BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying › Sick or broody? How to tell the difference
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Sick or broody? How to tell the difference

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi all!  I'm kind of embarrassed to be asking this, but how do I tell if my hen is sick or just broody?  I've had chickens for two years but haven't had a broody hen before.  About a month ago I had a wonderful hen suddenly become sick and die.  I discovered her one day sitting very still in an outdoor shelter, and her comb and wattles were very pale.  I went to pick her up and within 30 seconds she dropped her head and died!  She had seemed fine the day before.  I was very worried that she had something that the others would catch, but nothing happened for a couple of weeks, then two weeks ago my very favorite hen Zelda, a very social and friendly Appenzeller Spitzhauben, stayed in a nest box for a couple of days.  Her comb and wattles were perfectly red, but she didn't act like herself.  Having just had Sunny die I immediately assumed she was sick and brought her inside to my basement (where I spend a lot of time) in a small isolation cage.  Her crop was initially full and doughy-feeling, like play-do, and I thought she maybe had an impacted crop or something, but it cleared soon after.  I've had a heating pad on low for her to lay on, have treated her for worms and given antibiotics, and given her yogurt and vitamins, but she's pretty much remained the same since then.  She puffs up and makes a weird chirpy noise whenever I mess with her and even occasionally pecks at me, which is SO weird for her.  She also occasionally makes the chirpy sound while she's just sitting there, and twitches her tail a little.  She only poops every 2-3 days, and at first they were pretty runny and stinky (although I limited her food the first few days), although this week she's pooped two big stinky piles, followed by a little liquidy poop.  Having never had a broody hen before I didn't know that this could be a broody thing.  I also just read that broody hens will pluck out feathers on their belly, and her little belly is pretty bald.  So now I'm worried that the poor girl has been isolated for two weeks and subjected to penicillin injections and other stuff for just being broody!  But on the other hand, if she is sick I don't want to stick her back out in the coop.  What got me thinking about it was that a couple of days ago another hen, a Jersey Giant, started hanging out on the nest on a few eggs, and kind of acting the same way.  For some reason I didn't immediately think she was sick but wasn't sure, so started doing research on broodiness, and that's when I got to thinking that Zelda's maybe just broody too!  I think that with her I panicked after Sunny died, and I was scared to death of losing Zelda because she's just so special to me. 

So I guess my question is how can I tell if she's broody or sick?  Should I try putting her in a nest on some eggs?  I can probably rig up some kind of larger area (actually 2) in the coop to separate the two hens from the others, but again I don't want to risk her health or anybody else's if she is indeed sick.  I'd appreciate any advice!  Thanks so mucch-  I love this forum!


Jamie

post #2 of 13

Oh, she's broody alright.  It's just coincidence that she's that way shortly after losing another hen.  The "growling" she does at you is warning you off/protecting her eggs (even if she has no eggs under her and it's all just in her head).  I would get rid of the heating pad, as they heat up pretty well themselves when they're broody...lol.  You can let her sit for @21 days or you can try to break her out of her broody mood.  Do a search on "breaking a broody" and you'll find many ways, most of which focus on cooling her down. 
I do put mine (who is on week two of sitting on nothing, because I removed any eggs, even my wooden one) off the nest twice a day, to force her to go eat, drink, and poop.  But other than that, I'm just letting her ride her little hormonal thing out for three weeks.

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply
post #3 of 13

Yep she is broody the BIG POOPS are a sure sign she is broody smile Put some eggs in front of her if she takes them and shoves them under her you know she wants to be a Mama smile I  have 4 broodys right now and they all have no feathers on there breasts they peck me and puff up. Do you have fertial eggs?

  Life is Short and So Am I
Reply
  Life is Short and So Am I
Reply
post #4 of 13

Sounds like my sweet little white silkie... she is broody and growls like a pit bull...

Wife to 1, Mom to 2... and crazy over my 4 Silkies and 3 Polish Bantams, 2 Seramas, 2 Dogs, and 3 fish... and my hubby wonders why he feels that stabbing pain in the middle of his forehead...
Reply
Wife to 1, Mom to 2... and crazy over my 4 Silkies and 3 Polish Bantams, 2 Seramas, 2 Dogs, and 3 fish... and my hubby wonders why he feels that stabbing pain in the middle of his forehead...
Reply
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

WOW-  thanks for the quick replies!  I feel pretty stupid not realizing that she's probably broody until now, and I feel REALLY bad about sticking the poor girl in a little cage in the basement  barnie!  I hope she still likes me when all of this is over!  I do have tons of fertile eggs, and wouldn't mind her hatching a few because I know she'll be a great little mama.  So I'm changing my plans for the day and am going to go out and figure out some kind of setup for the two broody (not deathly ill) girls. 

Again, thank you SO much for the incredible help.  This forum is priceless.  I'll post updates!

Jamie
PS-  teach1rusl,  I'm in Bloomington!  Not too far from you!

post #6 of 13

Have fun having those girls hatch some babies!  I'll live vicariously through you, as I have no broodies!

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

I have zero chicken willpower.

 

Join us for the Easter Hatch-a-long!

Reply

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

I have zero chicken willpower.

 

Join us for the Easter Hatch-a-long!

Reply
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well, a few hours ago I brought Zelda's cage (it's about 2 1/2 x 3 or 3 1/2) out to the barn/coop and got her set up.  Towel and heating pad out, perfect-sized little nest box and  clean shavings/ shredded paper in, and fresh food and water.  Sat her in the box and I think she actually smiled at me smile.  Got 3 nice-looking eggs from the regular nest boxes and put them in front of her, and she immediately nudged them under her and settled in.  I think she'll forgive me for the past two weeks!  Now Big Girl, the broody Jersey Giant, isn't quite as happy with me.  Got another cage set up for her, put her in and put the 3 eggs she was on in the nest, and so far she's not having any part of it.  She wants back in her regular nest box!  I figure if she doesn't sit on the eggs soon I'll just keep her in there, and as long as she remains broody and eventually sits I'll exchange those eggs for new ones, unless someone has a better idea.  She's been on them for two full days (or has it been three?), so I'm assuming that they've started developing and if she's off of them for very long they'll die.  How long should I give her?

Thanks again.  I'm just SO glad that my Zelderkins isn't sick! 

Jamie

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamieF 

Well, a few hours ago I brought Zelda's cage (it's about 2 1/2 x 3 or 3 1/2) out to the barn/coop and got her set up.  Towel and heating pad out, perfect-sized little nest box and  clean shavings/ shredded paper in, and fresh food and water.  Sat her in the box and I think she actually smiled at me smile.  Got 3 nice-looking eggs from the regular nest boxes and put them in front of her, and she immediately nudged them under her and settled in.  I think she'll forgive me for the past two weeks!  Now Big Girl, the broody Jersey Giant, isn't quite as happy with me.  Got another cage set up for her, put her in and put the 3 eggs she was on in the nest, and so far she's not having any part of it.  She wants back in her regular nest box!  I figure if she doesn't sit on the eggs soon I'll just keep her in there, and as long as she remains broody and eventually sits I'll exchange those eggs for new ones, unless someone has a better idea.  She's been on them for two full days (or has it been three?), so I'm assuming that they've started developing and if she's off of them for very long they'll die.  How long should I give her?

Thanks again.  I'm just SO glad that my Zelderkins isn't sick! 

Jamie


May I ask why you have a heating pad?

  Life is Short and So Am I
Reply
  Life is Short and So Am I
Reply
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

I had the heating pad in there because she was in my basement where it's pretty cool and her cage was sitting on the floor with not much insulation between her and the cold concrete.  I put down a few layers of newspaper and a folded towel, and the heating pad was on low (actually the "warm" setting below "low") underneath the towel, and it was only on one half of the cage bottom so she could choose if she wanted to lay on it or not.  I thought she was sick, not broody, so wanted to keep her warm if she needed it!  Now I realize she didn't need it, but for the last several days she had chosen not to lay on the heated part anyway.

post #10 of 13

Hey Jamie - I'm near you too!  I'm just outside Columbus frow

I have my first broody too and will be putting eggs under her when they arrive in the mail, hopefully Friday!  Maybe we'll hatch at about the same time jumpy

kat - wife to Tim, mom to 3 kiddos (DS 20, DD 18, & DD 15 - the 4H member)  Our flock is made up of Polish, Silver Spangled Hamburgs, a handful of brown egg layers, and we just added 5 Mottled Houdan chicks! - - avid quilter, canner, and homemaker :0)
Reply
kat - wife to Tim, mom to 3 kiddos (DS 20, DD 18, & DD 15 - the 4H member)  Our flock is made up of Polish, Silver Spangled Hamburgs, a handful of brown egg layers, and we just added 5 Mottled Houdan chicks! - - avid quilter, canner, and homemaker :0)
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying
BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying › Sick or broody? How to tell the difference