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Broody hen and chicken mom with issues

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Dizzywitch, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi All!
    I have a hen that decided to start being broody today... I think. :cd

    Backstory... she refuses to lay eggs in the nesting box set up for her in the chicken shed. After several weeks of us hunting for her eggs she settled on a corner under the deck, inconvenient but I can deal with that, mostly because no hunting is involved. To encourage her to keep it in one spot, we put a few golf balls and a single egg in her nest. For about three weeks she's been laying and then running off to hunt grasshoppers and sunflower seeds.

    Today, she skipped the morning treat rituals and just ran to her nest, laid an egg, and hasn't moved except to get water and food this afternoon but she was right back to the nest 15 minutes later and is still there. So questions since she only has two good eggs (one is from another hen) under her:
    1- will she continue to lay until she has a certain number?
    2- should I remove the rotten egg and the golf balls?
    3- should I put yesterday's eggs back under her? Or maybe more but the others have been in the fridge for a few days.
    4- should I try to move her? She's in an area that I can fence off but I'll still worry about fox and raccoons.
    5- the night temps are starting to drop so three weeks from now they might be in the high 40's or low 50's. is that too cold for babies?
    6- I was planning on setting up a feed station close to her. Yes? No?

    I know I have other questions but just haven't thought of them yet so any advice or comments are welcome!
    :weee
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Usually people consider them actually broody if they stay on the nest all day and night for a couple of days. They need a safe place to nest. Some people leave them in with the flock and some make a separate place, so other hens won't get in the nest or move eggs around or add to the clutch. If she's not isolated off by herself, it's a good idea to mark the egg you want to hatch with a Sharpie. Definitely remove a rotten egg.

    She might still be collecting her clutch of eggs or she might be ready to stop laying and set on them. Or she might just be sitting around for another reason. You might find tht eggs which have been refrigerated will hatch, but the best way to save egs to be hatched is warmer than that, preferably around 55, or just at room temperature.

    If she really is broody and hatches some, you also have a choice of letting her raise the chicks with the flock or . If they are in with the flock, then when she loses her mothering intinct and goes back to roosting and laying, the chick will already be integrated. For the first few weeks, she will take care of keeping them warm enough, seeing that they eat and drink, teach them to forage, etc. You don't have to do anything but remove any layer feed and replace with grower, chick starter, flock raiser -- anything but layer. You can put out a separate small bowl of oyster shell in case any of the layer hens want it; the chicks will pay little or no attention to it. You can even feed the whole flock chick starter medicated with amprolium, and eat the eggs. Here is an article about broodies:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/guide-to-letting-broody-hens-hatch-and-raise-chicks

    Good luck!
     
  3. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Judy, thank you so much for the advice and the link to the article! It was very informative! Gertrude slept on the eggs under the deck last night and puffs and growls when I get near her so when she gets up, nonhatchable "eggs" will be removed, the good ones will be marked, and I'm going to take the articles advice and try to move her this evening. Let the adventure begin!
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    Have fun!
     
  5. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Day three of the broody chicken saga... Last night Gertrude got out of the box for a quick walk about and snack. Being a stealth chicken mom (not really) I pulled out the old egg and the golfballs. Once night fell, it was time to trudge down under the deck and move her and her nesting box to the shed with her flock-mates. She was not happy and was quite willing to tell me so but she stayed in the box and protected her eggs. When morning came, Gertrude was enticed by Igor, the rooster and mealworms so off she went for a bit of free ranging and bug eating. Wanting to make sure she made it back to her nest, off I went, only to find no chicken, a missing egg, and a dog toy in the nest box. Guess the dog figured it was a fair trade. :barnie

    So, it was off to check under the deck. Yep, there she was. She had gathered several rocks and sitting on them. The nesting box was brought back down to under the deck. Gertrude quickly abandoned her rocks, and crawled back on the eggs. It's going to be a long 18 more days... :th
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Maybe put her in a wire dog crate in the coop with her nest for a few days, then open the door and see of she'll stay....and keep the dogs access to the coop blocked.
     
  7. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We've made it to day 15. My crazy chicken did not like the options presented to her and was determined to nest under the deck so at 6am every morning I carry Gertrude, her eggs, and her nesting box to her spot and then at about 8 at night she's back up to the chicken shed where she hunkers down for the night. My DH said I was the crazy one for catering to a chicken at that hour of the day, but when you have to be to work by 7 you do what you have to do.

    Over the course of the day, the other girls wander down to lay an egg or two in the box I placed next to her and fill her in on the gossip... "You'll never guess what that cat did!" and "can you believe he ate all that out of the garden!" or what ever it is chickens gossip about. Even Igor makes a daily trip down to check on her, give clucks of encouragement, and sometimes, even a little dance. She has zero interest in the dancing! One more week and we'll see if this was all in vane.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Day 16: the morning started with light showers so the chickens had to stay in their shed a bit longer than they like. The rooster let me know he was not happy about it. By the time I got out there, everyone ran out of the shed except Gertude. She stayed in her box, growled, and fluffed at me. I took that as a sign to leave her alone. Four hours later, she's still in her box in the shed! :celebrate Hopefully this means shes put herself in lock down and the crazy chicken carrying routine is over. I must confess, though, I'm running out there every 30 minutes to make sure she's where she belongs. Four more days... I hope! This is worse than being pregnant!
     
  9. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am laughing, but also sympathise with you. They say that using a Broody takes out all of the worry for us. Bah! You have to be kidding me!

    I was all smoke and mirrors at the start - "She'll take care of it all, she has it under control, let nature take it's course."

    As it turned out, Nature's Course was to let two rotten eggs explode under my Broody Hen.

    The smell - it was awful [​IMG]

    I candled the remaining 9 eggs, 6 of which still look viable and one I'm not sure about and didn't want to make the call of good or bad.

    We are on Day 15. And I thought the wait for eggs was long!

    Good luck with your girl, and please keep us updated.

    - Krista
     
  10. Dizzywitch

    Dizzywitch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Day 17: I typed too soon yesterday. Miss Gertrude decided to be social early in the afternoon... about the time I decided to make peach jam. She wandered, she ate, and then she ran under the deck and panicked and paced and clucked loudly. I tried to wait her out but after about 15 minutes of her attitude, I caved. I went and got her box and brought it to her. She quickly crawled in and made herself comfortable on her eggs. Me, I got to go clean burned jam off of the stove because it boiled over in the few minutes it took to make my crazy chicken happy.

    Krista74- good luck with your remaining 6 and I'm so glad you said something about candling. I've been going back and forth on whether I should or shouldn't, really just kind of afraid to go through all of this and find out that none of the eggs were developing. The thought of exploding eggs... that did it for me so candling was done this morning. The results were three unfertilized eggs from my RIR ( shes young and only been laying a month) and three with well developed babies in the eggs from my game hen.

    Three is a good number to start with... Now here's hoping they're pullets and not roos.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014

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