Be careful with your broody girls in the cold...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Godiva, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2007
    I just had a young broody hen die the other day and I think it was because of the cold and her not eating enough to keep warm... there was absolutely nothing else that I could think of that may have caused her death aside from some unseen heart ailment etc. She had been broody for about a week and then we had very cold weather for our area and I found her dead under the heat lamp [​IMG] Has anyone else had experience with this? I had two other girls broody at the same time so I whipped them out of the coop and into the heated workshop. Many tears were shed over Zelda by DD (7 years old) and DS (4 years old). I have noticed that some of the broody girls are ridiculously determined to not get off the nest and sometimes go for days without getting food etc. With it being so cold at the moment and staying cold all day I wondered if this is a risk especially for the small breeds. She was a silkie x d'uccle... Thoughts anyone?

    Zoe, also a silkie x d'uccle is broody too and I have her on 4 eggs as it is almost two weeks and I can't get her to give it up... I am scared to put her back in the coop while she is sitting and it is so cold... what do you think?
  2. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    I have no experience with this but just hang in there and someone will spot this who knows the score on this problem. I do know that often Roos will help out with a broody hen by bringing her treats and spelling her while she goes out for a bit. I would be afraid to let them just sit in the cold without eating too. May have actually been dehydration and not starvation.[​IMG]

    I do know that mine will stay on a nest if they have an egg coming rather than come out of the coop to get a treat. So I always save a bit of scratch or whatever it is for whoever is on a nest when i get inside of the coop and give some to them for being good and dedicated. At first, some would not take it from my hand but now, most will. [​IMG]
  3. BellLisamo

    BellLisamo Diagnosed w/ Muscovitis

    Feb 7, 2009
    Tombstone, AZ
    aww im sorry to hear about the broody momma.... i had a pure silkie who hatched out 3 babies in the middle of December, BUT remember I live in Arizona, so the coldest may have been 20-30 degrees... and she was smart, she built a nest under the HUGE ramp that went up to a small loft... Tucked in as close to it as she could...
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Awww, I'm so sorry to hear about Zelda, and your children's sorrow over her loss.

    It's hard to say exactly what killed her, it could have been the cold, it could have been something else. It seems that each hen has her own component of broody skills and some do better than others. I have a number of hens who have gone broody, some more frequently than others, most of them bantams. I've never had one that did not keep herself fed & watered enough, and did have one who brooded through one of our South Florida freezes. It seems that when the weather is warmer they will take longer breaks off the nest than when it's cold.

    I don't force my broodies off the nest to eat & drink, but I do check on them several times a day to see if they're eating/drinking/pooping. During that cold spell I added some insulation to the broody's nest, piled some patio-chair cushions over it.

    Since you have colder weather perhaps you should install your broodies in pens in warmer locations just to be sure they're all right. Make sure to wait until after dark to move a broody & her nest, & keep her new location darkened for the next day to be sure she'll stick in the new location.
  5. rarebreedeggs4u

    rarebreedeggs4u Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2009
    Morrow, AR
    I have some that have been broody about *5* weeks now. Their roo had been sick (he's fine now) and apparently none of the eggs were fertile. I took the eggs away after the expected hatch date and there they stayed, sitting on nothing. I took out their box and they still sat there. In down to 0 degree weather, I wasn't willing to put them on wire. I was picking them up twice a day and putting them next to the food & water.

    I also had a broody cochin in the barn in a dog kennel with some staggered development eggs. She hatched one, but I think squished it. I took her eggs and gave them to the silkies! I noticed one had pipped yesterday when I plucked the girls up to eat. I brought it in and put it in the incubator. Good thing, as I had a lone Serama hatch this morning :) I have another batch due next week. If the Silky girls' eggs hatch, I'll leave the babies with them. If they don't, I'll give them some of the crossbred incubator babies.

    Thanks for the reminder to keep a close eye on our dedicated girls. I'm so sorry for your loss [​IMG]
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I am sorry for your loss.

    It is hard to say exactly what killed her, possibly a combination of things. When I hear about a broody dying, I always think about what an Ag profesor at the University of Arkansas said, that roost mites kill more broodies than anything else. Roost mites are the ones that hide in cracks and crevices during the day and only come out at night. You have to check at night to find them. They should not be as numerous or active in the cold weather, but it is worth a night-time check.

    Being broody is hard on a hen, but most can do quite well. I can easily see a dehydrated hen not eating as much as normal because she is spending less time off the nest since it is cold and she does not want her eggs to get too cold who has a bit of a weak constitution (not something you would be able to see or know about) running into problems, especially if her nest is a little drafty or on a windy side of the coop that gets cold or if she has mites weakening her.

    I don't know what, if any, significance there is to you finding her under the heat lamp. I found an Australorp dead on the floor next to my feeder a couple of months back during good weather. It could have been caused by fatty liver syndrome or a weak heart, but I kind of think she hit something flying down from the roost and broke her neck. What I am trying to say is that it could have a freak accident having nothing to do with her being broody, but I'd still check for mites, make sure their nests are not too cold or drafty, and assure they have thawed water when they do get off the nest.
  7. Godiva

    Godiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2007
    I will check for the mites-I hadn't thought of that. What do they look like? Should I check at night then? Just pick the bird up and shine the flashlight on where? What would be the most likely spot to see them? I guess I assumed it would be too cold for the mites now...

    I do have the remaining broody in the heated workshop for now, will check her for mites too.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm sorry about Zelda- the weather has certainly stressed the flocks and especially where the hens are not used to it. I find that my 'eternal broody', Zipfi, has to be watched in extreme cold to see that she drinks enough. Or, that she has me trained to supplement her fluids- she is quite the lap hen...

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