6 month old broody, flock newbie, have questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by abcn123s, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. abcn123s

    abcn123s Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Hi everyone,

    We have a 6 month old White Silkie who appears to be broody. I will first off say, we LOVE having our girls. We purposely got silkies and other frequently broody breeds so we could have them do the raising job for us. It also seems to us that letting them sit on eggs is more natural than trying to break them of it. I didn't plan on one of our girls going so quickly though.

    Today is day number 2 that our sweet little hasn't wanted to leave the nest. Yesterday she laid her egg, but didn't want to leave it. I would take her off the nest and she'd go find another one with a freshly laid egg to sit on and last night, she wanted to sit in an empty box and sleep. I took her out and put her in her sleeping spot, but I don't know if she stayed there. So my questions are a few:

    1. Is 6 months old too young to put her through sitting on an egg?

    2. Is 1 fertile egg going to be enough for her to sit on and raise? (we have a current flock including our broody girl of 19 standard breeds and 3 bantams). We figured if she was successful at hatching, she could raise it and we would determine later to either keep or sell it.

    3. Is this time of year bad to let her sit? We have an insulated coop and enclosed with fencing, chicken wire and shade cloth run. The run is also covered.. they do get supervised free range time most days of the week.

    4. Will she do the integrating of the new chick into the existing flock for us?

    Thank you to all who help us!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

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    How cold do you get this time of year? Your silkie will go broody every month or two year round. They are the only breed I've had broody in the dead of winter. She will sit on nothing or one. Those standard breeds may give her grief. I've always found silkie to be targets of bigger breeds, and are best kept with other silkies or gentle bantams.

    You hen should be a good mom, but sometimes first time hens have no clue to what they are doing. I personally wouldn't have a first time mom only set one egg in case I need to pull them and brood them myself. A single chick is a lonely chick.

    Do you have an idea what you will do if you hatch out roosters?

    Most broody hens protect their chicks. I personally keep them separated for the first week or two after hatch to let the chicks get stronger. Other hens will kill chicks.
     
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  3. abcn123s

    abcn123s Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    We are considered high mountain plains here. Right now, we are 60's in the daytime and 20's at night. Winter can get pretty low and even in the negative numbers but our humidity is very low so it doesn't feel as cold.

    As far as how our girls interact, they all get along very well. As a matter of fact, our silkies don't have a problem going right up to a bigger girl and giving them the what's for.

    Since our Silkie girls have the real possibility of going broody a ton, do we just let them sit whenever they want to (since they will just sit on nothing), including sleeping in the boxes?

    We will consider keeping a roo or give him away, if the need arises. If we do let her have a fertilized egg or 2, she will go into our built in brooder with a nest box and plenty of room for her and 2 chicks... we can allow her the ability to come out if she wants or keep it completely closed off from the others.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    Old Hen is the expert on Silkies. I've never had them, though I understand they're broody fiends.

    I do have experience with broody hens, and I recommend you wait until spring, say the end of March at the earliest, to let her incubate some eggs. Her body will be more mature and she may have more mass to withstand the three weeks of barely eating.

    As far as sitting on just one or two eggs, that isn't an efficient trade-off for the toll it will take on her body and the investment of time she will be devoting to incubating, then brooding chicks. I have a broody who has spent the last sixteen weeks incubating and raising chicks, and that's after raising one surviving chick six months ago at the start of spring.

    It's been my experience that you want to have more eggs for your broody to incubate than you hope will hatch due to the possibility some of the embryos not making it to hatch.

    Plan on at least half of any eggs incubated being cockerels. They are not as easy as pullets to deal with. Chicks are fun, but there are lots of considerations involved. Best to put out the word over the next few months and line up folks who will want cockerels as well as pullets.

    Breaking a broody takes just three days if done at the beginning of the broody spell. Don't wait too long to make the decision.
     
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  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

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    I would probably break her too. Going into winter depleted from setting isn't a good idea with your temperatures. I would follow @azygous advice and wait until spring. Your silkie will go broody multiple times a year and you will need a plan for breaking her from it repeatedly. Silkies are the only breed I have ever gotten overrun with external parasites while setting too. So keep an eye on that too.

    It's good she's feisty, some can be very slow.
     
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  6. abcn123s

    abcn123s Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Ok, so HOW do I go about breaking her? @azygous, would I use our built in brooder? I could put her in there with food and water and their small roost bar. It is a sand bottom like the rest of the coop and no nesting material..
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    No. The brooder won't work for this purpose. She would happily hunker down in the sand and create a nest which would conserve her body heat which would nurture her broody hormones.

    To break a broody, you need to deprive her of the ability to find a surface that reflects her body heat back to her. This is why we use a dog crate or parrot cage with an open mesh bottom raised up on blocks so air can circulate under her. This will help lower her body temperature which will discourage the further production of hormones.

    She needs to stay in the cage day and night. You may let her out to poop and run around a bit and dirt bathe once or twice a day, but watch her carefully while she's out so she doesn't run into the coop and get on a nest. Broodies usually take about a five minute break and then they're ready to seek out a nest again, so don't turn your back on her!

    Usually by the end of the third day in the cage, you can let her out for a "test". This involves watching her carefully for a good half hour or more to be sure she won't go back on a nest. If she does, you know she needs a bit longer in the broody cage.

    Food and water should be provided at all times in the cage, though she won't feel like eating much. If you do a scratch grain toss at the end of the day as I do, you may let her out for that since it will pump up her spirits, but keep an eye on her so she doesn't bolt to a nest.
     
  8. abcn123s

    abcn123s Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Hmmm, in lieu of a cage like that on hand, I wonder if we could build a frame to fit into the brooder that would allow air to move around her. We could remove it when not needed. We could make the bottom out of hardware cloth. Hmm... this seems like a harder solve than the crop bra! :)
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

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    You could market your own line of Special Needs Chickens' Gear. You could be a zillionaire in ten years.
     
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  10. abcn123s

    abcn123s Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    :lau:lau:lau .... :yuckyuck
     

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