Broody in winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Saerasx, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. Saerasx

    Saerasx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are in the pacific northwest and have our 4 pullets (born in april) 100% free ranging...we were gone for four days and had a friend come and check on them daily. anyway, she said they were just fine (which im doubting if she actually checked now)....we come home well after dark and our three ladies are were they normally roost- and thats what gave me a heart attack....just three! I grab a flashlight, tell hubby there are only three and go on a mad search for who knows what. anyway, I find our missing girl, a black australorp butted up to the house in a corner (laundry room so good heat) and not wanting to go anywhere. Could she be broody? This is my first little flock so I have NO idea what I should be doing. Im totally ok with finding her a hatching egg, but as Ive only been home a few hours Im just not sure. However they always roost in the same place, and I did find eggs in our nestbox. We have decided to let nature do its thing and not supplement with heat or lighting. She looked just fine, no cuts or any blemishes. but because she was behind a very large wild rosemary bush I didnt press in too much and probe for eggs. Any insight to what I might be dealing with? I know australorps can get broody, but I do want to make sure she's ok too.
     
  2. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She could be broody. There are some classic signs you can look for to help you decide if she is or not:-

    * Does she puff up her feathers when you go near her?

    * Try to peck you when you put her hand underneath/near her?

    * Growl or screech when you come near?

    * Rarely move from her spot to do anything - eat, drink or poop?

    * Are her poops big and stinky. Like, REALLY stinky?!

    * When she does get up to eat or drink, is she slow-moving, puffed up, grizzling and growling all the way?

    * Is she scaring way the rest of the flock, and looking like she has gone to the top of the pecking order?

    * Does she seem short-tempered and ANGRY?!

    * Does she have a collection of eggs under her?

    * Has she plucked out all the feathers on her breast?

    If she is broody, you have 2 choices. You could get her some hatching eggs or put her in a broody buster and break her of her broodiness. If you choose to give her eggs to hatch, I always recommend you give her a couple of days on plastic eggs to make sure she is serious first.

    Either way, right now she is at risk. She probably shouldn't sit out in the open, unprotected from predators through the night. Someone is going to have to put on some long gloves and a thick dressing gown and brave her!

    You will have to fence her off from predators so she is safe where she is, or she needs to be moved somewhere safe, a separate pen in the main coop would be ideal. Then tomorrow when it's light you can thoroughly assess her and determine if it's broodiness or illness that is the issue, and proceed from there. The very act of moving her back to the coop might break her broodiness alone though.

    Good luck!

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Has this hen ever shown tendency to go broody before? Even my most stubborn Buff Orp broody hen never went broody in the dead of winter. It's certainly not impossible of course but I'd be suspicious. Krista74 gave good advice, put her someplace safe for tonight and see how she is in the morning.
     
  4. Saerasx

    Saerasx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thank you for the quick replies!

    She has never shown to be broody before, however she has been the one to consistently give me an egg every day, the others have stopped. So by that "math" she hasnt been broody long ( if she is), maybe two days at most. She is very safe where she is (smart girl), however I will go out tomorrow when hubby takes baby to go pick up our dogs from the doggie hotel. I am definitely not opposed to her hatching out some eggs, in fact I would love it! But I dont want to take a chance when perhaps she's just giving me the I cant believe you left us look :p Im definitely taking that check list out with me tomorrow! She never struck me as a mean mama, but I suppose now I will find out!
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    Hormones can have a strange effect on normally nice hens! I had some that when they went broody turned into little demons who would just about take my arm off. The good news is that they are often fantastic Mommas when they are like that - they will protect their chicks to the ends of the Earth.

    I have had other hens which have gone all sooky on me when broody. They bluff you with all their puffy feathers and screeching, and then melt when you pat them and talk baby-talk to them! Once I found one girl sitting on her imaginary eggs, rocking and singing to herself! She was very content in what she was doing.

    You are right though - she might just be cranky at you for walking out on her! A change in routine can mess with their little heads to no end. Exciting times! I wish you well, no matter which way it goes.

    - Krista
     
  6. Saerasx

    Saerasx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    gave the ladies a good night check in....no hissing, but since we knew right where she was we could be quick...but no movement, no attempt to get with her three "sisters", so it'll be interesting to see where shes at tomorow
     

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