Broody -just want to know: will she starve?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by myback40, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. myback40

    myback40 Out Of The Brooder

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    Background: My broody Buff Orp. has been glued to the nest for over a month. Might be close to 2 months even. She is very young (April 2015) and was sickly in the first couple of days after hatching. (We fed her with a dropper.) Not sure that matters, but might be relevant. So every day, I scoop her out of the nest a couple of times a day and put her in front of their pop door. She goes out, eats, and comes back. The other 8 hens don't pay her much attention but she gets all puffed up when any other hen comes near. We have a very large run (chicken moat around a large garden) and ample nest boxes (4 for 9 hens).

    I just want to know if I'm handling this correctly. Am I right to pull her out twice a day? If I didn't do it, would she starve or come out on her own?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    She would come out on her own.

    Broody hens are pretty quick about doing their business. Sometimes it's only 10-15 minutes a day they're off that nest. Eat, drink, take a big poop, a quick dust bath and they're back as if they never left. it freaks folks out, cause they never see them off the nest.

    If she's pooping in the nest, I'd bump her out. If not, she's getting off on her own to take care of business.

    you say she's been setting for up to 2 months. I'm guessing she has no eggs? In that case, I'd go ahead and break her. Being broody is hard on their bodies, and I don't see the point in letting them go through that stress for no benefit (chicks) in the end. Put her in a wire bottom cage and hang it off the ground so she has air circulation under her. Food and water but no nesting/bedding materials, only the cage bottom. 3-5 days there should break her hormonal cycle and she'll get back to normal.
     
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  3. myback40

    myback40 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it. True, she is not laying eggs. I'm not sure I follow the cage suggestion logistics completely. I don't own such a cage, so I'd have to go get one. From where and how big? And is that cage hanging inside the coop or out in the run? Hang it how? Move it in and out for morning/night? And how would I know when to let her out? I'll be quite honest with you… The whole thing makes me want to go have a nap. I do hate to see her go on this way. Will she break out of it on her own ever? Maybe I should rehome her to someone who has time to take care of this.
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    A dog crate/cage works well. Cages are better for getting as much air and sunlight to the bird. I just put the cage on the ground in the run and leave it there for two to three days. No bedding material is the key. Put food and water in with her and that's it. Not hard to do at all and she will break from being broody is kept away from bedding material and in sunlight for 2 to 3 days. You can also dunk her bottom in water, the idea of no bedding and water dunk is to cool her bottom off to break her. Sunlight is essential too and any confinement that accomplishes this will do, don't let her back into coop where she'll nest though that would be a step back in the process.

    The other way to break her is to find some less than week old chicks and slip them under her at night when she's sleeping. She'll awake and take the role of mother, raise the chicks to what ever age she chooses then go back to laying.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.

    Water nipple bottle added after pic taken.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You've gotten good input from the above posters. You're way overthinking the cage issue, it's not complicated.

    cooling the underside of a broody hen helps decrease the production of the hormones that make her broody. Having her in a wire bottom cage that's elevated off the ground accomplishes this. no bedding or nesting materials is the key. The cage needs to be large enough for her to move around a little but is doesn't have to be huge. If she's getting that active she needs more space, she can come out. The cage can be hung or elevated as aart shows. Wherever works for you, there's no "right" place to put her. You don't need to move her anywhere, she can stay wherever you want her 24 hours a day as long as you use common sense as to shelter. Have food and water in the cage. You can let her out once a day as aart describes, or leave her in the cage. Again, no "right" way to do this, you're just keeping her out of the nest and cooling her underside. 3-5 days is the usual time span it takes to reset those hormones.

    Or, we could find a ride chain for her down I-5 to me [​IMG]. I happily take broody hens and let them raise babies to their hearts' content!
     
  7. myback40

    myback40 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the ideas. I'm not sure what I'll do at this point, since an acquaintance nearby might want her for raising chicks.

    So in the meantime... she won't starve if I don't keep hauling her out of there. That's good. But I just have to ask... if nothing is done, do they eventually snap out of it on their own?

    Thanks again!
     
  8. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eventually, she'll snap out of it, but it could be months.
     
  9. DanEP

    DanEP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could not only take a long time it's hard on her health.If you don't have a cage dunk her butt in a bucket of water a couple of times a day and block off the nest boxes at night so she can't sleep there. what your trying to do is lower her body temp which will cause a hormone change back to normal.
     
  10. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    Wrote this big long reply and my ipad went flat before I posted argh!

    In a nutshell. Pick her up and feel her breast bone, then feel one of your other chickens. If hers is very pronounced with no "meat" either side of it you need to break her. You could also weigh her and weigh a similar sized one and see how much weight she has lost. After 2 months my birds health would take precedence over your friends chicks. The more underweight she becomes the more susceptible to disease and laying problems she will become.

    If you don't plan to hatch or your friends chicks are weeks away you need to break her. I have a silkie will have been sitting 5 1/2 weeks by the time her shipped eggs hatch. If they don't hatch there is no way I would leave her broody while I try another lot. Nature designed them to survive on very little for 3 weeks till their eggs hatch, not for months.

    Breaking them doesn't have to be hard but there is one VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember. If they can get to the nest box then they won't get broken. If they can sleep in the nest box it won't work. They need to be kept off 24HOUR PER DAY/NIGHT. Will take 3-7 days of that to break her.

    Our Normal broody pen has my silkie in it so this is my current broody breaker pen in our regular pen. A few tomato stakes and some plastic wire. Doesn't have to be fancy, just has to keep her away from the nest box till you cover it for the night (because you can't let her sleep in it) and let her back in to roost.
    [​IMG]

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015

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