Broody Chick

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DebR61, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Hi, one of my girls has been laying consistently now for a few weeks but has recently stopped laying and become broody. The other 3 haven't started laying yet. My broody girl lays in the nest-box all day and night if I let her even though there are no eggs in there. I have been lifting her out for about the past week and putting her down by the food. She will eat a little then scarper back up to the nest and stay there being generally grumpy until I lift her out again. The other 3 have now started spending more time in the coop, either on the perches or all squashed into the other nest box. If I whistle they will eventually come out to see if I have anything interesting and graze for a bit but go straight back inside.
    My questions are:-
    1) How long should I leave Blodwen brooding? Will she snap out of it herself after a three week 'incubation' period? Should I leave her to get on with it or try to snap her out of it? Is there anything I should be feeding her on while she is like this so that she doesn't become ill for the winter?
    2) Why are the other hens so intent on keeping her company? Are they affected by her broodiness or are they just hiding from the rain? (Something that never used to bother them).
    Thanks in advance
     
  2. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    No hens stop being broody when the chicks hatch to tell them its time, if there are no chicks they just keep sitting. They are not like breeds of other birds that know when an egg isnt going to hatch after a certain amount of time and go off them. They will just sit and sit if you let them.

    The problem with letting them sit if you arent planning to hatch eggs is one they are not laying so egg production is down and two they are also not eating or drinking as much as they normally would and so as the time stretches on past the normal incubabtion period they start to loose more weight than they were designed to. So for the health of the bird if you dont plan to hatch eggs she is better off being broken of her broodiness sooner rather than later. Because you are breaking her of her broodiness there is no need to make any changes to her diet.

    Breaking a broody boils down to one simple thing. Keeping it off the nest 24 hours a day for 3-4 days. Sometimes one will be particularly determined and it can take a week but mostly 3 days is enough. Just pulling them out now and then isnt going to do anything though. You have to keep them off all day and all night.

    How do I do that you ask LOL Well there are as many methods as breeds of chook. Some involve cages, some even icecubes under them. Personally we just have a section of their run fenced off with access to food, water and shade so they can wander around but cant get to the nest box and when they go broody we pick them out of the nest box and put them in there during the day and then late in the afternoon when everyone else is done with the nest box we lock it so they cant get into it and let them back in with everyone else to roost for the night.

    The next morning I open the nest box. Give them 10 minutes to see if they end up back in the box and if they do just pick them up out of it again and they go back into the other area and we do it all again.

    The first day the minute you let them out they will be looking for ways to get back in the nest box and may even sit of the ground next to it as the next best thing. The second day they will be looking but not quite as urgently. Day 3 they look then wander off to have a peck around and day four if all goes to plan in the morning when you open the nest box they dont bother to go in there. If they do you just do it all again till they don't. I have one silkie, the queens of broodiness, and the worst she ever took was 8 days. Normally 3 is enough even for her though.

    Good Luck!.

    OH and ps - not sure about your other hens but it could be they are getting ready to lay as well but she, if she is like any of my hens when they go broody, has done a jekyl and hyde and is now a cranky thing if they try and get in the nest box. You may find with her out of it they settle down again too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  3. Hi appps,
    Thanks for the advice. I have been taking her out in the morning and shutting the coop door so that they all have access to the run with food and water. They roam my garden during the day. I have blocked the nest boxes with a football placed in each but my broody girl just squashed herself in against it! I changed the footballs for upturned flower pots but this time she just made herself another nest on the floor of the coop next to her favourite nest box. After about 4-5 days once she has been turfed out into the garden she shows no attempt to try to get back inside and is quite happy following the other 3 around the garden, but as soon as she sees me go anywhere near the coop she runs back just to check. She seems to be getting thinner and thinner. As winter is drawing in and the days are getting almost as cold as the nights I am getting more concerned about her being fit enough to survive the winter. I was hoping she would be cured by now but she is VERY determined. Do you think it might be an idea to get her some eggs to hatch instead?
     
  4. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    I've never hatched eggs as we had to get rid of our rooster. Getting rid of him to a good home wasn't easy so I'm not in a rush to hatch eggs just to cure a broody because then I have to go through all that again when the kids get attached to the 50% rooster chicks :)
    If you eat them though or don't mind that someone else will its an option many people use. I think though I would try and fatten her up a bit too though if you could first as she will still go three more weeks from the time you put eggs in on minimum broody rations.

    I'd make her up some scrambled eggs and mix it with some mash or something then take her aside to eat it each day so I knew she was getting a good feed.
     

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