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Bizarre Broody Behavior

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm in need of advice. I have a RIR hen approximately a year old who is a great layer. Yesterday I was collecting eggs around 11am and noticed she was on the nest along with another hen so I let her stay there, thinking she was laying. I did some chores around the coop for about an hour and she never moved. I threw some mealworms and she didn't budge so I just imagined she was "busy" and left.


This morning I went out at 10am and she was on the nest again, I'm not sure she ever moved. I threw more treats, raked the coop, etc. and she was there for a solid two hours at least. I saw her get up after that and I figured she just wanted to take her sweet time laying so I went over to collect eggs and she hadn't laid anything - not even the day before. I grabbed the eggs that were there and moved on. Just before sundown I checked on the hens and everyone was roosting in their spot except her, she was missing. There she was, sitting on the "nest" again. She's going broody right? She was up for a full hour at least later in the day - I thought broodies sit on their nests day and night without getting up. Is she just confused? Does she want to be broody but has poor instincts? Or is she lazy and just wants to sleep on the nest instead of roosting at night? That's not typical behavior for her but I recently rearranged some things in the coop and maybe she's boycotting it?


I'd like to give her eggs to sit on but I don't want to do it if she's just going to forget about being broody tomorrow.

post #2 of 5

worry less, she's doing it normal way. some have to learn and they lose a few eggs along the way. it will only cost a few eggs, so just let her do what comes natural in working out what comes natural.

post #3 of 5

You touched on a LOT of possibilities and are asking a LOT of good questions.  Sadly the answer to most of them is "maybe".  There are a number of reasons she could be spending so much time in the nest.  If she is low on the pecking order, she could be going there to get away from others.  She could be egg-bound or simply just having trouble passing an egg.  It happens.  She could also be going broody.  The best advice I can give is continue to observe her.  Observation was my second greatest asset (BYC is #1!) when first starting out with chickens.


Where broodiness is concerned, it's a crap-shoot with every hen.  No two exhibit the same behavior and past-performance is not necessarily indicative of future success.  Unlike us talking monkeys, there is no parent to explain the birds and bees to your chooks.  They rely purely on instinct for their behavior.  You ponder if she is "just confused" and rightly so.  It is a confusing time EVERY time dependent on surges of hormones and varying levels of instinct based on the lineage/genetic-lottery of your line.  Observation is key.


I like to see a potential broody set for four days/nights in a row.  That's just a rule of thumb that let's me gauge how serious she might be about the process.  If she's demonstrated that base-level of instinct/hormones by only coming off the nest once or twice a day for less than an hour to eat/drink/poop then I'll likely give her a small clutch of eggs to see how she does.  There are way too many variables to track so just have some fun with it see what happens.  There will likely be a lot of failures (especially from first-timers) but that's just nature.  :P 

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

GodofPecking, you are totally right. If I let her sit on some eggs and she decides she's not serious about this broody thing, then I'm only out a couple of eggs.


Monguire, I can't thank you enough for your input. I never expected of all my hens for my hatchery quality RIR to want to sit eggs. I'll observe her for a little while and see if she decides she's serious about brooding and maybe slip some fertile eggs under her. Her and I will just have to learn together whether or not she's going to commit and ready to be a momma. If she fails to go through with hatching some of the eggs then I'm not losing too much. I have quite a few laying hens at the moment so her egg a day won't be missed too badly.


<3 Many thanks, I'm so grateful for BYC!

post #5 of 5
Originally Posted by bellmare View Post

GodofPecking, you are totally right. If I let her sit on some eggs and she decides she's not serious about this broody thing, then I'm only out a couple of eggs.







meh, I just had to get caring out of my system. I'm ok now.

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