Broody chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Nicademus, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Nicademus

    Nicademus Hatching

    Jul 9, 2010
    I know there have been quite a lot of questions regarding this before, but can't find specifically what I'm looking for..If you have a broody chicken sit on a fake egg, then when does the chicken stop being broody - they don't need to actually hatch eggs to stop? Also, what sort of behavioural changes do you see when chickens become broody - from other posts I see that they often only come out to eat, drink, go the toilet once a day - how about weird vocalisation - does this happen?

  2. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Songster

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Nicademus, I am going to hitchhike on your post as I have some of the same questions.
    My Houdan hen has gone broody - she is on Week 2 - and I am wondering if I need to worry about her or just let it run its course.

    I can tell you I removed the wooden eggs I had in the nest boxes and she is happy to steal one laid by one of my other hens or sit on nothing after I gather eggs.

    She does eat & drink and, once I toss her out, spend some time freeranging with the rest.
    I've cleaned up some messier-than-usual poop in the coop which I suspect may be hers.

    The only benefit is she is so cranky the others have stopped pecking out her crest so it is getting a chance to grow back:rolleyes:

    She grumbles at me when I evict her from the nest, but allows me to take any egg she's sitting on w/o a Major Hissy.

    Her voice has changed - like I said she kind of grumbles in a voice deeper than her usual - she was always a pretty vocal hen. To me it's really funny - I tell her I understand, PMS is no joke...[​IMG]
    And she does puff up her feathers some, but then setles back to her normal shape.

    I'll be interested to see what other posters have to tell us...
  3. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Usually, the hen will give up around 21 days (the typical incubation period). We have doves that lay infertile eggs (the male isn't doing his job properly), and they'll abandon the nest after the incubation period and start over.

    However, every once in a while you can get a very determined hen that just stays there and stays there. If your hen does this, you'll want to intervene because they do lose weight while brooding. I weighed my three hens after they hatched out their clutches and each one had lost around 30 percent of their body weight.

    And yes! I've always thought being broody is kind of like major PMS! My bantam hens didn't grumble, they shrieked, all the while puffing up like a tom turkey displaying his feathers.

    Mine really appreciated dust bathing while they were broody, more so than usual. They'd often spend more time dust bathing than eating or drinking while they were away from their nest. One hen in particular would be dustbathing with obvious relish, then she'd squawk and run madly back to her nest. It was as though she was thinking "My eggs! I forgot!"
  4. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Quote:I beg to differ on the 21 days. Maybe I just have a whole bunch of very determined hens, but mine are totally oblivious to the calendar!

    Of course, almost all of the broodies I have had experience with have been either Bantam Cochins or Silkies, two breeds that are almost legendary for their broodiness. I have gone through whole summers pulling the days' eggs out from under growling, pecking momma-wannabe's. When you have suspected egg-eaters around, having an automatic cover for any egg is kind of convenient, but I do worry about the girls not getting enough exercise when they do that.

    At this moment, I have 4 hens with newly hatched chicks in my rabbitry. When these girls all went broody at the same time, I had the bright idea to order some eggs for them to sit on. An absurd number of delays occurred before the eggs got here, and I apologised to the hens as I tucked the eggs under them. Every one of them has been sitting for over 50 days; the hen that started it all was on day 58 when the last egg hatched. I sooo want to put the chicks in the brooder, where I can keep a really close eye on them, but I feel like these girls have worked too hard for me to snatch the fruits of their labors like that.

    There are no guarantees that a hen will stay that long, of course. I have had quitters, too - usually a hen that got tired of wrestling with another hen that wanted the same nest. If you want the hen to quit, I have heard that putting her in a cage with a wire floor and nothing to snuggle into will break her. I have never had broodiness be inconvenient enough for me to try to stop one, so no experience on that score.
  5. Siler

    Siler Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    Central Indiana
    Quote:Mine does the very same thing! It's halerious to watch, but at the same time I worry for her. She wants to be a mommy so bad.

    I have noticed the dustbathing as well. She'll sooner go for the dirt at the base of my mimosa trees then run back to the nest. I had to start feeding her in the nest just so she'll eat. She's also pulled the feathers off her breast area. She doesn't make a lot of noise while in the box, but when she jumps out it's a sound I've never heard from the other girls. It's a sudden screeching almost like one being man-handled as she runs through the yard then if you listen you'll hear the turkey-like sounds while she puffs out like a tom turkey.
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida

    This is a thread I began about How to Break a Broody, there may be advice you could use there:

    hen is different, and few are good at counting. Certainly some will quit before they hatch anything, whether it's mid-set with fertile eggs or after 21 days setting on fakes. But most of the broody hens in my experience would continue to set until Doomsday if nothing hatched or intervention wasn't taken.

    Unless you have some other good reason for letting her set without hatching, such as giving her time to heal from an injury, I think it's best to break her broody spell. It can cause unnecessary wear on her health and make her more vulnerable to illness. Some hens' spells can be broken simply by carrying them far away from the nest and out with her other flockmates, others need time in a Broody Buster.

    By the way, right now I have SIX hens lodging in the Broody Apartments, plus one goose setting on her eggs. You could use your broody to hatch any kind of egg, chicken, duck, guinea, turkey, peafowl (I think), or goose.
  7. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Songster

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Sunny_Side_Up - great link!

    Oh Lordy, I think I may need a Broody Buster [​IMG]

    Ms Houdan - name: Misty Cologne - has balded her belly to keep her (imaginary) eggs warm. A lot of the fluff & feathers have grown back but she is distinctly warmer and a whooooooooole lot crabbier than the others.

    So far she is eating, drinking and does go out for a bit with the rest.
    I am assuming she stays on the roost if I put her there at night but I'm not about to sleep in there to make sure!
    Generally she is in the nestbox when I come to feed them around 6A so it is already light out.

    IF - and that is a HUGE I-F - I got her a fertilized egg or 2 to hatch what are the chances her chicks would be safe with the other 4 hens?
    I really don't have room for a lot of chicks or anyplace as safe as the coop I could fence off for Mama & babies until they're grown.

  8. davimi

    davimi In the Brooder

    May 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    There's already been a lot of discussion on other threads about the ideal way to keep broody hens while they're setting and then afterwards while they raise their chicks. While you might have success letting your hen set in the coop with the others and raise her chicks there, it's better to have her separated. You could experiment by giving her eggs while leaving her in the coop, or just bust her broody spell at this time and wait for a better opportunity later.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by