1 Broody Hen, 1 Molting Hen and 1 Unsure Owner... Please help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by StevieKnee, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. StevieKnee

    StevieKnee Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi guys,

    I'm hoping i can get some advice on my hens... I have 2 Warrens, 1 of my girls has been broody for a while now and i cannot get her cool, she some how finds a way to huddle up and keep warm no matter what. She isn't eating or drinking unless i physically pick her up and put her in front of the feeders, as soon as she has had enough she tries to go back into the nesting boxes which i now have to shut up through the day but she then finds somewhere else to go and huddle. She hasn't laid an egg in around a month and half either. My only concern of putting her in a "broody breaker" is because we are now in November and the weather is dropping through the night and mornings being in the UK, i don't want her to freeze or get too cold and stress her out over night. So i am unsure how i can get her cool enough to snap her out of it but safely. Also is it normal for a hen to go into a brood in October in the UK?

    My other girl has been very lonely the last month or so with the other hen not coming out of the nesting boxes, she's now a loner and has also stopped laying too. She still gets up and acts normal eating drinking etc, but in the last week i have noticed a disturbing amount of feather around the coop and the poor girl has hardly any on her head, her chest is very thin, her tail is completely missing and basically she looks very small and scraggly. Does this sound like a molt or could it be the stress from being on her own a lot?
    Is it normal to get 1 hen broody and 1 hen molting within a month of each other in October / November in the UK?

    Any advice is warmly welcome as i've never experienced a brood or a molt before.

    Thank you!!!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I would still get her in a crate and break her. Being broody is draining. Chickens are very cold hardy, she will be fine. Just keep her out of drafts.

    Your other hens sounds like she's having a hard molt. Keep up her protein in her feed. You can feed some higher protein snacks like cottage cheese, canned fish or scrambled eggs to help her through it. She will be uncomfortable and look unwell during. Try not to handle her too much.

    All hens are different, so one being broody and one molting is normal. More than likely after you break your hen she will start molting too.
     
  3. StevieKnee

    StevieKnee Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for the reply, I am going to borrow my mums dog crate and put her in that in the garage as it's colder in there but no drafts so she should be fine.
    And thanks for the advice on molting, I will give her some treats to help her out and just keep an eye on them both!
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Or, you can crate the broody during the day and put her on the roost with the other hen each night. You'd have to watch to see if she went off the roost to the nest, but usually if you place them on the roost after dark they won't go looking for a nest until morning.

    How old are your birds?
     
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Steve

    Just wanted to give you a bit of reassurance from someone else in the UK...I'm in the north east of England... and I can assure you that it is perfectly normal for chickens over the age of 1 year to be moulting now.... your broody hen will start soon too if she hasn't already. Secondly, that she will be fine in a broody buster cage chocked up off the ground. Make sure there is a small roost so that she is not standing on cold wire mesh all the time, especially now we are into frosty weather and place the broody buster cage in the run through the day.... bright sunshine and activity going on around her will help break her as well as not being able to snuggle down. If your coop is too small to accommodate the broody buster cage, then lift her onto the roost at night after dark as suggested by donrae and back into the cage in the pen through the day. It is important to have the cage chocked up off the ground as you need air flow underneath her but place it in a nice sunny spot that is sheltered from the wind.

    It is also a good idea to scatter a bit of mixed corn or better still, meal worms, around the cage for the other chicken/s to scratch and forage for as this will help bond them again and also encourage the broody to eat and want to forage too. Make sure to put some goodies in the broody's feeder too though, as she will also need extra nutrition. Broody hens and moulting birds need extra protein to help them regain their condition and grow new feathers, so if you are just feeding them layer pellets, look at buying a small bag of chick crumb (unmedicated... ie no ACS on the label) and mix some with warm water on a morning to give them a warm mash for breakfast. Chick crumb is usually 19% protein here in the UK, whereas layer feed is only 16%, so a few weeks of that should put a bit more condition on your girls.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Like you, I've had this concern about a broody spending a cold night in a cage alone. The solution is so very simple. Just put a friend in the cage at night with her so the two can snuggle and keep warm. This won't negate the effectiveness of the broody cage.

    I place the cage in my run since my coops are too small, but I toss a warm blanket over the cage for added warmth and it also provides a secure feeling for the hens, making them feel as if they're in a secure mini-coop.
     
  7. StevieKnee

    StevieKnee Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank's to everyone that had replied to my post! It's great to know there are people to give advice when someone in unsure.

    Donrae thats a very good idea about putting her back in the coop on a roost at night, i will sleep much better knowing she isn't in a cage on her own that way, silly to feel guilty but we all do with our animals ey. Also I'm not 100% sure on how old they are but they must be getting to 2 years now.

    Thank you Barbara for your reply, it's nice to get advice from someone else in the UK so you know my worries about the chill thats all a sudden happened over night it seems, temperature has surely dropped!
    I have just got home from work, i have set up a large dog crate next to the coop run so she will still be near my other hen to encourage her, its chocked up from the ground and i have put a cover on the top to stop things from falling on her. (We have 2 very large oak trees in our garden so leaves and acorns are dropping like silly at the moment). Tomorrow morning before work i will put her in the crate and let nature take its course and then tomorrow evening when its dark i will put her back into the coop on a roost for her to settle there for the night. How many days do you think she will need to be in the cage for to break her or is it different for each bird?
    Also thank you for the advice on feed for them, tomorrow before i get home i will pop to our local animal feed shop and get them both some treats and goodies to look forward to and hopefully perk them both up a bit.

    Azygous i will try adding my other hen in the broody cage if i get concerned about the weather being too cold and she doesn't seem to be happy on her own, i will watch to see how they both are and put them together if necessary. Again thank you for the advice!!

    Kind regards

    Stevie.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Stevie, permit me to point out that by letting your broody roost at night it will set her back in the breaking process.

    To successfully break a broody in the least amount of time, she needs to be kept from warming her underparts, either in a nest, on the floor of the coop or run, or even on a roosting perch. Air must be allowed to circulate freely under her 24 hours for about three days straight.

    Letting her have brief breaks out of the cage is fine, to dirt bathe, stretch her legs, etc, but the minute she settles down in a crouch on any surface that prevents air from circulating under her, it sets back the breaking process unless you get her back into the cage. Ideally, the cage should be in the center of activity and daylight during the day so it counters the broody spell.

    Find a secure spot for the cage and the broody at night, even if you have to put her cage in the garage or your spare bedroom at night. But don't let her roost until she's broken.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it depends a lot on your roost bars. If you have 4x2s width ways then yes she can snuggle down onto the wood and keep warm. If you have 1-1.5inch bars or branches or round perches then she will struggle to maintain that excess heat in her undercarriage. The cage should, in my opinion have a small roost bar in it for comfort anyway as I would not leave a chicken standing on wire overnight in frosty weather. The other thing to consider with the OP's situation is that I believe he may just have the two chickens, which means they are both on their own....probably not a problem for a few nights but seeing as he is keen for them to pal up again, it makes sense to roost them together at night.
     
  10. StevieKnee

    StevieKnee Out Of The Brooder

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    Today she spent the day roosting and eating meal worms, she doesn't seem to grumpy with me. She is now in the garage on a roost sleeping away!
     

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