Broody advice x

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by cartersmith, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. cartersmith

    cartersmith Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 13, 2011
    okay so after not doing very well with hatching eggs in incubator i told my self i wasn't going to hatch of my hens have gone broody, this is first time i have had this she isnt leaving the nest box only to feed n stetch her legs by the looks of it, so im going to fetch some eggs tonite to put under her, is there any advice ppl can give me as i never done this way before.
    should i seperate her from other hens?
    should i move her into different nest box as the one she is sitting in is about 2foot off the floor?
    do i put food and water in the nest box with her?
    any more advice is greatly appriciated xx
  2. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Pop has good advice. I have a large pen in my coop where I put broodies if they will accept being moved. but some have not so I just left them in their chosen nest and marked the eggs. You have to check under them daily for extra eggs and remove them if done this way. I let my broodies raise the chicks in with the flock so there are no integration problems. I also take her off the nest every time I am in the coop so she gets a little more exercise and food and drink each day; they always lose some weight when setting on eggs. The advantage of letting them set in a regular nest is they have outdoor access, in my setup, and they do go out.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Below is a write-up I did a while back. It might help you.

    I don't know your goals for chickens or your set-up. I'll try to give you some basic information so you can decide what to do that is best for you. What you do might be totally different than what I or someone else would do.

    I see two options for you, either move her to an isolated pen where the other hens cannot get to her nest to lay or leave her where she is.

    If you leave her where she is, you need to decide what eggs you want her to hatch and mark them clearly. A black magic marker works great. After you have collected and marked all the eggs you want her to hatch, you put them under her at the same time and remove any eggs that are already there. If you wish, you can put fake eggs, like golf balls, ping pong balls, plastic eggs, whatever, in the nest for her to brood while you are collecting the eggs you want. Then, at least once a day and I consider the late afternoon the best time, you need to check under the hen and remove any eggs that are not marked. Chicken eggs take about 21 days to hatch, some a bit less, some a bit more. When a chick hatches, it has absorbed the yolk and can go about three days without food or water. This allows the early chicks to stay on the nest until the late chicks hatch. If all the eggs are not started at the same time, the hen has to decide if she will let the chicks that have hatched die of thirst and starvation or leave the nest before all the chicks have hatched. She'll take the living chicks and leave the unhatched eggs.

    The other hens will continue to lay eggs in the nest with the broody hen. You have to remove these daily. If you don't, bad things happen. The other hens can lay so many eggs that the broody hen cannot cover them all. When that happens, an egg that was developing is not covered, it cools off, and the chick inside dies. Then, that egg gets moved back under the hen, another developing egg gets moved out, it cools and dies. You will not get a good hatch when the hen has too many eggs. You also get the staggered hatch, which gets real complicated and often does not end well.

    If you mark the eggs and remove the new ones daily, you will normally get a good hatch. However, some things can go wrong. Other hens can break eggs if they are crowding onto the nest to lay eggs. It does not happen a lot, but it does happen. The broody will normally leave the nest once a day to eat, drink, and go poop. If she comes back and another hen is on the nest laying, she may get confused and go sit on a different nest. Her eggs then cool off and the chicks inside die. Again, it does not happen a lot, but it does happen.

    The other option is to move the broody to an isolated pen. This needs to be an area that is big enough for you to give her food and water and she can leave the nest to poop but the other hens cannot get to her nest to lay. Obviously, all the eggs need to be started at the same time for the same reasons as stated above.

    There are some drawbacks to this method.

    The hen may break from being broody when you move her. I'd suggest putting fake eggs in the nest for a couple of days before you give her the eggs you want her to hatch to assure she will stay broody.

    You have to alter your routine to separately feed and water her daily. For most people this is not a big deal, but I don't know your normal practices.

    A broody holds her poop all day and when it comes, it is big, messy and stinky. You'll need to keep her pen clean. This can discourage some people.

    The pen obviously needs to be predator proof. Not always as easy as it sounds, especially if you do not have room in the coop.

    I like to keep the pen in the coop or run with the other chickens so she stays a part of the flock. Otherwise, when she rejoins the flock, you wind up having to reintegrate a new hen. Often this is not a big problem if you put her with the flock with her chicks. Mama has such a bad attitude and will defend her chicks vigorously so the other chickens tend to leave her alone after a skirmish or two, but it can be a problem.

    These are the basics as I see them. Others may have different opinions and experiences which I hope they share so you have a better chance of making an informed decision. There are strategies to overcome some of the problems I've mentioned but I'm trying to keep this simple.

    Now, for your specific questions

    should i seperate her from other hens?

    See above. Your choice.

    should i move her into different nest box as the one she is sitting in is about 2foot off the floor?

    I've seen a hen get chicks to jump out of a 10 foot high hay loft when she took them off the nest. None got hurt. They are living animals and anything can happen, but I personally do not worry about a nest two feet off the floor. The only potential problem is where she wants them to sleep at night. Mine usually sleep in a corner of the coop on the floor, but sometimes the hen will want to go back in a nest. At 2 feet high, the chicks may have trouble getting back up there for a few days. You might want to check on them at bedtime to make sure all the chicks are with her.

    do i put food and water in the nest box with her?

    If you isolate her, yes, somewhere in the enclosure. It does not have to be in the nest box iself, but she does need to be able to eat, drink, and have room to go poo. If you do not isolate her, you do not need to. In either case, she will get off the nest to get to the food and water.

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