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broody hen in fall - is that OK?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Silattahoe, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Silattahoe

    Silattahoe Out Of The Brooder

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    One of our young layhens (6 months old, started laying 1 month ago) started breeding her eggs (and the other hens'?) about 6 days ago. My kids are the ones that get the eggs from the nest boxes and there haven't been that many this week but they didn't tell me that always the same chicken is staying in the nest box. Today, I was getting worried because I hadn't seen that one chicken in a while and went to check on her. I thought she was dead! She was in the nest box but not moving. I poked her a bit and found that she was alive and looked quite OK but she would not come out of the nest box. I didn't want to drag her out of the nest box as I was afraid I would hurt her (or the eggs that she might be sitting on).

    My kids are excited by the idea that she will breed her own chicks but it's mid September now and I don't know if it's a good idea to have chicks hatching just when it gets colder. We live in the mountains and winter starts here pretty early. What should I do? Take the eggs from the hen or let her breed? I am also worried that the hen doesn't go outside to eat and drink. Should I carry her out? (One more note: we specifically kept our rooster so that our eggs would be fertile so that we can breed in the Spring (in incubator)).
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    I've had 2 hens hatch chicks in the middle of winter this year and they were fine. She'll keep the chicks warm as long as you have a nice, dry, draught free area for her to stay with them. If your other hens are laying where she is, mark the eggs she's on with a non-toxic marker (I use an eye pencil). And don't worry, she'll get up to eat and drink and poo. Broodies are not very active. But if you are worried you can place a small bowl of water near her to encourage her.
     
  3. bradleyjpyle

    bradleyjpyle Out Of The Brooder

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    Im hatching out a batch of chicks right now... maybe 20? Should start hatching around the 26-27th of september... and thats in central New York. We will have to see how "easy" it is to keep chicks over winter.

    -I really want to start another batch as soon as this one hatches to get a good sized flock of layers for next year. Waiting till the spring to buy chicks really puts me behind where I want to be.

    Its good your kids are excited about it. I cant get my 5 year old so much as interested enough to look at the chickens lol.
     
  4. mommto3kiddos

    mommto3kiddos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a Banty hen go broody around Halloween last year. She sucessfully hatched 5 regular sized Chicken eggs. b/c she was a little one herself I did place her and babies in brooder after they were born. She still sat on those 5 even when all 5 were bigger than her! If she is a determined momma she will do awesome! When she hatched those 5 babies the temps were in the 30's!

    She was also 7 months old. She has given us 3 eggs over her year and a half life. She has went broody 4 times and hatched 3 clutches.. Shes my only A+ mommy hen.. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  5. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Some breeders purposefully hatch in the winter because they say the chicks will grow bigger than those hatched in warmer weather. As the above have stated, mom will keep them warm enough. They'll be fine.
     
  6. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep, not a problem. I have 3 broodies right now and they will all be raising babies.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Precautions if hen and chicks free-range. Wind break with snow free areas. Higher quality feed for chicks since natural forages will be limited. Increase effort to keep shallow liquid water when diet becomes more dominated by feed. My feed only fed chicks must have near continous access to water while free-range chicks foraging largely for insects and plant materials get by with one or at most two trips to pond during course of day. I say again windbreaks. For me, such late season chicks run a bit smaller than spring hatched.
     
  8. Silattahoe

    Silattahoe Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the answers! That is very encouraging.
    One more question, though: if the hen really successfully hatches chicks, should I separate her and the mother from the rest of the flock, especially the 2 roosters?
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I often leave a hen brooding chicks with one rooster and do so routinely with small groups of free-ranging birds as rooster provides additional protection for chicks from Coopers hawks. Breeds I have (American Dominique and American Game) the roosters are very good with chicks and generally much better than hens that are not mother of chicks. Not all breeds / individual roosters are same.


    Rooster with confined hen and chicks does not provide any real benefits that I can see and may be a source for increased exposure of chicks to parasites carried by adults. Confined with minimal alternatives to forage may increase odds chicks pick up parasite laden feces with ingest feed.
     
  10. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Chances are, you don't need to separate them. Momma will protect them even from the top hen or rooster. But, best to err on the side of caution. I do separate my broody with chicks. It just makes life easier for them.
     

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