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Community talks education, immigrants’ rights, climate change with state senators -

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Q&A: Khalif Nunnally-Rivera, an advocate for access and affordability for underrepresented students -

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Plant-Based Nutrition club promotes healthier, sustainable diets on campus -

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Rolling tobacco and high profits for iRollie -

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UMass softball to kickoff conference schedule on Thursday at Boston University -

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UMass baseball coach Mike Stone trying not to dwell on 2017 being his final season -

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Fresh off NCAA Championship appearance, UMass diver Emma Roush looks ahead -

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Notebook: UMass men’s soccer adds junior college transfer to roster for next season -

March 29, 2017

Newly appointed UMass defensive line coach Dave Wissman has taken interesting road to Amherst -

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Student Union Craft Center serves as an open space of expression for students -

March 29, 2017

An ode to Amherst’s American Legion -

March 29, 2017

Letter: The Graduate Employee Organization wants to empower those who are marginalized -

March 29, 2017

To counter and balance: A place for conversation in the opinion pages -

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Activism can change the world -

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Active Minds strives to start conversation about mental health, end stigma -

March 28, 2017

Native American Student Association plans for powwow after travelling to Native Nations Rise March in Washington D.C. -

March 28, 2017

Black Student Union aims to be a strong voice for the African-American community on UMass’ campus -

March 28, 2017

UMass Students for Reproductive Justice continue fighting for student rights -

March 28, 2017

UMass notebook: Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry reportedly interviewed for a second time Monday for men’s basketball head coaching vacancy -

March 28, 2017

UMass softball anxiously awaits start of conference play with doubleheader against BU looming Thursday. -

March 28, 2017

The truth about chickens: The butts and the beaks

(Brianna Swierk)

(Brianna Swierk)

A concept that most people don’t know, or at least the term for it, is a broody hen. This is a fancy term that means she is in the mind-set to not lay eggs and instead sit on eggs with the goal to hatch them out. Whether she will be sitting on a nest with fertile eggs, fake eggs or no eggs is entirely up to the human. In this article we will use broody and sitting interchangeably.

To start with, some breeds are broodier than others, like the cochins are broodier than Black Australorps which don’t become nearly as broody (if at all). In lay-mans terms: cochins are more likely to become broody with greater frequency than Black Australorps so if you want a lot of eggs choose the Black Australorp. However, this is a general trait of each breed and therefore, is not a reflection for all individuals.

When a hen is broody she will not lay eggs, hence the choosing of a Black Australorps over cochins, because she is in nesting mode; she wants eggs to sit on and hatch. But when there are no eggs she will, nevertheless, make a nest and still exhibit signs of broodiness. The signs we have seen with our own chickens, in one particularly broody Buff Cochin, is: irritability, sitting on the nest for long periods of time, a tendency to bite and/or peck-even the hand that feeds it, feather fluffing to become larger and an overall clear sign of “Get away from me.” This is just a territorial display that tells others ‘this is my nest and my eggs go away.’ If she is in a broody state baby chicks can be placed under her so that she believes these chicks are hers and she may care for them. This can only be done at night, though, because chickens have poor eye sight and are not the brightest bulbs on the tree; so the next morning she will assume these are her babies that hatched out without her knowledge during the night. If she knows the chicks are not hers she will reject them.

What is most amusing would be that some chickens will sit when there are no eggs. We are not sure why, perhaps just a deep routed instinct to be broody and create a nest. Either way, you get a chicken that will remain on a nest until her broodiness is over be it when the eggs hatch and you now get a very protective mama or when she snaps out of it (which for our chickens is after about a month).

We have been talking so far about the definition of broodiness in the natural sense but there is another definition used by those in the commercial industry of poultry. For them broodiness also refers to the upkeep of baby chickens in an artificial environment; a large building where temperature is maintained until the chicks are old off to be moved to another building in preparation of them either being layers or broilers (meat birds).

In summary, broodiness is either when a hen’s mindset changes to one where she nests and hatches out eggs or when the poultry industry raises chicks in an artificial environment.

Brianna and Rebecca Swierk are Collegian Contributors and can be reached at bswierk@umass.edu and rswierk@umass.edu.

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