Broody Hen Thread!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by FarmerBoy24, May 1, 2011.

  1. hereorthere

    hereorthere Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh! Good question - I'll be facing this issue in a few weeks. Will watch & wait to see what the others say... [​IMG]
     
  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    There are a lot of different factors at play and you will have to consider your hen, number of chicks, flock conditions, and your yard and weather conditions to make the best decision for your flock....and the right time to integrate can be different with each brood. Generally, I like to integrate a bit older...anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for the reasons below.

    As to mom and babies going into the weather and outdoors...that is the easy part. The chicks are amazingly hardy and good broodies are watchful and attentive, however I do avoid direct extreme weather conditions. Since I am in milder but wet Oregon, my moms take babies out at the end of the first week...possibly sooner...but I like to start them in the closed hutch and then let them out to an attached grow out pen. Not because they couldn't handle the weather with mom, but because they are so tiny they can easily slip in a nook or cranny and strand themselves away from mom. The little darlings are super good at getting out but can never seem to figure out how to get back in. They peep like crazy and mom paces and calls, and if it is cold, they can expire quickly. So I like to wait until they are big enough so they can't slip through a crack in a fence or under a small gap. Since I do this regularly, I've created a fenced and hawk netted grow out pen attached to my broody hutch so that the babies have a play yard that is safe and secure.

    As to the outdoor conditions, it is bizarre to watch the hatchlings. When you start brooding with store chicks and heat lamps, it is totally counter intuitive that chicks can go running around in the rain at less than a week old...in the cold...in below freezing temps...but they not only survive but thrive! (Their lovely little down jackets keep them warm, then there is mom for those quick warm ups and naps). But as I said, I do avoid extreme weather conditions, and kept the small babies locked in the hutch with mom in January when we had 2 weeks of subzero chill factor and 6 inches of snow....so that batch didn't make it to the grow out pen until they were 2 weeks old after the snow had melted and weather warmed back to the 30's and 40's.

    Not with intention, but I did a side by side experiment with one February broody hatch...3 of 5 eggs hatched under my broody, and those chicks never batted an eye at the sub freezing (upper teens/low 20's) weather, and mom was having them up and scratching by day 3...running around by the end of the week (they were in an enclosed building so out of the direct elements but no heat in the building). I had wanted more chicks so I had purchased day old chicks to integrate with the day old hatchlings...mom was loving and accepting of the fosters, but I lost every last one of those sets of fosters...three successive attempts...until I got tired of taking out dead chicks. The fosters just couldn't adjust to the cold or to a broody hen after being spoiled by "greenhouse conditions." Since I burned a coop down with heat lamps, I don't do heat lamps anymore. So I ran into problems with smaller fosters (by this time 3rd set) trying to huddle with mom for warmth and getting kicked by mom while she tried to teach the older hatchlings how to scratch. One was actually kicked to death that way. However, while the fosters were struggling, the hatchlings were running all over the fosters

    All of my hatchlings grow faster, feather sooner, lay earlier. My broody hatched chicks grow so much faster that I have to adjust my eye when looking at other heat lamp brooded chicks as I will guess they are younger than they are since my perception is now skewed.

    You will also have to take into consideration dangers to the chicks. After checking for possible dead corners and gaps, you also need to consider predators. There is nothing like the sound of peeping to bring out the predators. I never saw the Cooper's Hawk until I hatched chicks and let them run outdoors in their pen. The hawk would sit on the fence post of the grow out run eyeing the babies under the hawk netting while mom screamed. Finally it went away in frustration, but I can guarantee if one of those babies had been loose in the yard, it would have been gone.


    Next consider the broody hen and her level in the pecking order. Dominant hens on broody hormones are a force to reckon with...NOBODY messes around with her chicks. While my Banty is very protective of her chicks, less dominant hens can be harassed by the more dominant hens putting chicks in danger of being trampled in the scuffles or stranded and stressed. Because my main broody is a bantam, and my other favorite broody is a less dominant hen, I don't attempt to integrate my chicks until they are fully feathered so that if they get stranded or caught in the middle of a short tussle, it won't stress them so much. I also wait a little longer so that the chicks immune systems have a chance to grow stronger (highly advised by ag literature).

    Those are some things to take under consideration and no one answer fits all...as I said each flock is different and even each brood is different.

    Congratulations on your broody hatch and good luck with integration (and pen building).
    Lady of McCamley
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  3. chickencrazy999

    chickencrazy999 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey well It sometimes varies large fowl would lay up to 12 which is then considered a clutch but just wait and see. Leave the eggs if you want her to set and when she thinks she has enough then she will sit hope this helped
    Ella
     
  4. TinaM13

    TinaM13 Out Of The Brooder

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    thank you so much for sharing your experiences..it has helped with some of the decisions I will make. Lady is my youngest hen, about 9mths old..my other hens (3 now) are EE's. I lost half my flock this winter to raccoons. It was a rough one for sure. Fixed that problem and now for more updating..told my husband we should just convert the barn into a big chicken coops as right now every stall has different groups in them and the goats get the hallway lol although they don't care.
    I think Lady will stay where she is for the time being. Her mate was stressing out as he didn't know where she disappeared too, but he got to see her today when I opened her door and he seems calmer now. Excited to watch these 3 little ones grow up, along with my other 10 little chickee-poos lol
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  5. chickencrazy999

    chickencrazy999 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh what sweet chicks and a beautiful mama I'm sorry to hear about the raccoon attack
    Ella
     
  6. DarynA146

    DarynA146 Out Of The Brooder

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    all my silkies in the same cage as her are making loud sounds and she is in the nest[​IMG][​IMG]
     
  7. Angelicisi

    Angelicisi Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    My broody blue is still taking care of her lil brood and all the CX that are growing still lol...and today before dawn she was screaming so I let them out and she high tailed it to a nest crate and gave us a big ol egg! Hahaha :gig love a broody that lays!

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    1 person likes this.
  8. zmaryellen

    zmaryellen Out Of The Brooder

    Day 23 and no chicks (13 eggs slightly staggered)..... [​IMG]broody still sitting and getting annoyed when we look in on her. I'm concerned, especially since I just read that someone's eggs are hatching at 18 days!!!! Is there anything we can/should do?
     
  9. elsfieldchickens

    elsfieldchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    My broody game hen is very grumpy and will attack any chickens that come near
    [​IMG]
     
  10. BunnyLover44

    BunnyLover44 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, so just found this thread... my hens have never been broody but I thnk it would be cool having a broody hen I might be crazy but how can I make them become broody faster?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014

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