Broody hen and pecking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ECiesielczyk, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. ECiesielczyk

    ECiesielczyk Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 10, 2012
    So last fall, we had a hen go broody. We put a hatching egg under her (from a friend as we had no rooster). Baby hatched, mama took care of her and she is now part of the flock.

    10 days ago we added a rooster. Yesterday our mama hen went broody. I brought her inside for the night because she got pecked today and had some blood on her. Her comb, now that I cleaned it up, looks mostly fine but there is some dried blood. The rooster and the hens seem fine but we got hit with Nemo over the weekend so the girls and Mr. Roo have been stuck inside the coop and run since Friday, perhaps they got bored?

    Here are my hatching questions:
    1. I checked the eggs we got yesterday, they are fertilized. I would like to give her the two from today that she seems keen on keeping. Does she need to be separated? She wasn't last time but now we have a rooster.

    2. I checked our white egg from yesterday and a brown one. We had one white and a different brown one today. Is there a good chance that both are fertilized? If not, how many should I collect before letting her sit? I am happy to only add one or two to the flock at a time and she was an amazing mama last fall.

    3. The two eggs have a little blood mark on the outside because she keeps pushign them under her. Will that be fine or will the other chickens peck them and break them?

    Thank you in advance. I am a little new to the whoel hatching idea and until we added a rooster, we never had any pecking issues. My Welsummers seem to love him but a couple of my older girls ignore him (including this mama, a Black Jersey Giant). The rooster tends to ignore the BJG because she just doesn't tolerate him so not sure who pecked her but it wasn't like that this morning.

    p.s. I posted this under hatching eggs too because I am not sure which is the right category. Sorry if I did something wrong.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Its very possible she was pecked when she was on her break. I've noticed if my broodies linger outside for too long, my rooster and other hens will peck her and run her back to her nest. Like they're saying "hey woman, break time is over. Get back to work!". I separate my broody girls, they go into a good sized wire cage in the coop. The separation is mostly to prevent other hens from laying in her nest. If you're happy with adding two more chickens, give her two eggs. I'd probably give her three though, in case one isn't fertile or gets pushed out and is allowed to get cold or whatever. A little blood on the eggs shouldn't matter, especially if she's separated. Another thought on the pecking, maybe the bloody comb came from the rooster trying to mount her. I've seen this before, especially with more dominant hens who put up a fight. Good luck!
    Nikki
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Don’t worry about which category you put it in. This could fit under at least three different ones.

    Roosters get horrible treatment on this forum and mostly undeserved. I’ve never had a dominant rooster harm a chick or an egg in any way. I have had dominant roosters help a broody with her chicks. You are dealing with living animals so anything can happen, but it gets so blown out of proportion on here. I know there are exceptions but practically all the bad things that roosters do is because they are adolescents. They have the sex drive and the hormones running wild and have not matured enough to know how to control it.

    The other hens and not dominant roosters are a much greater risk to other chickens and chicks than a mature dominant rooster. Not all dominant roosters are good, but they are much more likely to protect the chicks from the other hens than harm the chicks. And a broody is usually perfectly capable of protecting the chicks herself especially if she has some room to work with. A whole lot of the times the other hens and the non-dominant roosters are a problem is because they are shoehorned into a too small a space. Chickens have developed ways to handle living in a flock. A big part of that is that the weaker runs away from the stronger when there is a conflict or they just avoid them to start with. They need enough room to run away and avoid.

    I don’t know which chicken caused the damage when you had them locked up in a really tight place because of the storm, but I’d bet it was not the rooster.

    Some of us separate hens brooding eggs and raising chicks and some don’t. I don’t and I always have at least one rooster and often several. But I also have a lot of space. There is no one right answer to this that fits all of us, just the answer that seems to fit our unique situations. Personally I would not let the rooster being around influence my decision at all, but you can certainly do it either way you wish. I will not say you are wrong whichever way you go.

    It’s hard to say how many you should put under her. You really can’t tell which ones are fertile without opening them. If most of the ones you check are fertile, most of the ones you don’t open are probably fertile, but there are no guarantees. And for a lot of reasons all eggs you start don’t hatch, even if they are fertile. If I wanted two more chicks I’d probably put three eggs under her. You might get anything from none to three. Nobody can tell you for sure.

    That blood on them would make me a bit nervous for a couple of reasons. It’s possible the others or even the broody could peck at the blood. I don’t think it’s likely but it is possible. Another risk is that the blood may cause some bacteria to start to grow there and get into the egg through the porous shell. If that happens the developing chick will die and the egg might even explode. Again, I don’t think this is very likely, especially since the blood will be very dry. I make it a point to only incubate clean eggs and I don’t have problems with bacteria growing in them. If you have other eggs I’d probably use them. Not because I think the risk is very high with those two eggs, but just because it seems like a reasonable precaution.

    I don’t know why you especially like these two eggs. If you have strong feelings toward them, there is a real good possibility that they will be fine. I won’t criticize you if you decide to try them. I think your odds of success with them will be pretty good.

    Good luck however you decide. Remember that there is not a right way or wrong way to do any of these things, just the way you decide.
     
  4. ECiesielczyk

    ECiesielczyk Out Of The Brooder

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    I was using those two eggs because those were the two that were laid yesterday and we ate the rest :) I called around (I am in the Albany/Pittsfield area in case anyone has some extra hatching eggs, especially any easter eggers).

    Thanks Ridgerunner. The rooster we got is almost a year old. I was originally told he was an adult but now I am not sure what the age ranges are. He has pecked some of my girls but it seems to be more in conjunctions with trying to mount.

    this morning I cleaned all the nesting boxes and moved her back into the coop. Right before I did, she stepped on one of the eggs when my toddler got a little close and she tried to back up. At this point, she has left the nest to my white maran who is stationed there. I guess we will see how it plays out. I was just worried about her. I know they are just animals but they are still my pets and I want to take care of them.

    I would prefer not to separate them if I don't have to. I really don't have a separate broody space and it worked so well last year that I believe this could work. I just want to make sure I am giving the best setup I can to help with success.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You are dealing with living animals. There are no guarantees. It’s sometimes hard to know what’s best. We each have our own unique situation.

    There are a lot of variations of the mating ritual. If it goes perfectly, the rooster dances and the hen squats. Her squatting spreads his weight out into the ground through her entire body, not just her legs. Roosters of the same breed practically always weight more than the hens. Her squatting takes care of that problem.

    The rooster hops on and grabs the back of her head, usually the feathers but he may occasionally grab her comb. All of them don’t always have real good technique and the hen needs to do her part and cooperate too. The head grab does a few things. It helps get him in the right position so he can hit the target and it helps him with his balance. But a real big thing is that the head grab tells her to raise her tail up out of the way. Notice it sometimes. When he grabs hold her tail goes up.

    The rooster touches his vent to hers, and then hops off. Often this vent touching goes so fast you hardly see it. Sometimes he has to work at it. After he hops off the hen stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. She’s not criticizing his performance or telling him she’s had better. That fluffy shake gets the sperm in the right position to fertilize her eggs.

    In some of the variations, the rooster may not dance or the hen may run away. If she runs the rooster may ignore her or he may give chase. She may keep running or may submit. As long as it ends with the hen squatting to spread that weight and the rooster is not really brutal to the point he puts her in danger, it works out. The hen does need to do her part.

    It’s not unusual for the hen to occasionally lose a few feathers on her back or at the back of her head. As long as it’s not too bad, this is no big deal. It’s when her back gets bare enough that he can cut her with his claws or maybe spurs or the back of the head gets so bare he is grabbing skin it gets risky.
     
  6. ECiesielczyk

    ECiesielczyk Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks again. Funny that you just responded with that because I had just gone out to check her and saw (for the first time with this rooster and ever) him mount successfully my golden maran and it all played out exactly as you said. She fluffed and they moved on. The BGJ has returned to the nest but was gone for a bit after she tried to go back and as soon as Mr. Roo entered the coop, she ran. That said, I checked again a bit later and it looked like he was keeping the other hens at bay and now she is back to sitting. Too much time has probably gone by for this egg but I will leave it and collect a couple more over the next day or so and if she stays for the enxt couple of days, I will mark them and slip them in.

    Thanks again for the reply, it has been very informative.
     

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