Broody Hen, Need Advice.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sunny & the 5 egg layers, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    My young bantam hen just began laying a couple of months ago. She is a barnyard mix, her father was a golden sebright and her mother was an Old English Game Bantam. I have been noticing that she has been spending more time than usual in the nest boxes, and ever since Friday, March 13th, my hen has shown all the signs of broodiness, sleeping on the nest, growling at me and biting my hand when I get too close, etc.
    Currently she seems satisfied sitting on two golf balls :lol: but I check everyday to be sure she didn't add any real eggs to her clutch.

    I could use a few more layers in my flock, but I do have a couple of concerns.

    Last July I had a broody golden sebright hatch and raise two chicks. I separated her nest inside of a dog crate on cinder blocks in the coop and she was an amazing mother. Everyday I opened the door to the cage and only closed it at night time (to prevent my curious hens from disrupting her). The experience was amazing for both my hen and myself, and I feel like it brought us closer in many ways. However, ever since she went broody, it started an out of control mite infestation that took months to get rid of, seven dust finally did the trick, but the mites costed me a lot of frustrations and they even contributed to the death of one of my best layers.
    The mites are gone now, but I am wondering how to keep them from coming back, especially now since I have another broody. What is the best way to prevent the onset of a mite infestation in a broody hen?
    My new broody hen is a rescue and came from a bad situation, she is very skittish and raising her own babies may be just what she needs. I wouldn't mind adding a couple standard sized chicks to my flock (I'm thinking maybe a couple Easter Eggers).
    How long should I wait before I give her chicks? As of today, she has been sitting strong for 5 days or so.
    How many full sized chicks can a bantam hen handle?

    Thank you.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Mites are such a challenge. I've heard it said that if you have chickens, you have mites. I put out a light dusting of Sevin in the coop maybe every month or so, and in the nests at the same time, plus any time I change out the hay in them. I've never actually seen a bug on one of my chickens, though I don't believe for a minute that they have been 100% mite free for several years. Another thing that actually helps a lot, and is even natural, is wood ashes in their dust box or dusting areas.

    I would guess that after 5 days of true broody sitting, chances are good that she will accept the chicks and go ahead and raise them. I've also never owned a bantam hen, so I won't try to answer that one. I suppose it partly depends on your climate, on how much warming up the mama has to do. Good luck!
     
  3. Odelia

    Odelia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How many chicks would you like her to raise? She may not believe that a dozen chicks for example came out of only two golf balls. I wouldn't give her more than 5-6 chicks personally. I would also wait a bit longer to make sure she is very serious about being broody.
     
  4. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you for your input. Mites are a huge challenge, I'm glad you haven't had to deal with them to the extreme that I did. I am curious to know if sevin dust is a good preventative for mites, or is it a treatment for mites? In other words, if using sevin dust too regularly, will the mites build an immunity against it, therefore reducing the chances of sevin dust killing them?
    I will re-dust my broody hens nest with sevin just to be safe.
    [​IMG] I am from Massachusetts, by the way, so the weather here is currently above freezing during the day (30F-40F) and below freezing at night (20F or so).
    [​IMG] Could you imagine?!

    My hen is tiny, so I am only looking to add about 3 standard sized chicks, but the feed store minimum around here is six. I was thinking about ordering chicks online, but the only hatcheries that I know of with a three chick minimum is Meyer and My Pet Chicken, both of which seem to be sold out until Late April-May on the breed I want (Easter Eggers). Not to mention buying from a feed store is significantly cheaper.

    How long would you recommend that I wait before I give my hen chicks? I will likely be moving my hen into a dog crate inside of the coop, perhaps tonight. I'm still deciding, but I am nervous about leaving her inside the nest box. The nest box she is currently in is about three feet off the ground, and it has full access to the rest of the flock.

    Thank you both for the help, its greatly appriciated.
     
  5. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I usually wait till she has run the 21 days that it would take for them to incubate the eggs themselves. Something about letting her hormones run the course. Bantams can easily handle a dozen of chicks their size so they would have no problem with a half dozen LF. Golf balls. I just gave a broody chicks that was sitting on a plastic roll out nest box with no eggs. I don't know how she thought she hatched those chicks from nothing. But she is an experienced broody and is doing fine with these.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Yup, they definitely can't count, and will definitely try to hatch an empty nest for days on end.

    I don't know whether 5 days is too soon, but I know I've given a broody chicks after about 10 days without a problem. They are all individuals though, in the end.

    There is no problem with her hatching them out in a nest 3' off the ground. In the old days, hens often hatched them in the hayloft, and they would drop to the barn floor after a day or two. Of course they won't be able to get back up, at least not for a couple of weeks (you'd be surprised how high a 3 week old chick can jump.) But mama will just wallow out a spot on the coop floor, or just cover them wherever they run to her and gather under her.
     
  7. Odelia

    Odelia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your feed store doesn't work like ours. I can go and pick up one chick if I want. They are in brooders and you get as many as you want of what they have on hand. So in your case I would get the six from the feed store and sell the ones you don't want to keep when they are at least 6 weeks old. Lots of people don't want to brood chicks and I have found that they sell quite easily (as long as they are all actually pullets.) It is best if they are as young as possible. My broody hen didn't accept the one that was a week and I ended up having to take her out and just brooding them under a light. It is also best if you put them under her when it is dark. Just slip them under her and take out the fake eggs when you do so. Good luck.
     
  8. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you all for the advice.
    I was thinking of ordering from a hatchery, but the breed I am looking for likely wouldn't arrive until April 8th-April 10th. By then my hen will have been sitting for four weeks on her golf balls. Is this too long for her? Will she throw in the towel after the 21 days is up? She is a new broody, this is her very first time, but she does seem to be doing quite well with her golf balls.
     
  9. Odelia

    Odelia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know how long she will remain broody. It varies from bird to bird and each time won't be exactly the same. That is a long time to wait for chicks and she may give up. If she isn't broody any longer by the time the chicks show up are you prepared to brood them yourself?
     
  10. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you very much for your advice. I placed an order online yesterday. Hopefully my hen will still be broody by then. She's still holding strong, as of today. :)
     

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