Broody hen/broody breaker poop/lice nits/etc, specific questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by amama, May 24, 2016.

  1. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    I've looked over a lot of broody hen articles on here and they were helpful, but a few of my questions weren't addressed.

    We have 14 Black Austalorp pullets that are about 7 months old, and no roosters. One of the hens is broody, although she'll give up and get out of the coop once you take the eggs from under her (if she doesn't peck you too badly first:)

    We weren't planning on having chicks yet, but I'm pretty sure she has stopped laying so I either need to break her or get her some eggs to hatch.

    1) Do most hens mother/raise the chicks after hatching or would I need to have a brooding station set up? I'd much prefer not to raise the chicks myself.


    I've also posted on other threads about them having lice from when I got them off Craigslist, and I haven't seen any lice alive in over a month, but the nits are still there, even though we've dusted with Poultry Dust 3 weeks in a row. I really think the nits got smothered in coconut oil the first day that I sprayed (and bathed them in Neem oil). The hens don't preen excessively anymore, (most of) their bottoms are cleaner and I don't see as much diarrhea as when I found the lice a month ago. None of them ever stopped laying because of it, but their bottoms are still very nit covered, which collects poo.

    2) Should I not allow her to hatch chicks if she still has nits?

    3) For those who isolate hens for hatching, (and I would have to because it's a big fight for one nest box each day and they all pile in on top of her) do you let the hen out of a garage/barn area to use the bathroom and then hope she comes back to the broody area/put her back on the nest?

    4) For those of you who use a broody breaker (wire cage/hutch) in a separate area, how do you handle the poop, just place newspaper down below the pen?

    Thank you for your help
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I wouldn't let her set yet, she's young and potentially unpredictable. I would wait until she matures a bit. If she's broody now she will go broody many more times.

    You may need to wash her to remove the clusters, though usually they fall off if they are dead. You may need to keep dusting.

    I let the poop pile up in my broody box, than I scoop it up when I remove the hen and apply some barn lime to dry it out.
     
  3. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    What age do you mean when you say wait until she matures a bit?

    We've washed the chickens twice, once was just a bath, the second was a 30 min. soak and then wash/pick at the nits, they still wouldn't budge and it just really stressed them all out as they weren't used to being handled before we got them.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    A seven month old hen is still young and growing, both mentally and physically, and setting eggs can be stressful on them. I prefer my hens to be a bit older, that's my preference, if you want her to try setting that's your decision. I find some younger hens aren't ready for the responsibility.

    I don't know what to say about the lice clumps, hopefully they eventually fall off. I have only dealt with it once on a broody silkie, and dusting took care of it.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I agree re: a hen setting at such a young age.

    CT
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    They'll preen the (hopefully dead) nits off eventually.
    You could trim the nit covered feathers off around vent to avoid the poops sticking......
    ....but if she still has loose stools another issue may need attention.

    My broody breaker cage has a 1x2 mesh bottom, most poop falls thru.

    Broody hatching area should be big enough for her to get up off nest, eat, drink, stretch her legs, and poop.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Don't forget about a good dust bath, my broodies sometimes get overrun with crawlers, they get a good dusting if I see any, otherwise the chicks will have them too and they can weaken them pretty quickly.
     
  8. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the advice, sorry but I'm still missing the actual good age to let her be broody, maybe 1.5 or something, or do you mean older than that even? I also would think I'd want to time it so it wasn't the middle of winter when I let her too.

    aart, you mentioned runny stools, I've been so confused ever since I got the hens. Most of them always have runny stools from the day we got them, I looked up chicken poop and found lots of great pictures that seemed to say was okay? I also had seen posts saying some hens always have poopy bottom feathers, so those are reasons why I didn't think to check for lice. That's why it got so bad before I realized that was going on. Now that they are doing better I am seeing more actual formed stools, which I hadn't seen before, but there are still plenty of hens with runny poo.

    So are you saying they shouldn't ever have loose stools?

    Since she's not old enough, I should put her in a broody breaker for a couple of days or just leave her alone since she'll get out of the boxes once I take the eggs?


    Thanks!
     
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I see loose poops during the summer when water consumption is high. If all or most of your birds have it I might try a different feed, some ingredients can cause loose poops as well as high protein items.

    I tend to wait until a hen is between 1-2 years or more before I let them go broody. Use your own judgment if you think your hen is ready. I personally don't hatch past July or August because I want my young ones to be big enough to handle our harsh winters.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Loose stools aren't terrible or uncommon..... heat and more water consumption as mentioned, too much fruit or other juicy treats.
    But if it's constant with dirty butts all the time it can be a problem....that has nothing to do with lice.
    Feces encrusted butt feathers can invite fly strike.
    I had some fluffier butted girls, cochin mixes, who always had dirty butts, I finally trimmed their feathers back there and it really helped.
    Got rid of them and have sleeker models now....once in a while one of them needs a trim too.
     

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