Originally Posted by microchick
Interesting point about the calcium Lady of McCamley. I clearly remember a week before Aggie went broody there were a few mornings when I let her out that she made straight for the Oyster Shell container that I keep out for the hens and gobbled calcium like it was popcorn. At the time I remember thinking, well, now that is strange. Now I know to watch her and when she starts gobbling Oyster Shell I'd better get things ready for her to go broody.
Aggie only stayed with her first clutch of eggs for 2 weeks before she started laying again and went back to the flock. As it was only the first of March I had to suppliment them with a heat lamp. The strange thing that happened during this brooding time was that the chicks that yes, were little wild childs while under their Mom's care, tamed down nicely for me. Now the little Buff Os will come and sit next to me on the bench in the run and enjoy being held and cuddled. The Welly/Buff O crosses are a little more timid thanks to their Welsummer genes but even they are more easily handled than the full blooded Welsummer hens.
I considered getting an incubator in fact I am planning to make a larger DIY 'bator to have on hand just incase I have late hatching eggs now or in the future. But I have to agree. Chicks hatched by a hen come away with the best end of the deal. Nothing beats learning from Mom. And when Mom goes back to the flock, they have their surrogate Mom to step in with a helping hand. I might not have feathers, but I'm really good at digging worms and grubs out of the garden for them.
That makes sense.
I don't remember where exactly I saw that recommendation, but I did a bit of research on the hormonal physiology of brooding, and a hen goes into highest lay just before brooding. She has to in order to gain the clutch size necessary to begin the shift in hormones from the estrogen/progesterone rich pre-brood laying phase to the prolactin rich brooding phase (wherein progesterone and estrogen diminish substantially).
Interesting...I read that a hen's ovary literally shuts down and recedes during brooding under the effects of prolactin. Once she is done brooding, her hormones shift again (under thyroid influence) to rebuild that ovary once again becoming estrogen and progesterone rich.
Can't say I understand it all, but you as a nurse (if I remember correctly?) would likely. I'll link some of the really interesting stuff below for your perusal.
It tells me that I want to keep the estrogen/progesterone phase supported right up to full clutch, then allow shut down and shift to prolactin...but after she is done brooding, to prevent that ever sulky brood, I need to help some of them restart the hormones...calcium may help play a role in that.
Anyone have any documentation to know how to support a hen's physiology during the brood in and brood out phases?
I'd like to manipulate some things better nutritionally, especially if I have a lingering brooder who may just need some chicken HRT support! (I'm getting a clue that calcium is a key factor for pre-broodiness and post-broodiness transition...I think I am going to be pushing the calcium supplements more for my breeding girls).
For those who enjoy a "good read"...
http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/al675e/al675e00.pdf (Long but informative report on small holder brooding...lots of statistics here on efficacy of hen brooding for the small holder)
http://proda.worldpoultry.net/PageFiles/28037/001_boerderij-download-WP6781D01.pdf (Report on how to prevent Turkey brooding but tells you a LOT about the brooding process and physiology)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3572575 (Calcium logistics in the laying hen)