Broody Hen...let her sit on eggs or not

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bbecca, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. bbecca

    bbecca Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have my first broody hen on my hands. Been reading about how to break them but if I can't I was wondering if I could give her just 1 or 2 eggs to sit on? Here's my concerns, not sure wether my eggs are fertile yet and if they aren't will this just encourage her broodyness more? Also im in the middle of winter with temps in the 20/30's at night, Is it too cold to try to hatch chicks now? (They will have to hatch and live in the coop from day one) any advice would be great please
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I personally would break her. Odds are she will be broody again in about another 6-8 weeks, than again after that. Most broodies are repeat offenders.

    People do hatch chicks during winter but it isn't ideal. The chicks miss out on grass and getting good nutrients from the ground.

    You can leave her sitting. Most hens will sit for 2-3 months before they get wore down enough to become unbroody. It can take a few months for them to regain the weight they lost and it can slow down them becoming broody again.

    It depends on what you want to deal with right now. Broody hatching doesn't always go well. Some hens want to sit but don't actually know what to do with chicks. You always need to be ready to step in and brood them.

    There's also drama that goes along with a broody hen. Others can become aggressive with her, and it also can encourage other hens to go broody. One broody can lead to multiple broodies.
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I let a broody hatch a couple winters ago, it was brutal cold and it worked out OK, but I did have a space to separate her from the flock and that was key. I also had lots of time to monitor things frequently and change out frozen water for thawed. The chicks may have gotten some mild frostbite on their feet, I still have all the pullets and they have funky feet.
    I would not recommend it or do it again.

    You'll need to decide if you want her to hatch out some chicks, and how you will 'manage' it.
    Do you have, or can you get, some fertile eggs?
    Do you have the space needed? She may need to be separated by wire from the rest of the flock.
    Do you have a plan on what to do with the inevitable males? Rehome, butcher, keep in separate 'bachelor pad'?
    If you decide to let her hatch out some fertile eggs, this is a great thread for reference and to ask questions.
    It a long one but just start reading the first few pages, then browse thru some more at random.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/496101/broody-hen-thread

    If you don't want her to hatch out chicks, best to break her broodiness promptly.
    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day(you don't have to) and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.
    Water nipple bottle added after pic was taken.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  4. bbecca

    bbecca Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @aart @oldhenlikesdogsthank you for the advice. Lots of good points to think about and decide on. I do have enough room to separate her if I was going to let her hatch out but I really don't have the extra time to monitor and deal with new chicks right now. I had decided to break her and go get the equipment today to do it and went down to coop this morning but she was not in nesting box, she was roosting with others, I have seen her come out with rest of girls a few times but then goes back in sits on nest again. She was mad at me moving her today but let me do it without pecking me unlike the last few days. Could she be coming out of it herself? She doesn't seem as intense..
     
  5. bbecca

    bbecca Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And btw thanks for the photo too, gave me a much better idea on how to do it.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I have had half hearty broodies, and I've had what I call walking broodies. It's possible the colder temperatures are keeping her from heating up enough to keep the broody going.
     
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