Broody before or after?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by gritsar, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Still trying to figure this broody business out because I'm desperate for a broody.
    Do the broody hormones kick in and then the hen starts laying the clutch or do they kick in after she's laid a clutch?
    I remember reading somewhere here on BYC that for some hens the sight of a clutch of eggs will induce her to go broody. Is this true or false?
    If it's true I'm trying to figure out how that can happen if I collect my eggs regularly. Confused. [​IMG]
     
  2. oldbuzzard

    oldbuzzard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thats the way i understand it. they the magical number that make them happy. i am confused also. i collect regularly and no clutch is there, but still are broody![​IMG]
     
  3. msgenie516

    msgenie516 The Happy Hen

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    Hi,

    I think a lot depends on the breed. I collect eggs twice a day and I have 5 (looks like it's going on 6) broodies right now. Three are Silkies, one is a "Sizzle", one is a Cochin bantam, and the other that looks like she will be broody any day now is another Cochin bantam. They will sit on any eggs they find (until I collect them) and then they will sit on "nothing".

    Some hardly ever go broody, such as RIR's and Leghorns, as they are bred for egg laying.

    Good luck! Genie
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Thanks Genie. [​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    As msgenie516 said, it depends. Some breeds are broodier than others. Some will go broody without a clutch. I started a thread on here a while back asking if you could induce a hen to go broody by putting a clutch of eggs in the nest. I received one response saying that was how he got a hen to go broody. I get my first chicks in April, so I haven't tried it yet. I'd suggest using fake eggs, maybe golf balls, plastic easter eggs, egg-shaped river rocks, wooden eggs, something like that until a hen went broody, then put the fertile eggs under her.

    I'll subscribe to this post. Why don't you try it and post the results. If it works (or doesn't) I'd like to know what you did and how it worked.
     
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Leaving a nest of fake eggs or golf balls is a good idea. Then if a hen gets broody, maybe she'll pick that nest. Then you can save up some eggs for her for a few days, mark and date them, and put them all in the nest for her, at the same time, so they'll hatch close together. Saving up the eggs after she starts to brood also gives you a few days to make sure she's serious. Be sure the eggs are normal room temp before you place them in the nest, don't stick ice cold eggs under her. Partly because that would cause condensation in the eggs, and partly because it would be a shock to the hen, and very uncomfortable for her.

    I've had broodies every year for almost 15 years. I've seen all kinds of variations in broody behavior. Some will start laying in a hidden spot until they get a number of eggs they're happy with, then start to set. Others just suddenly go broody one day, pick a nest, and you can't get her out of it. Whether there are any eggs in it or not. Some will abandon a nest at the slightest disturbance, others will sit tight through anything.

    Feeding additional corn can help raise body temp, which is supposed to trigger the hormone changes that cause broodiness. There are so many variations among different breeds, and just individual hen personalities, it's hard to say what will work for sure. I firmly believe that you can't make a hen brood, though. Some are easily triggered, but I think it's more that individual hen's hormones and breeding than anything people may do to induce her to brood.

    I currently have one setting on nothing. She's a dark Cornish, they can be extreme brooders.

    Marking the eggs is important, so if other hens lay more eggs in the nest after you give her some eggs, you'll know which ones they are and you can remove them. I always write the due date on them as well. Then if another hen goes broody while the first one is still setting, hers will have a different date. Then, if they play musical eggs, and mix them up, you can sort them back out again. I've had that happen, eggs get moved to different nests.

    I use a black sharpie to mark the eggs. It's never harmed an embryo. It shows up well and won't rub off. I tried pencil, it rubbed off. I draw a circle all the way around the egg, so I can tell without picking them up which ones are marked.

    I check under my broodies daily, in case eggs have broken, so I can clean out any mess if they have, and to remove new eggs. They peck me. I check anyway. The broodies get right back on the nest as soon as I let them, unless they decide to take the daily lunch/potty break right then. Then they charge around in an agitated manner, eat, drink, scratch, poop, attack or at least squawk at several other chickens for no apparent reason, then they come back to the eggs.

    Several times, hens have gotten confused and returned to the wrong nest, and eggs were cool when I discovered it and put them back on the eggs. One hen was so bad I was sure that none would hatch, but they nearly all did.

    I have learned to candle eggs to select the best ones for hatching. This increases to odds of hatching successfully, and reduces breakage in the nest. Before I candle, I choose eggs that look the best in normal light. You want normal size eggs, normal to round in shape, smooth, strong, well-calcified shells with no obvious thickened or weak spots. Avoid very porous shells, too. Then, take those "best eggs", and candle them in a dark room. You'll be amazed at the shell flaws revealed. Weed out the ones with very thin spots, or lines of thin shell that circle or spiral around the egg, and those with thin spots on either end. It takes longer to select a clutch of eggs, but more of them will hatch. When I first heard of doing this, I candled a bunch of eggs from the fridge, just to see what they looked like. I was surprised at how many weak shells had looked perfectly ok in normal light.

    Is any of that helpful to you? Good luck, I hope you get a broody soon! As the weather gets warmer, it'll be more likely, so don't give up if it doesn't happen right away.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm still a year away from wanting a hen to go broody, but I'm an engineer and I overplan by nature and training. I'll have a small laying flock and plan to raise most of my own replacements and meat birds. I expect managing broodiness will be a challenge for me. And I'm aware of the genetics challenges also.

    "Be sure the eggs are normal room temp before you place them in the nest, don't stick ice cold eggs under her. Partly because that would cause condensation in the eggs, and partly because it would be a shock to the hen, and very uncomfortable for her."

    How do you store your fertile eggs while collecting enough for a clutch? I've read they need to be berween 45 and 65 degrees so they cannot be refrigerated.

    "Feeding additional corn can help raise body temp, which is supposed to trigger the hormone changes that cause broodiness."

    Thanks, I had not heard this.

    "I firmly believe that you can't make a hen brood, though. Some are easily triggered, but I think it's more that individual hen's hormones and breeding than anything people may do to induce her to brood."

    I agree with you. We are dealing with individual animals with their own personality. I think you can reduce the chance a hen will go broody by gathering the eggs every day and not leaving a nest egg in the nest after they learn where to lay, but some will still go broody. I'm looking for suggestions and experience that will increase my odds.

    "Marking the eggs is important, so if other hens lay more eggs in the nest after you give her some eggs, you'll know which ones they are and you can remove them. I always write the due date on them as well."

    Just a thought. In addition to a due date, how about marking the different clutches differently, maybe a line around the middle for one clutch and lines around the oval for the other so you can tell at a glance if something is amiss.

    "I check under my broodies daily, in case eggs have broken, so I can clean out any mess if they have, and to remove new eggs. They peck me. I check anyway."

    A necessary chore. Some people are intimidated by the pecking. I don't remember a hen drawing blood when I grew up on the farm, but it can hurt. Someone could always wear gloves and long sleeves if they are concerned.
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Thanks so much for all this information.
    I have an overabundance of eggs right now, so I'm going to experiment.
    I have two hens that are displaying what I think might be mild broody behavior - hissing and pecking at me when I try to check under them. One of the two starts yelling at me the minute I walk in the coop.
    I'm not going to collect any eggs today. I'll mark them and return them.
    They are still getting corn in the form of scratch grains.
    Wish me luck!
     
  9. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I store them at room temp, but I have hatched eggs I'd refrigerated by mistake. Refrigerators are usually around 34-38F, so that's not much of a difference. Long ago, when lots of people kept chickens, it was common for folks to keep hatching eggs in the fridge, especially in warmer climates. Some of the old poultry raising handbooks recommended refrigerating hatching eggs.

    45F would be a little cold to stick under a nice, warm hen. She probably wouldn't appreciate it much!

    Gritstar, if your hissy hens stick to the nest all day, and are still on the nest at night, they 're broody. Otherwise, they probably just don't like to be messed with while laying eggs. It's still a little early for hatching eggs, though, unless you're someplace warm.

    There was something besides corn that somebody told me increases body temp, but it was expensive, and I don't remember what it was. I'll try to remember next time I go get feed, and ask my feed guys. I buy from a small local family owned and operated place, they're really nice, and they know a lot about just about everything.
     

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