1st time Broody Hens (2)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mainelychic, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. mainelychic

    mainelychic In the Brooder

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    As the title states. I have 2 hens that have gone broody. It's their 1st time as well as mine. Not quite sure as to what I should be doing. I've separated them, well they're still in the coop but have a temporary wall put up. I do let them out by themselves twice a day. Morning and Night. I guess my question is. Do I just let them be? Should I be inspecting the eggs? How will I know if they're "changed" their minds on being broody? If everything does go well for when chicks arrive. Do I intervene? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!!
     
  2. Alarmguy66

    Alarmguy66 Chirping

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    The most important thing is to make sure the other hens cant continue to lay eggs under the broody ones once they have all the eggs you want them to have. For me that means separating them into another location where they can be in peace. I move them at night, into an enclosed space that they cant escape. After a day or so, open up that space and observe them to make sure they dont leave the eggs. Most of the time they wont, but its a new space and a new mother hen will sometime panic in a new space and lose track of where her eggs are. After that its just a waiting game.

    If moving them isnt an option right now, you need to make sure they can stay separated and have access to food and water (not that they are going to use it much). Once the chicks hatch you will need that other location, so maybe just use the time now to start making one and move them later.
     
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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    So many different things to talk about here. What is the configuration in the coop? Do you mean the two broody hens are basically in one enclosure that is totally penned off from the other flock members? Are they sharing one nest? Could you maybe post a photo? Have you given them eggs? Are the eggs due to hatch at the same time? If they are in two different nests can they get to each other's nest?

    My basic philosophy with a broody hen is that she knows what she is doing a lot better than I do. So, as much as possible, I leave them alone. But how you have them set up may require some things from you. That's why I'd like to know how you have them set up.

    I do not isolate my broody hens from the rest of the flock when they are incubating, hatching, or raising the chicks. The other hens can lay eggs in the broody hen's nest so I mark the eggs I want her to hatch and check under her once a day after the others have laid to remove any extra eggs. The eggs under a broody hen all need to start at the same time so they will hatch at about the same time. Otherwise you get a staggered hatch. That's where the hen has to decide to take the first chicks off the nest for food and water before the later eggs hatch.

    Some broody hatches are over within 24 hours of the first egg hatching, I've had a few drag on into the third day. That's one of the frustrating things, they are not consistent. The chicks absorb the yolk before they hatch so they can go for three days or more without food or water but if they go more than that they can be in trouble. So no staggered hatches!

    I never candle the eggs under a broody, it is not necessary for the eggs to hatch. I guess you could say I inspect the eggs when I check for freshly laid eggs but if a hen were isolated i would not do that. I've had hens hide nests that I did not know where they were and they hatched fine.

    Before they even start to lay eggs hens add a reserve of fat to their body. This excess fat is mostly what they live off of while they are broody. That way they don't have to spend a lot of time looking for food but can remain on the nest. They still come off the nest to eat, drink, and especially go poop. They should know to not poop in the nest and mess up their eggs. I've ween a broody come off the nest twice a day and spend more than an hour off the nest each time. I'e seen a broody come off once a day for 15 minutes. Some I never see off the nest but I know they are coming off because they do not poop in their nest.

    When the eggs are hatching I leave the broody alone. She knows when the hatch is over better than I do. She knows when to bring the chicks to the coop floor. How that part works for you will depend on how you have the area set up. My nests are 2 to 4 feet off the coop floor so when the hen is ready she flies down and tells the chicks to jump down to her. Since the nests are too high for the chicks to jump back up, she takes then to a corner of the coop at night to sleep.

    There are plenty of people that do this totally differently than I do. I don't consider one way right and another wrong, it's just the way we choose to do it.

    Some people have multiple broody hens hatching together in the same coop with different hatch dates and things go well. Some people have two or more broodies sharing one nest and co-parent with no issues. But I once had a broody attack another broody as her eggs started to hatch, wanting to take over instead of share. In the fight about half the eggs were destroyed. Anymore I don't allow two broody hens access to each others nests.
     
  4. mainelychic

    mainelychic In the Brooder

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    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Right now they're in the nesting boxes. When they do hop off I've noticed that they do switch nest off and on. One of my broodys is about 2 1/2 (guessing)and the other is just over a year old. My nests are about the same height as yours. So looking like they'll end up living on the floor of the coop too. My thoughts were to let the hens raise them but if things don't go as well. I do have a brooder that I can transfer them to if need be.

    My plan was to switch just that group. Momma hens and chicks to chick starter crumble food once things are a go. Right now they're on layer pellets.
     
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  5. Pekin747

    Pekin747 Songster

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    R their eggs fertile??
    If so I'd just let them do their own thing I wouldnt handle them.much just cause they could break their broody
    And what breed r the hens?
     
  6. mainelychic

    mainelychic In the Brooder

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    I candled the eggs lastnight all were showing movement with the exception of 3 (which was hard to tell). Everything seems to be doing ok. My soon to be momma hens do have food/water available. Although, I haven't seen them use the bathroom much. I'm not sure if I should be physically taking them off to run outside or not. One of the hens is a cochin and the other is ISA Brown.
     
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  7. Pekin747

    Pekin747 Songster

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    They will usually only go to the bathroom 1 or 2 times a day and if u handle them to much they could stop clocking on the nest
     
  8. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    I'm curios. @Ridgerunner has taken the time to type out what I think are pretty clear instructions on how to handle broody hens which you've apparently read because you've replied to the post.
    If I was to summarize Ridgerunners post it goes something like; make sure they get off the nest for food, water (dust bathing which didn't get mentioned but it's difficult to cover everything) and to poop so the nest stays clean.
    The basics of Ridgerunners post was make sure she does the above but otherwise leave the hen alone.
    A couple of posts later you've written you've candled the eggs, which means you have had to disturb the hen, handle the eggs, which can cause physical deformities if done at the wrong time, not to mention the possibility that the hen may abandon the nest feeling that it is no linger safe.
    Why have you candled the eggs and ignored the advise you've asked for and been given?
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Shadrach, I don't see where I said to make sure she is getting off the nest. I said "some I never see off the nest but I know they are coming off because they do not poop in their nest." My main message is that other than checking under them once a day to remove any unmarked eggs that show up, leave them alone. You do not have to intervene.

    I handle my broody hens once a day when I check under them to look for unmarked eggs. Once they have switched to full broody mode, which to me means they have spent two consecutive nights on the nest, I have never had one break from being broody or abandon her nest.

    The only wrong time I know of to candle the eggs is when they have external pipped. That's because they might dry out too much and shrink-wrap the chick. Could you explain your "can cause physical deformities if done at the wrong time" quote. This is the first I've heard of this.
     
  10. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    I'll deal with one point at a time because I'm a bit short on patience atm.
    So, it's unreasonable of me or anyone else to extrapolate from the above that the hen should get off the nest to poop, eat and drink?
    It's easiest with a straight question. Do you think a broody hen should get off the nest to eat, drink and poop?
    Regarding the candling and general handling of a broodies eggs. Do you think it is good practice to unnecessarily handle the eggs of a broody hen?
    I have to take your word for this but ime and others, hens can and do abandon their nests for a variety of reasons at any time during incubation. I have hens abandon nests because of other animals stealing their eggs, including humans. I've had broody hens sit for up to two weeks and then for no apparent reason abandon their nest and eggs.
    Full broody mode isn't properly engaged until the hens egg laying cycle switches off. This can take up to three or four days with some hens. Granted it is often earlier.
    I assume you are aware that in the last three days of incubation the hen orientates her eggs so that they are correct for what you chaps call, piping and zipping?
    Unless you are aware of this, it is easy to replace the eggs in the incorrect position.
    You will of course know that eggs are porous and it is quite easy to deposit bacteria on the shell which may get taken into the egg.
    I will try to find at least a link or an author to the studies that show the importance of the first three days of incubation and post later.
     

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