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Broody hen...not sure what to do.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by rosiesgirls, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. rosiesgirls

    rosiesgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2014
    Broadalbin/Perth
    I got my very first chicks ever just last summer. I have 15 hens and 1 rooster who all hatched early last July (5 Buff Orpingtons, 5 Black Austrolorps, 5 Columbian Wyandotts and the roo's a Partridge Cochin). We got our first egg on Christmas Eve and they've all started producing since then. We've been getting 12-14 eggs a day now for over a month. (YAY!!) [​IMG]

    Now, one of my Buff Orpingtons (Sadie) seems to be going broody. She's sitting in the nest box most of the time, puffs up and grumbles when we gather the eggs (often 2 or 3 under her in the late morning) and pecked my hubby's hand when he got them the other day. This morning when I "rolled" her for her eggs, I noticed she's pulled her feathers on her chest/belly.

    I'm not sure what to do at this point. I've read threads on how to break her broodiness, but I'm worried about her naked belly! Our temps right now are not getting above 15F and usually below zero at night. Our windchill today is -33!! I assume she'll just spend most of her time in the hen house (we have a heat lamp in there when it's this cold) until she grows her feathers back, but I'm not sure how long that'll be. Also, if she's this far into a broody period, will it be harder to break her?

    I actually had THOUGHT of letting one of the girls go broody at some point(even though they'll be mixed breed), but figured I'd wait until closer to warm weather, and actually had thought I'd wait until these girls were getting a bit closer to slowing down on production, so I'd have "replacement" hens. I'm also concerned about babies hatching in early March, when it will still be fairly cold in our neck of the woods. I'd welcome others' opinions...any advice? [​IMG]
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    St. Louis, MO
    The sooner you break a brooder, the faster it goes - usually.
    I usually break first time broodies because of their inexperience.

    That said, if you want to hatch a few chicks. She should be able to do it. It wouldn't hurt to give her a few eggs. They'll keep the eggs and chicks warm enough.

    Make sure you mark all the eggs you give her and remove volunteers after the first day or 2. In cold weather, it's best to start all broody eggs at exactly the same time.
     
  3. rosiesgirls

    rosiesgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2014
    Broadalbin/Perth
    Thanks for the help. I think we will go ahead and break her broodiness. I'm really not ready for more chickens yet and I'm not sure what I would do with the babies, since they won't be purebreds. (I supposed I could sell them to someone to raise for meat). Plus, I want to study up on what I should do/expect and do this in a more planful way.

    Now, I just have to get a cage for her. We're snowed in here for a day or two, but I guess that won't make that much difference...I hope.
     
  4. rosiesgirls

    rosiesgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2014
    Broadalbin/Perth
    "What if we DON'T break her, but keep taking her eggs?" This, from my hubby, has me wondering. What WOULD happen if we just kept taking the eggs out from under her? Obviously, she's getting out of the nest periodically, because there are several eggs there, every day. That means she's eating, drinking, pooping, etc.

    Anybody have any info on that? Is it bad for her?
     
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I had a broody hen die after several months of brooding. I thought it would be OK to just let her decide to give up. :(
    We did try a couple of times to break her, but gave up after a day or two of trying. Since then I have learned to give them closer to a week in the other coop/hutch.

    Also, after 24 hours of incubation, here is what has happened inside the egg:
    http://chickscope.beckman.uiuc.edu/explore/embryology/
    click on day one if interested

    I don't like to let hens set on fertile eggs and then collect them sometimes more than 24 hours after they have been laid.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    A broody will almost always come off the nest every day for 20 minutes to an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature. Occasionally they'll skip their daily stretch.
    A determined setter will sit whether there are eggs or not so once in that trance, the presence of eggs doesn't matter.
    Some may eventually give up but others won't. It takes a cooling of the underside to disrupt the hormones urging them to raise a family.
    In the meantime, they're not using their muscles or exercising their joints. The little food they take on their daily crop fill is insufficient to maintain their bodies.

    A friend had a broody pet turkey she didn't try to break sitting on infertile eggs a couple years ago. She probably sat for 3 months. By the time my friend tried to do something, it was too late. The hen was emaciated and couldn't walk. A couple months of tube feeding, physical therapy and $2000 of vet bills later, the turkey died anyway.

    IMHO, not breaking a broody when they're not going to hatch eggs just isn't good management.

    I use a wire dog cage but it doesn't need to be that elaborate. When I was young we had about 100 leghorn hens and usually about 5 cages hanging from the henhouse roof.
    They were homemade from sections of welded wire, a few sticks and baling wire. Just stout enough to hold a hen, food and water. Once they aren't constantly laying down any more you can let them out.
    Another idea is to cut a section of hardware cloth to fit the nest box and suspend it with a little frame to get cool air under her, perhaps even put some ice cubes in there.
    Having a broody jail cage handy is a good piece of equipment to keep on hand.
     
    3 people like this.
  7. rosiesgirls

    rosiesgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Broadalbin/Perth
    Oh, MY! Thank you, BOTH of you! I will definitely get right on it! I had no idea she might be so stubborn that she'd allow herself to become emaciated. But then again, hormones are powerful chemicals! Wish me luck!
     
  8. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Brenham TX
    2 of my amaraucana hens get broody often, one of them used to get broody almost every month. I used to break her and some times it took a long time (not only 3 to 5 days as the recommended time). I live in south Texas so letting them brood was not an option, way too hot in the nesting boxes. Last summer we added a small A/C in our coops so I decided to let my "once a month" broody brood because breaking her was taking almost the time it took to hatch eggs. Sure enough after 21 days he was over it, and so did the other broody hen. I guess I was lucky enough that they did not brood forever. I also took some black soldier grubs to her nest every morning and she used to get out to eat and drink every day. I would venture to say that each hen acts differently and you just have to watch them carefully to figure out what they would do.
     

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