Broody Hen - to break or not to break - HELP!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NewEnglandChick, May 20, 2010.

  1. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Songster

    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    I really have no preference either way - breaking her, or encouraging the broodiness...I just need advice on both. I've been doing some reading on here, but some of my questions are still unanswered.

    My first thought was to buy her some fertilized eggs to sit on and hatch - that would be fun!. I've even found some local people willing to sell me some of their fertilized eggs (thanks to BYC!!) but I'm curious if her "broodiness" has a time limit. For example, she's been on her box for about 4 days now. If I get her eggs next week, she'll be sitting for about 10 days before I even put eggs under her. Will she notice the eggs are new and sit on them the entire time they'll need to hatch, or will she give up 10 days early because I put them under her late?

    She's currently sitting on a fake egg (as I've taken her 1 real egg) away. Will she eventually give up on being broody...or will it take the full 3 weeks (is that the correct amount of time?) to try to hatch that fake egg? If she stops being broody and I bring home eggs, will she instinctively start up again and try to hatch them? I want to make sure that if I get her eggs to sit on, that she will hatch them. Are there intervals where she is broody, stops, and then starts again? Or does she just stay broody until the eggs she's on hatch?

    I've also read about people trying to break a broody hen, and that putting chicks under her will help. I currently have 2 BR chicks (from the local feed store) in the workshop, but they're over a week old. Is that too old to put under her? I should be getting another 3 buff orpington chicks as well (I was hoping to have them by now, but oh well). Should I wait and put brand new chicks under her instead?

    Also, will I be able to mix my feed store chicks with any chicks she hatches? They would be varying ages, but would she take care of them...or would I want to take her chicks away from her after a couple days (like when I get my day-old feed chicks) and keep all the chicks seperate? [I've always had chicks of the same age and kept them seperate from my flock until they're a few months old...but I've never had chicks of varying ages, so that part is new to me.]

  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    I haven't had a broody yet, but from what I understand, they will continue to sit (on fake eggs, real eggs, air) unless you break them. They can starve themselves to death if left to be indefinitely broody. And from what I understand, chickens have no concept of time.

    If you want more chickens, then get some eggs and let her hatch them and let her raise them. When your BR chicks are old enough and roughly the same size as the hens, you can integrate them in with the flock. I wouldn't put week old chicks under your broody.
  3. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    'Newborn' chicks take more care from mom and older chicks might pick on them.
    Also, older chicks won't instinctively know that the hen is mom and vice versa. They won't know she can keep tham warm and she won't want to keep them warm.

    I have put freshly-hatching incubator chicks under a new-mom, when the chicks were the same age or very close. But even that can sometimes fail.

    A broody mom hums to her chicks and makes noises while they hatch. I think that can make the bond much tighter.

    A hen will set a nest for 6 weeks or more if that's what it takes to hear chicks peeping and hatching under her. It's not healthy, though. But that 10 days won't make a bit of difference. Just make sure she gets off a little very now and then to eat & drink.

    I have a hen who has set for almost 2 weeks without food or water. I have recently been making her take breaks to eat and drink.
    I have another hen who got off the nest every single day to eat & drink, but not when her eggs were hatching. She was glued to that nest until 75% of the babes hatched, and was only off long wnough to make sure the chicks had a snack before she plopped back onto the nest to hatch the other 25%.
  4. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Songster

    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    All right... so no older chicks in with the broody.

    Thanks for the info, wegotchickens. Today I bought some small metal feeders and put them in the corners of her nesting box (1 food & 1 water). I'm hoping she'll figure out that she can eat and drink right from there (Is that expecting too much?![​IMG])

    I've got eggs lined up to buy, so I think I'll go get them next week so we can get this broodiness over and done with!! I've also discussed with the hubby about building her an enclosure within the coop, so that she and the chicks will be with the rest of the flock, but seperated.

    BTW: How do you get your hen to take food & water breaks? IF mine gets out of her box, she perches on her roost (which is real close by) and watches until I leave...then hops down & gets back on the box. Really hoping the new dishes in the box will work! [​IMG]

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