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Broody in the Winter?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bluegiantsc, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chirping

    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    I am pretty sure my hen is broody. I'll be honest, I'm not great at collecting eggs in the winter and it rained for like 4 days in a row, then sleeted. So i didn't get eggs.

    Anyway, she's laying on a few i think and I'm not sure what to do because its winter. Should i take the eggs out? Put a heat lamp in her house? Make sure they have extra bedding?

    If its cold outside, will she be able to keep the eggs warm enough? They live in a dog house type house, that has a ramp door. Its pretty draft resistantwith the door shut but i have to let them out during the day.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Do you mind letting her hatching out eggs? Hens can hatch eggs and raise chicks over winter, though it's not ideal. Some extra bedding in the coop and extra heat would be nice, but unless it's absolutely freezing I think she'll be fine without a heat lamp. What you can do for her is put her somewhere with the heat lamp once the chicks have hatched.
  3. Our hen just hatched out 8 chicks... and we are in Pennsylvania and the average temp was 20 degrees most of the 3 wks she was sitting on them... and her final week the temps dropped to 0-5 degrees. We put a ceramic heat bulb in her pen over her waterer to make sure it didn't freeze, and we let her decide when she wanted to get up for food or dust bathing the last week because of the cold.
    We also added fresh straw around her to increase the depth of her nest.

    She did fine, the chicks hatched on Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon she had them out of the nest and was teaching them how to drink and scratch for food.

    To give your hen the best chance at a good hatch you can gather fertile eggs for a day or two and keep them somewhere cool (around 55 degrees or so) and store them with pointy end down. After you get 8 or 10 (usually 8 max for a banty size hen, up to 12-15 for a larger hen) then you can let them warm to 'room temp' for a couple of hours, then swap them with the ones she is sitting on. After you swap them you can mark your date and figure 21 days (give or take) till chicks. If other hens can access the nest then make sure you mark the eggs she is supposed to be sitting on and check the nest each day or so for extras laid by other hens, remove the extras.

    By controlling when she starts officially 'sitting' you will be increasing the chances that her eggs hatch all in the same day or two span. You don't want multiple days between eggs hatching because then the hen has to decide to either abandon late eggs still in the nest to take care of her new chicks, or not take the new chicks out for food and water because she is worried about staying on the unhatched eggs. That's just not a good situation either way.

    There is a ton of great reading/info on a couple of other threads here... on is Old fashioned broody hen and I think the other is just 'broody hen'... I'll try to find the links and add them shortly.
    Have fun, a broody is great!

    Found them...
    Broody Hen Thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/496101/broody-hen-thread

    Old Fashioned Broody Hen https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ody-hen-hatch-a-long-and-informational-thread
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  4. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chirping

    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    I think there are like 10 eggs in there and they should all be fertile, since its just the hen and the rooster. I'll add some extra hay to her nest to help insulate her and the eggs. She just finished a molt a few months ago, so her feathers are very full and she's kept a good weight this winter.

    If she does hatch out the eggs, I'll put a heat lamp out there for them. But I'll just let her be for the duration of the brood.

    I live in SC so while its cold, its definitely not freezing. The lows at night are like 20 at the lowest usually. Its normally in the 50s or more during the day. I think she'll be fine. And as long as the chicks have heat, they'll be fine too.

    Thanks guys! I love chicks, i hope they hatch and make it!
  5. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chirping

    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    I counted today and she has 15 eggs under her. The other day, I put a flake of hay in the house and put like half of it on her. She has made a nice nest, with high sides of pine bedding and hay and her feathers. So I think she's staying warm enough and keeping the eggs warm enough.

    What do I need to do when they hatch?
    -Do I just turn on a light in the house for them to lay under, regular light bulb or the purple/red one thats supposed to be hotter?
    -I have manna pro medicated chick starter, is that good?
    -They live in a chain link dog kennel, I'm going to but chicken wire or hardware cloth around the bottom few feet of the kennel, will that be alright as long as they can't get between it?
    -They have a ramp to get into the house, its only like 5 inches high and its at like a 5 degree slope, so not drastic. Will they be able to go up and down the ramp okay? Will the hen be able to help them?
    -Should I let the hen raise them, or should I bring them in the house in a pen with a light and food and water? I would only bring them in if its too cold, but I don't want to take them away if I don't need to.

    Do you guys who have winter hatches let the mamas raise them or do you bring them in?

    I've never had chicks before. She laid on 7 last summer, 5 got taken by a snake, one didn't hatch and the one that did, it didn't make it. So I didn't have to do all the preparation that I'm going to have to do with this batch of chicks.
    Will she go broody again in the summer time? Is she just going to be a constantly broody hen? hahah. I thought jersey giants weren't supposed to be super broody because of their size. I would love it if she went broody all the time!

    Sorry for all the questions, I'm just newish to the broody part of chickens and I'm a little worried because of the weather.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  7. Johnn

    Johnn Crowing

    Sep 5, 2011
    You should ask Bobbiechicks, her hen hatched out in the winter and also Stonykill knows ALOT to so they will be able to answer it all.

  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Very soon I will be allowing some of my hens to set clutches which should be similar to your current SC conditions. Only concern I have is temperature not drop below about 27 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a couple of hours. If that criterion met, then hatch should be good. Bigger concern will be quality of forage, especially if number of hatched is high. TO compensate I simply have some quality chick starter handy to supplement forage.
  9. chicken farmer

    chicken farmer Songster

    Feb 7, 2012
    Will you guys check out my thread ''My silkie hen went broody in winter'' I would appreciate advice
  10. kansas3

    kansas3 In the Brooder

    Aug 30, 2013
    My 6 month old silkies deceided to go broody in December.she now sits on 7 eggs in a pen in my closed in garage.I was afraid to leave her outside,some nights the temp goes down to 18,This will be first hatch. 21 days will be on the 22, all looks good so far.:)

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