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How to rehandle misshandled Broodyness???

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

What a mess. I dont know what I'm doing, obviously. I wanted to stay out of the way of their broodyness, but failed. We have deep litter in our coop and there are 2 large top-entry nesting boxes on the ground with 2ft high boarded sides.  Above them is several smaller elevated nesting boxes. Egg production plummeted a few weeks ago and a hen was staying put in one of the large boxes. She was sitting there so long i thought to feed her, but did it kinda carelessly. As I was broadcasting feed within the coop (mostly they're fed outside in the run) I tossed some in the large box short of the broody hen where she could reach it with relative ease. Well she got off the egg pile, jumped out of the box and started eating from the deep littered coop floor. No prob at that point cuz another hen promptly sat down atop the egg pile. But later it looked like the other chickens had gone in there and scratched and pecked the deep litter burying and scattering the eggs. Then no others went in to exhume and gather them together.

 

Maybe we're on track now cuz another hen is sitting on another egg pile in the next large box.  As you can see pictured now 2 hens are sitting side by side on one pile. Maybe she's just adding an egg, dunno, but any tips or understandings on this broodyness business are welcome. Much  Thanks,  Nick

post #2 of 9


If you are trying to hatch chicks, you'll want to put the hens and the eggs where they won't be disturbed much by the others.  I mark the eggs I want the hen to sit on with a pencil so that I can tell what may have been added later by another hen and collect those out.  If your hen is truly broody, she'll leave the nest for short periods of time, but will return to sit for hours and hours at a time.  If you need to separate her from the others to assist in the process, then I would do that as well, although most broody hens are holy terrors and the other hens usually avoid them, unless they want to lay in the nest. 

Peeps61
Location: NW Florida
Chickens since Feb. 2013
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Peeps61
Location: NW Florida
Chickens since Feb. 2013
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Peeps wrote: "you'll want to put the hens and the eggs where they won't be disturbed much by the others". Hi & thanks for your reply. I'm afraid to move the eggs and particularly the hen, then feel she chose that spot cuz it looks to me too as the relative safest place. Marking them seems plausible, but I thought maybe the other strawberry blond hen on there layed there so to have that egg hatched as well. This would cause a staggered hatching. Is that workable? My guess is there'd be too much of a mess to want to sit out that much longer in.

 

Back to first point, I'm sure chickens are used to having their eggs and selves tampered with. I'm just new in this and don't want to tamper with the process cuz we have a bigger coop than our flock size so can handle and want more chickens.   Thanks Again,  Nick

post #4 of 9

When I have a broody, I give her a certain number of eggs. Sometimes I will separate her, and sometimes I will leave her in with the flock. If a broody is left in the flock, you need to mark her eggs so you when you check her nest every day or every other day, you will know which ones were added later. You don't want to let other hens keep laying in the nest because then you'll either end up with a bunch of eggs at different stages of development - some of which will be abandoned when the first ones hatch, or you could have so many eggs the hen won't be able to cover them all, resulting in no eggs hatching. 

 

When you do have a broody, you don't want to feed her so close to the nest that she just stays on the nest at all times. She needs to get up occasionally so stretch her legs, eat, drink and poop. If she stays on the nest, she'll poop on the eggs, soiling them so they don't hatch. There are advantages and disadvantages to leaving her with the flock. The advantages are, she will remain part of the flock, and integration for the chicks shouldn't be an issue. The biggest disadvantage is that other hens may try to crowd into the nest to lay their eggs, resulting in the eggs your're trying to hatch getting broken.  You have to figure out what works best for you and your flock. 

 

If your hen hasn't been setting for very long, I would suggest cleaning out the whole "egg pile" and starting over with a dozen or so marked eggs that are all set at one time. 

Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by amiachicknorwat View Post
 

Peeps wrote: "you'll want to put the hens and the eggs where they won't be disturbed much by the others". Hi & thanks for your reply. I'm afraid to move the eggs and particularly the hen, then feel she chose that spot cuz it looks to me too as the relative safest place. Marking them seems plausible, but I thought maybe the other strawberry blond hen on there layed there so to have that egg hatched as well. This would cause a staggered hatching. Is that workable? My guess is there'd be too much of a mess to want to sit out that much longer in.

 

Back to first point, I'm sure chickens are used to having their eggs and selves tampered with. I'm just new in this and don't want to tamper with the process cuz we have a bigger coop than our flock size so can handle and want more chickens.   Thanks Again,  Nick

Not usually. A hen will set for about 24 hours or so after they start hatching, then lead them off the nest. At least that's been my experience. If you want to do a staggered hatch, it might be better to get yourself an incubator. Even that can be tricky. 


Edited by bobbi-j - 5/5/16 at 2:53pm

Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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post #6 of 9

to handle a broody (mine have always been willing to take my arm off at the elbow) Take a towel, birds calm down with something over there head. Hold each end of the towel in your hands, and flip the middle over her head, firmly grasping her body by the wings through the towel. Carefully lift her out of the nest. Beware, sometimes they tuck eggs up under her wings. When you set her down, she will act stiff and confused, still in the trance, but should shortly shake it off and go and eat and drink. Then you can check her eggs. I just do this 2-3 times per week. Some people candle the eggs to make sure there is progress.

 

It is better to try and hatch less, than more. You get more live chicks that way. I have had a large fowl set on 12 eggs, but really I get a much higher hatch count if I only give her 8. However if you want to cheat, make your calendar and order some day old live chicks to come at the time of hatching, and you can add them to her, and she will raise them up too. I would go as high as 15 total head if she is a large chicken.

 

You do need mark the eggs, I have not had any luck with a pencil, it just gets rubbed off. I use a marker. Other hens will add to the nest if they get a chance. My nest boxes are rather small, so as only one hen fits. But open large nests like in your picture, others will often be adding to the clutch. What happens is the hen naturally stirs her eggs up. If there are too many eggs, the ones on the outside ring do not stay warm enough and they die, then the hen moves them again, and now the dead eggs are directly under her, and the others are out on the edge getting too cold. You can wind up with almost none of them hatching.

 

I also agree, that a clutch should be started at one time, even if it means you start over. She will abandon any late eggs, and they won't hatch. Mine have always been done with the nest within 12-24 hours, leaving it to create a new clean nest and take care of the live chicks.

 

A hen with chicks is one of the best part of a flock.

 

Mrs K


Edited by Mrs. K - 5/5/16 at 7:00pm
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #7 of 9
Just don't put food in the nest with the hen. She will come off once or twice a day to eat, drink, dust bath. Then go right back and settle in once again. I don't think the others would have gone in there had it not been for the food. If you feel she has too many eggs to cover, remove a few, or however many you feel is prudent.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I stopped putting food in the brooder's big nesting box; marked the eggs so I can take the newly laid ones away each day and things seem to be going well. Since the whole coop is deep littered, said boxes included, that makes a nice bowl shaped nest to handle more egg seemingly comfortably for the broody hen. We'll see tho.  Nick

post #9 of 9

This will be the longest 21 days ever! But oh the fun of the sound of those little cheeps! Good luck. Remember if nothing hatches, day old chicks will work.

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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