Broody in winter

Hipshot

Songster
5 Years
May 24, 2014
30
59
109
Illinois
I have 8 females and two males that are all 7 months old. I wasn’t expecting it this soon but one of the hens has gone broody. I would like to grow the flock but if I let her stay in the nest in the coop the chicks would hatch around thanksgiving. It can get extremely cold here. Am I right in assuming that th hassles and risks of winter babies is not worth it? Is it enough if I just keep collecting all the eggs every day even the ones under her?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,612
24,654
927
Southeast Louisiana
Some people do let a broody hatch and raise chicks in the winter. You might occasionally see a broody hen with her chicks on the snow. They can be successful.

But I'd suggest you wait for different reasons. I don't know how long yours have been laying but the eggs are probably still pretty small. You can successfully hatch pullet eggs, I do regularly, but I find my hatch rate is not quite as good as with larger eggs. I hardly ever lose a chick that hatches but it does happen. Usually when I do it is a chick that hatched from a pullet egg. I don't think the chicks from the smaller eggs are quit as hardy as chicks from pullets or hens that have been laying longer.

Also, in the winter cold something that might just be an inconvenience in warm weather can be fatal. If a chick gets separated from the hen and cannot get back to her to get warm it is in serious trouble. In warmer weather that is usually not a big deal, it can handle it. It's harder to keep water from freezing. It is just harder on you and the hen in really cold winters. You don't need a winter hatch to be your first experience.

I suggest you break her from being broody, odds are she will go broody again next year. I find the best way to break her is to put her in an elevated cage with a wire bottom for 72 hours. Give her food and water but nothing that looks like a nest. Usually 72 hours is enough to break them but if she goes back to the nest do it again.

Good luck!
 

Hipshot

Songster
5 Years
May 24, 2014
30
59
109
Illinois
Some people do let a broody hatch and raise chicks in the winter. You might occasionally see a broody hen with her chicks on the snow. They can be successful.

But I'd suggest you wait for different reasons. I don't know how long yours have been laying but the eggs are probably still pretty small. You can successfully hatch pullet eggs, I do regularly, but I find my hatch rate is not quite as good as with larger eggs. I hardly ever lose a chick that hatches but it does happen. Usually when I do it is a chick that hatched from a pullet egg. I don't think the chicks from the smaller eggs are quit as hardy as chicks from pullets or hens that have been laying longer.

Also, in the winter cold something that might just be an inconvenience in warm weather can be fatal. If a chick gets separated from the hen and cannot get back to her to get warm it is in serious trouble. In warmer weather that is usually not a big deal, it can handle it. It's harder to keep water from freezing. It is just harder on you and the hen in really cold winters. You don't need a winter hatch to be your first experience.

I suggest you break her from being broody, odds are she will go broody again next year. I find the best way to break her is to put her in an elevated cage with a wire bottom for 72 hours. Give her food and water but nothing that looks like a nest. Usually 72 hours is enough to break them but if she goes back to the nest do it again.

Good luck!
Thank You! That is very helpful.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
6 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,637
20,583
892
California's Redwood Coast
At seven months old... I won't let a bird sit... they are still growing and maturing both physically and mentally... and during broody sitting their digestion and metabolism are way slowed down.. Best way to benefit my flock is giving everyone the best start possible. IF I do let a young broody sit... it won't be for the whole 3 weeks to hatch and usually includes an early on adoption. :)

Collecting eggs will NOT be enough in most instances. Some broody's will sit on air for the entire time with no regard for themselves or anything else and STILL need to be broken after sitting there losing condition... they are more susceptible to parasites and such as well.

I also employ wire bottom, elevated kennels... but have discovered zero difference in time spent broody between those and the ones I break in a grass, open bottom pen.. with no bedding... which I resorted to after one large fowl hen had been in the wire bottom breaker for 10 days and I was almost broken! 72 hours is plenty for most birds... but all are individuals. Ones broken in open bottom pens do go in the wire kennels at night.

Ridgerunner always has wise input. :highfive:

I agree she WILL be broody again, and I would plan ahead for when it's convenient for me... come spring or whenever. Girls who go broody very young are often EXCESSIVELY broody in my experience. :he

Keep in mind it reduces the amount of mating females and your ratio is already close. It also occupies the box other may want to lay in... which leads me to in case you didn't know... save ALL the eggs you want to set and set them at the same time to avoid staggered hatching. AND be sure to mark clearly (not pencil) the eggs you do set so the nest can be checked every evening and have any new deposits removed... again to avoid staggered hatch and give the best chance possible to the ones you started with.

A sitting hen equals about 8 weeks or more on average of NO eggs from that hen. And some of my gals go broody literally EVERY 3rd egg they lay... EVEN if they just finished raising a clutch.

Some people do fine with winter hatching... even in cold climates. And Thanksgiving babies WOULD be awesome! :love But as a first encounter... likely wouldn't be my personal choice. I will also make a quick note about having chicks in your flock effecting what feed you should use... Since I ALWAYS have broody's and chicks, and roosters... I stick with 20% protein flock raiser and oyster shell on the side for active layer. I NEVER switch to layer as it doesn't have enough protein for growing chicks and too much calcium for anyone not laying. A starter feed might also be OK. Broody's rock, but they certainly are NOT responsibility free for the keeper. When they first bring them out I always have to spend the first week or so making sure I am home to help teach them go up the ramp in my coops that require it to get inside. Though mums will usually sit at the bottom, I have found when enough can make it up, others are left behind still. All set up are different and so are all hens... and their chicks.

Congrats on your first broody, and the prospects it brings! :wee
 

Hipshot

Songster
5 Years
May 24, 2014
30
59
109
Illinois
At seven months old... I won't let a bird sit... they are still growing and maturing both physically and mentally... and during broody sitting their digestion and metabolism are way slowed down.. Best way to benefit my flock is giving everyone the best start possible. IF I do let a young broody sit... it won't be for the whole 3 weeks to hatch and usually includes an early on adoption. :)

Collecting eggs will NOT be enough in most instances. Some broody's will sit on air for the entire time with no regard for themselves or anything else and STILL need to be broken after sitting there losing condition... they are more susceptible to parasites and such as well.

I also employ wire bottom, elevated kennels... but have discovered zero difference in time spent broody between those and the ones I break in a grass, open bottom pen.. with no bedding... which I resorted to after one large fowl hen had been in the wire bottom breaker for 10 days and I was almost broken! 72 hours is plenty for most birds... but all are individuals. Ones broken in open bottom pens do go in the wire kennels at night.

Ridgerunner always has wise input. :highfive:

I agree she WILL be broody again, and I would plan ahead for when it's convenient for me... come spring or whenever. Girls who go broody very young are often EXCESSIVELY broody in my experience. :he

Keep in mind it reduces the amount of mating females and your ratio is already close. It also occupies the box other may want to lay in... which leads me to in case you didn't know... save ALL the eggs you want to set and set them at the same time to avoid staggered hatching. AND be sure to mark clearly (not pencil) the eggs you do set so the nest can be checked every evening and have any new deposits removed... again to avoid staggered hatch and give the best chance possible to the ones you started with.

A sitting hen equals about 8 weeks or more on average of NO eggs from that hen. And some of my gals go broody literally EVERY 3rd egg they lay... EVEN if they just finished raising a clutch.

Some people do fine with winter hatching... even in cold climates. And Thanksgiving babies WOULD be awesome! :love But as a first encounter... likely wouldn't be my personal choice. I will also make a quick note about having chicks in your flock effecting what feed you should use... Since I ALWAYS have broody's and chicks, and roosters... I stick with 20% protein flock raiser and oyster shell on the side for active layer. I NEVER switch to layer as it doesn't have enough protein for growing chicks and too much calcium for anyone not laying. A starter feed might also be OK. Broody's rock, but they certainly are NOT responsibility free for the keeper. When they first bring them out I always have to spend the first week or so making sure I am home to help teach them go up the ramp in my coops that require it to get inside. Though mums will usually sit at the bottom, I have found when enough can make it up, others are left behind still. All set up are different and so are all hens... and their chicks.

Congrats on your first broody, and the prospects it brings! :wee
Thank You! That puts it all in perspective.
 

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