I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I've got two hens that just went broody and no place to put them. My brooding area is both a little small to house two broodys and also is currently occupied by a group of overflow chicks, from my last broody hen.
The hens are first time brooders and currently in nesting boxes. They don't want to commit to a single box and keep moving around, swapping boxes in quest of newly laid eggs. Rather then trying to mark eggs and keep up with their antics, I was thinking of just putting a few golf balls in each nest box, letting the broodies sit wherever they wanted, and removing any real eggs at the end of each day. At the same time, I would start a batch of eggs in the incubator and plan on handing them chicks come hatch day.
My concern is that they will eventually sense that golf balls are not real eggs and quit, leaving me with a group of incubator chicks to raise up (which I can do, but would really rather not). It that a valid concern? Or, would it be better to leave a marked "sacrificial" egg in a couple of boxes, hope they manage to hatch them, but at a minimum, hope that it keeps them more interested in brooding until I can get chicks hatched out in the incubator.
For years I lamented not having more broodies. Now I've got my hands full!
And yes, I need a bigger coop.
Why didn't anyone tell me about chicken math?