the 100’s! Many thanks!

  11. I have a nesting box question. My two hens won’t use their coop nesting box and wait until I let them out and open the garage door so they can use there favorite spot – a shelf with shipping blankets and a couple rags. It’s not private or enclosed but it’s inside. I’m wondering what I can do to make their own boxes more inviting? I hope that if they were in their coop/run all day they’d use their boxes but it seems like they hold the eggs and dash to the garage even if I’m late letting them out! Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Remove the shelf and the blankets :) Then look at the nesting boxes from their perspective. Is it too dark? Too light? Does the coop get too hot? You could try putting a section of the blanket into the nesting box. Perhaps they like that surface.