AWOL hen - what to do?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by tamaradawn, May 10, 2008.

  1. tamaradawn

    tamaradawn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2008
    Hello, my name is Tamara and I'm brand new to the forums, and fairly new to chicken mamahood. We adopted two ducks about two months ago, and four hens and a rooster about a month ago, all from animal sanctuaries.

    Of the four hens, three had been living together for a long time before we got them, and seem bonded to each other, but the fourth (Greta) seems very loner-ish. She doesn't hang out with the other chickens much, and prefers to do her own thing. (She also has no toes - I don't know what caused this, or if her deformity has contributed to her separateness in any way...)

    About a week ago, Greta started disappearing during the daytime, and for the last few nights, she hasn't come home at night either. She did come home once a couple of nights ago so I think she's still alive but just has a nest she is sitting on. I should probably describe our setup better... We have a chicken house with an attached 12' x 12', fully enclosed area, and then during the day the chickens and ducks have about a fenced acre to hang out in. Some of this area is open lawn, but some is steep and wooded - that's where I think Greta is now.

    I'm worried about leaving her out there, for her own safety obviously, but if she just continues to not come home, I don't have much choice. We haven't had any luck finding her nest. I'm concerned about her not getting enough to eat or drink. I have no idea if she and the chicks will survive, and if they do, if she will bring them home to us, and if she does, what to do at that point. This is all totally new to us. I've read some info here on the site about incubating and hatching eggs, but what if you have a mama hen who takes it upon herself to just go off on her own and try to do it alone?

    I don't know what my specific questions are, I'm just worried about her and confused about what I should do. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance, and thanks for letting me join. [​IMG]

    Tamara
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    If she is off brooding on a nest somewhere then she will be fine (as far as eating/drinking) and almost certainly bring the chicks back home once they've hatched.

    Having said that ... she could be taken by a predator and I know that is what you are concerned about. If you can find the nest, I know you've looked, then you could move her and the eggs back to a safe place at night when she's sleeping. But - you have to find that nest.

    Good luck - I hope you find her so you can get her to a safe place. If not, then I hope she is safe during her 21 day hatch time.

    Oh my .... Welcome to BYC!!
     
  3. kaylakala

    kaylakala Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2008
    Melbourne Florida
    I can' give advice being new to chickens myself. I hope you find her nest and

    WELCOME to BYC!
     
  4. OkapisRule

    OkapisRule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 24, 2007
    Northern georgia
    Welcome!!! If she is a good broody hen she will definitely have no problem defending the chicks and the eggs. I think she will get enough food and water, and she will do just fine where she is if there are no predators around. Good luck and I hope you do find the nest!!!
     
  5. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Overrun With Chickens

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    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    When or If she is spotted again make sure she is followed. A broody hen will not stay off her nest very long. The longest I ever saw was an hour and that was a hot day in July.

    When the chicks hatch she will bring them to where she knows there is food.

    With a 'stray' hen most folks I know pen the chicks and hen for a few days, but not in with the other adults. Then let them out during the day, but shut them up safely at night. Night time is the riskiest time. To catch her and the chicks, you just have to follow them at night and wait till she goes to her nest. Once it is dark load them in a carrier that already has a pre-made nest in it.

    Matt
     
  6. tamaradawn

    tamaradawn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2008
    Thanks so much for the replies everyone. I hiked around in the woods a bit today looking for the nest with no luck. If she shows up again I will definitely follow her.

    Another question... I am not crazy about the idea of having chicks often. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening in the future?

    Thanks again.
     
  7. tamaradawn

    tamaradawn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2008
    Guess what - I found the nest! Pics on my blog if anyone is interested. I guess I will go out there after dark tonight and attempt to move Greta and the eggs into a large dog crate with plenty of warm straw to nest in.

    I saw the nest when she scampered out earlier to get some food, and there were about ten eggs in it. I'm not really sure whether I want to let her hatch them or not - I was thinking maybe we could candle them and just keep a few viable eggs and let her hatch those, but not all of them. I'm worried about letting her have too many and ending up with multiple roosters.

    Any thoughts?
     
  8. OkapisRule

    OkapisRule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 24, 2007
    Northern georgia
    keep the eggs till they hatch, then sell the chicks you don't want. Then you know what gender they are and you can pick the right ammount to keep, If you keeped that number of eggs, alot of them still won't hatch. Our hen had 12 eggs, but only 4 hatched.
     

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