Broody hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HenOnAJuneBug, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How do you know if a hen is being broody, or if something is wrong with her. I have one about 6 months old that wants to stay in the nest. Every time I've checked, there is no egg. She acts irritable when anybody gets close (raises neck feathers, squawks). There are some blood drippings on the edge of the nest, but I suspect that might be from pecking a hen that got too close; I did witness another hen messing with her earlier.

    She looks and acts healthy. I checked her rear as best I could, but didn't see anything obviously weird (to my untrained eyes). She does occasionally get out and roam. She is the friendliest hen I have who will come to me and let me pick her up, which I always reward with a little scratch (but no more than 2x/day). She's my favorite, so I'm obviously concerned about her.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a lot of different clues that a hen might possibly be broody. She might spend practically all her time on the nest, defend her nest by pecking at you or growling at you if you put your hand close, walk around constantly making a puck, puck, puck sound when she is off the nest, or walk around with her feathers fluffed when she is off the nest. Since a broody hen does not poop in the nest but instead holds it until she is off the nest, you might see and smell some huge broody poops, but then you might not. I’ve had hens do all these and still not be broody enough to give eggs to. They are all clues, not absolute proof.

    Going broody is a matter of hormones. Sometimes those hormones hit them like a ton of bricks, they go deeply broody immediately. With experience you can immediately tell they are serious. But sometimes not so much. I’ve had a hen walk around acting partly broody for over a week before she finally committed to going fully broody. I’ve also had hens walk around acting partly broody for a week and then go back to being not broody.

    My test for whether a hen has really kicked over all the way broody is where she spends the night. If she spends two consecutive nights on the nest instead of roosting in her normal spot I trust her with eggs. One night is not enough. I’ve had hens quit being broody after spending just one night on the nest so it takes two consecutive nights. It normally takes me that long to collect enough eggs to put under her anyway so it’s not a problem.

    I’ve seen broody hens leave the nest once a day for about 15 minutes to eat, drink, and poop, then rush back to the nest. I’ve seen broody hens leave the nest twice a day and stay off the nest for over an hour each time, even spending some time hanging around the rest of the flock instead of being unsociable. Sometimes I never see a broody hen off the nest but I know she is coming off because she does not poop in the nest. They all had great hatches. How long they spend off the nest is often depending on the weather. The warmer it is the longer they usually stay off.

    Some broody hens welcome other hens into their nest to lay eggs. Some will not allow other hens in the nest at all. I’ve also seen hens that are not broody share a nest or refuse to allow another hen in the nest to lay an egg while they are there. I once saw a hen that was not broody grab a pullet on the nest laying an egg by the head and jerk her out of the nest so the hen could lay an egg there. That blood concerns me some but there are plenty of possible causes that are not a concern. She could have grabbed another hen but the comb or wattles and caused her to bleed. She may have eaten a mouse, lizard, or other creepy crawly that got in her nest or caught one and took it back to the nest to eat. As long as it is not consistent I’d not worry about it but it is something to watch for.

    People like to think all chickens act the same when broody but that’s not real life. Each hen is an individual and may or may not act certain ways. If she is broody, and she probably is, and you want to either give her eggs to hatch or if you want to break her and it’s your first time get back to us so we can help you.

    Good luck!


    CT, I just broke a pullet about six months old (closer to seven months) from being broody last week and put another the same age in my broody buster last night. They were not egg bound but were broody. But you are right. Being egg bound can cause a hen to spend a lot of time on the nest. It’s something I missed.
     
  4. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is exactly what I'm seeing. Also she spends nights in the nest.

    Per the previous commenter regarding egg binding, I massaged her, which she seemed to enjoy. When I put her down she went in and ate her layer feed and then came back out, at which point another hen came up and attacked her. There seems to be some kind of behavior issue going on between the 'broody' hen and the rest of the flock, or at a minimum this one aggressive hen. Do hens get jealous? The 'broody' hen is the only one who lets me pick her up. btw after the massage, meal and attack, she went back to the nest, and growled a little when I went up to pet her.

    This started happening when the weather changed from hot to more fall-like..

    btw, thanks for your great response.
     
  5. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    btw, the hen is a little over 7 months old, not 6 months (if that makes any difference).
     
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Thanks for sharing that info. It's something i do recall reading about, (hence i used the word "strange", rather than "impossible"), but it goes to show - maybe its not as uncommon as I thought and something I will bear in mind. Guess my mind went to "worst case scenario" first [​IMG]
     
  7. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don"t know if she's laid yet or not. She may have. I just know that she's not laying now. Do broody hens stop laying? (that looks like a dumb question; my guess is, yes)
     
  8. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    They do indeed stop laying - not a dumb question at all!
     
  9. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, next question. If she is indeed broody, is there anything wrong with letting her do what she wants? I don't care if there's one less egg; they're coming out of my ears as it is, and there's only so much time left before they all stop laying for winter. I'm not really keen on dealing with chicks going into winter, so no point in putting eggs under her.
     
  10. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Some folks leave broody hens to do their thing, although I think its fair to say that possibly more members prefer to break their broodiness. Type "broody buster" in the search box and you will see what to do. Whilst getting her laying again is not important to you - she will lose considerable condition whilst she is broody and this is not the best for her health. The sooner she is up and about, doing her normal thing, the better IMO.
     

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