Broody hen, no eggs, first-time chicken owner, lots of questions!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by leight54, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. leight54

    leight54 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have two hens, Darla and Nettie. Darla has gone broody, even though she has no eggs!

    I was out of town for 10 days. I had a pet sitter come in in the mornings and feed the girls and let them out, and my non-chicken-guy husband closed them in at night, after they went to roost. Well, I got home yesterday morning, and found Darla in the nest box (only have one), where she stayed ALL day. I asked my husband if she was in there when he went to close up, and he said "oh yeah, she's been in there every night". She only laid 2 eggs while I was gone.

    I took her out of the nest box and she seemed perfectly normal. She ate and drank, then went right back to the nest.

    This morning I took the nest box out of the coop. (My other hen, Nettie, sometimes sits in there but has never laid an egg in it. She lays out in the run, or drops them from the roost at night!) Now Darla is nestled down in the wood shavings in the coop, where the nest box was.

    My next thought is to close them out of the coop altogether during the day. Today's too nasty out (snow) but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer.

    Am I going about this the right way?? Will she stop on her own eventually?

    Is there a reason not to just wait it out? Is it because she won't eat enough? Am I asking too many questions?

    Advice, please?
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello! There's never too many questions! haha You can let your broody hen just come out of it on her own, but they do remain broody sometimes for over a month. I had a friend who's Silkie hen was so broody, she sat on a pinecone all winter! True story!

    Here's how I break my broodies: You put them in a cage, and elevate the cage if you can, by setting it upon something, with just food and water. Absolutely no bedding. If it's a wire cage, all the better. Always take any eggs they're trying to set on.

    Some people dunk their hens in water, which I think is kind of cruel. I have a broody Buckeye hen right now--she's been broody for at least a month, and she sits in a corner with no eggs. I just take her out of her spot, and I make her go outside. She's starting to come out of it.

    It doesn't hurt them to be broody, but they do lose weight sometimes. They will get up and eat, drink, and potty when they need to. Another thing they do is they pull their breast feathers out, so that their skin can come in contact with the eggs to help warm them better. So if your hen has a naked belly, that's nothing to worry about.

    You could always stick some fertile eggs under her and let her hatch a few chicks.......

    Take care and questions are always welcome!
  3. leight54

    leight54 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, Sharon!

    Oh, the water dunking does seem cruel! And I don't want to isolate her from her buddy, since there are only the two of them. Though as it is, the other one spends time out in the run alone, while Darla stays in the box inside. She isn't mean to me at all when I approach her. I can lift her right off and into my lap.

    Maybe I'll just continue to make sure she's eating/drinking and getting out at least some of the day, and see if she'll come out of it on her own. I just need to know that it isn't going to affect her health or well-being.
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    They do lose a lot of weight while brooding. If you have a really stubborn one, it can be hard on her body - some hens will starve themselves to death.

    I'd break her if you don't want chicks. If you do want more chickens, then get a feed store chick or two and slip it under her at night.

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