The mystery of the missing broody hen


6 Years
Apr 20, 2014
Our hen, Samantha, a barred rock has gone missing before, but she always came back the next morning. In early August of this year, she was gone 3-4 days and then came back. Once in a while, I would notice her make a bee-line for the neighbor's yard and disappear in the brambles on the other side of the fence. I could even hear her do her egg song now and then from somewhere in the vast neighbor's yard. (She has 10 acres). On about August 11, she disappeared for good. I have suspected that she was broody and decided to set on her eggs. I just couldn't find her nest. So if she started setting on the 11th, I would have expected her to hatch out chicks sometime around September 1. Then, I don't know what to expect she would do after that. Probably set with her brood and keep them warm for a couple of weeks? Would she move around? How does she not starve?

Ok, so the rest of the story is that several times I have gone over there to look for where she might have gone. It wasn't until last week that I found an egg shell in a place that is out in the open and had been mowed fairly recently (It had a trace of blood in it, so I thought it might have hatched a chick). So I looked everywhere around there for feathers, poop, signs of scratching, etc. Nothing. Then yesterday, I was in the mood to look for her some more. This time, I found 4-5 more egg shells just 15 feet from where I saw the first. They were all in different places under a cedar tree. They were not crushed, but mostly whole, with a part of the top side broken away. Traces of blood were inside--which I assume is a sign they were hatched not just pecked out and eaten. I kept looking in that vicinity and discovered a hidden place with a lot of downy feathers and nest-like shape that looked like where she had been sleeping. There were no eggs or egg shells here though. Weird. I looked and looked, and listened and didn't hear any peeps or chicken noises. Should I try back at dusk when she is going to bed?

Now I have to say that I did lose 2 other chickens recently without a trace (they hadn't even started laying yet) and I can only assume they were taken by coyotes. I asked all the neighbors and none of them had seen them. So Samantha might have been caught by the coyotes also. But I keep seeing signs that she is still around.

I would love to hear your insights into chicken behavior and any guesses you might have about what she could be doing if she is still around and safe. Thanks!


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