1st timer with 2 broody hens

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by tashtash, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. tashtash

    tashtash Chillin' With My Peeps

    206
    0
    81
    Dec 23, 2012
    Perth Western Australia
    It's my first time 2 of my hens have gone broody. As I only have girls I brought fertile eggs. They are sitting on them still. What do I do for them how do I care for them. I've been putting food in there box as they dont leave the nest. My other hens still like to sit in there box and lay there eggs. How can I make them have this private time and I'm worried when the baby's come the other's will still sit in there to lay. There doing really well so I don't want to move them incase they stop. Need help and advise.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,139
    3,351
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    A broody hen should leave the nest to eat drink, and go poop. Most do this once a day, though I’ve had some in hot weather to leave the nest twice a day. In colder weather this may only take 10 to 15 minutes. In hot weather I’ve seen them stay of the nest for an hour or more.

    Hens build up excess body fat to live off of while broody so they don’t suffer by not eating much. They will lose weight and get skinny, but that’s just excess body fat stored for this purpose. Occasionally you will get a hen that won’t leave her nest at all, but that is really rare.

    If a hen is truly broody, you can toss her off the nest once a day if you think she is not getting off at all. She might go right back on the nest, but many will take some time to eat, drink, and go poop if you take them off the nest. If she is not pooping in her nest, she is getting off. You are just not seeing her.

    Personally I don’t put food or water in the nest or anywhere real close to them. I want them to get off the nest and get some exercise. Many people on this forum do as you are doing though. It’s not that one way is right and everything else is wrong. It’s just personal preference.

    If you haven’t done it already I suggest you mark the eggs and check under the broody daily to remove any that don’t belong. Other hens do seem to like to lay with them. You can use those eggs as long as you remove them daily.

    You are dealing with living animals so I can’t give you any guarantees, but I’ve never had a problem with another hen laying in there when they are hatching. I’m sure other people have, it just hasn’t been a problem for me.
     
  3. tashtash

    tashtash Chillin' With My Peeps

    206
    0
    81
    Dec 23, 2012
    Perth Western Australia
    I've gone and checked. Mum #1 only has 4/6 eggs left and mum#2 only has 2/6 left is she eating them or are the other's eating them or are they being trampled on by others. I don't want them to come out at through end with no babies what do I do. I can't be out there 24 7 to move others out. I'm really not sure what to do. I'm upset for them if the others crack.
     
  4. tashtash

    tashtash Chillin' With My Peeps

    206
    0
    81
    Dec 23, 2012
    Perth Western Australia
    Help why are the eggs being cracked and eaten cause there is no egg shell around
     
  5. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    9,279
    727
    321
    Apr 11, 2011
    Tn
    Either your 2 broodys are fighting, and breaking eggs. Or the other hens climbing in with them to lay are breaking them/causing fight.
    You could put one or both of them in a small dog crate in the coop. It will let them brood in peace. They'll still be a part of the flock, and you can open the door and allow them to mingle once the chicks hatch. Or just leave them where they are, accept the risk that some will get broken and :fl
    Its normal for broodies to clean up nest messes, broken eggs attract hungry predators. Good luck with your hatch :)
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,139
    3,351
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    If there is no debris left, it is not the chickens. Many egg eating predators will leave shell or signs behind, but a few don’t. Possums, rats, and skunks should leave signs. A raccoon will often take the eggs to a safe place to eat them, maybe the top of the coop. A canine; dog, fox, coyote, will eat the egg whole and leave no sign but will probably take the hen instead of the eggs. Well, maybe not a dog. Do you have a pet dog that has access to the coop?

    I’ve had a snake eat the eggs out from under a broody hen. I caught a 5’ long black snake in the nest. The hen was just sitting there, not moving and not defending her nest. It got away before I could catch it, but it came back and ate four eggs out from under her that night. About three days later after it digested those eggs it came back and ate the final two eggs. I had fake eggs under her too but it left those alone. My guess is that you probably have a snake visiting and eating the eggs, though it could be something else.

    I don’t know what your set-up is like so I can’t give any specific advice. Snakes are tough. They can visit anytime day or night. I have had a snake eat a golf ball or a baby chick and be unable to get back out the way it came in. But they don’t always eat the golf balls. Maybe you can secure your coop so they are at least protected ant night. That’s not always easy. Runs are a lot harder, especially if the run is of any size.

    If you know how they are getting in you might be able to twist up some bird netting so they get tangled up in it and are trapped. I’ve heard of using ammonia or moth balls to help keep them away since they rely so much on their sense of smell, but make sure your chickens can’t eat the moth balls. I don’t know how effective this really is.

    Like I said, snakes are tough and I’m not 100% sure it is a snake. Sounds like it though. Good luck!
     
  7. tashtash

    tashtash Chillin' With My Peeps

    206
    0
    81
    Dec 23, 2012
    Perth Western Australia
    I'm in Australia. It's winter here no snakes till summer. We don't get snakes where I am. I can see hay that is clumped together so I can tell the eggs have been broken. Will she sit until they hatch. I put the fertile eggs under her 1week ago. I was thinking I might move them to a private enclosed area and put more under her. Some will hatch a week before others do tho. My pen is all fences in walls roof floor. Chicken wire all around. I'm still in two minds I am not sure what to do.
     
  8. rachmickmurphy

    rachmickmurphy Chillin' With My Peeps

    294
    13
    83
    Sep 3, 2013
    hi tashtash i would seperate your broodies i find this is better done at night i am in vic we get huge snakes here but never lost eggs or hens to them. large lizards are another story but they take the egg and carry it off to open and eat the inside. at a guess i would say the reason for your breakage is due to other hens trying to lay their eggs in the same nest they will just squash in anyway possible your broody cant proctect eggs also you may find when the chicks hatch the other hens might pick on them. ideally you could house the rest of your flock elsewhere and your broodies could have their choosen spot but in the real world a broodies cage is probably best. i have a sussex on a clutch in my back pen and its a worry there are ten other birds in same pen so far no problem but the ten others will be moved by this weekend so at hatch time she got no disturbances i have no luck with large size hens brooding (3 chicks of 8 eggs is my best result) so i breed a batch of silkie x pekins every season specially for brooding my pure bred bantys they small size but slow gentle movement i never get injured chicks from those girls. good luck with your girls
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,139
    3,351
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You are giving new information. In post four you said no shell was left so I assumed the whole egg was taken. Then in post seven you said there was wet stuff left, so no, it is not a snake. They would swallow the whole egg and leave no evidence. My mistake. I got tunnel vision when I thought the whole egg was gone because that fit my experience with a snake and a broody so well.

    I don’t know if you have any predators in Australia that would eat the shell like that. That would be pretty unusual. They should be after the insides because that is where the nutrients are. Unless they eat the egg whole, they should not be interested in the shell.

    The way I understand it, you have two broodies in two separate nests. 4 eggs disappeared under one and 2 under another. Did this happen at the same time or did the eggs disappear over a few days? I’ll guess it happened all at approximately the same time.

    Sometimes a hen will eat the eggshell from a broken egg, sometimes not, but that is a lot of egg shell for one or two hens to clean up. Or maybe something was carrying off the eggs and broke one and left liquid and the hen cleaned up the shell. The scenario where the hens cleaned all the shell up makes the most sense.

    Here in the States, rats, possums, or skunks would be the most likely suspects to eat the eggs out from under a broody and not carry the eggs off to eat them, but squirrels, chipmunks, and someone even said gophers would do that. I’d think something relatively small or they would have eaten all the eggs. From what you described, it sounds like something big would have trouble getting in there anyway. And for some reason it would have gone from one nest to the other, not finishing all the eggs in one nest. If something like this happened, I’d mostly suspect a rat but you have some strange animals Down Under.

    I occasionally find an egg broken or usually punctured by a toenail. This could be under a broody or just a regular egg laid that day. This is practically always a very thin-shelled egg. It was so thin the toenail just punched right through. This would not be six eggs at one time. So with six at a time in to different nests this was not from another hen laying in there or the broody turning her eggs. Some event happened.

    It’s possible the broody was defending her net from a predator and some eggs were broken in that process. With two different broodies in two different nests, that doesn’t sound likely, but it is possible.

    Many broodies have no problem sharing their nests with other hens for them to lay their eggs, but some will defend their nests from those hens. Eggs could be broken in that type of fight. I don’t think that has ever happened to me but I’m not watching them all the time.

    With you feeding the broodies in the nest, it’s possible another regular hen was attracted to that food and a scuffle broke out. They do like to scratch when they are eating and some food was probably in the bedding, so maybe no scuffle, just scratching for food. I don’t consider this a likely scenario but it’s possible like some of the others I’ve mentioned.

    One thing that has happened to me before with two broodies at the same time. One had been broody for a while and was to hatch in a couple of days. The other had just gone broody and didn’t have any eggs yet. When the eggs started internal pipping the two broodies fought over the eggs. About half the eggs were destroyed in that fight. So one likely scenario is that your broody hens fought over the eggs.

    You have some options with two broodies. I think the eggs are all due to hatch at the same time. I suggest you fix up a place where you can lock up one broody so she cannot get back to her nest. You need a nest, room for food and water, and room for her to go poop without messing up the nest, food, or water. Make the nest kind of dark. That seems to help them accept the move. And make it really predator proof, like rat proof.

    At night, after it is dark, move one of the broodies in here with as little light and commotion as possible. Put all the good eggs under the other hen and put fake or sacrificial eggs under the hen you moved. The risk is that she may break from being broody when you move her but you have the luxury of the second broody if this happens. If she accepts the move you can either move the good eggs under her and break the other broody or get some new fertile eggs for one of them.

    With something like this happening it’s hard to know what actually happened. There are a lot of possibilities and even the far-fetched ones are possible. I lean toward the two broodies fighting or something like a rat, but I’ve seen some strange things happen. Good luck!!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by