Broody Silkie Girl Going Strong For Over 3 Weeks And We Are Starting To Worry...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by VyInRI, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. VyInRI

    VyInRI Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2014
    I have a super broody Silkie girl. She's been in confinement, in my garage, in a wire rabbit cage, for well over 3 weeks now. She has fresh water and food every day, but she will not break. Yesterday, she stopped eating and drinking. She had pellet feed, but I've since added crumbles, and she won't touch anything. She has never been on the defensive as a broody with us - she lets me pet her, she lets us pick her up, and she doesn't peck or yell, but she is being hugely stubborn. Any ideas on how I can get her to start eating again? She's shown no interest in any of the treats she loves when she isn't broody, and I do not want to lose her to starvation or dehydration. Please help. I'm desperate.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    Silkies are known for being broody. Why are you confining her? is she sitting on eggs? I would remove her and exercise her outside of her nest. She may develop an appetite. BEST WISHES
     
  3. VyInRI

    VyInRI Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2014
    She is not sitting on eggs. And she's in the garage because when she's in the run, she just sits, and the other girls pick on her a bit - normally, she doesn't let this happen because she's the alpha hen. But when she's broody, she lets them walk all over her. She will sit as long as I'm outside with them, and as soon as I leave the run, she hightails it back to the coop. I can't close the coop entirely because the girls do need access to the shelter, giving that we are getting lots of wind and snow and rains, plus, the other girls are all laying, so I hate to block off their access to the nesting boxes. I just don't know what to do. She is being so difficult. I just want my sweet girl back, not this stubborn broody thing that I don't recognize.
     
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have heard that sometimes the only thing that will work for super broody hens is to let them raise a batch of chicks. Meaning, let her sit on a clutch of fertile eggs and raise them.

    We have silkies and they do go broody often, but they've always come out of it. Lots of picking them up from their nest and getting them to move. They usually just get back into the nest box, but will drink or eat a little before they do.

    Also know that hens have fat stores meant for use during broodiness. I don't know how long they can go without eating, but I think 3 weeks isn't something to worry about.
     
  5. VyInRI

    VyInRI Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2014
    I can't led her sit on eggs - I have no rooster, no brooder, and no room for more chickens.

    I've also read that broodies are fiercely protective - this girl isn't. She lets us handle her, she doesn't peck or yell (in fact, she's been nearly silent since she went broody - I miss her voice!), and she generally just hangs out. Is it possible that something else is going on? The poop that's under her cage doesn't look any different than normal chicken poop, and I thought broody poop was supposed to be larger and even yuckier. I'm going to put her in the yard for a bit later this afternoon so I can clean the cage out and see if she keeps pooping, because it's getting hard to tell, but her food does look untouched. I'm wondering if she needs to be in a rabbit hutch outside in the yard - one of the ones that's up on high legs, with a wire bottom, to get more air circulating underneath her.

    I've emailed a local clinic that claims to have a bird vet, as well as the people I bought her from, as I remember them saying she is a tough broody to break, but I'm actually losing sleep over it a this point because I really hate the thought of losing this sweet girl.

    Any thoughts? Am I being a crazy, over worried chicken mama?
     
  6. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    I've had one of my hens sit on an empty nest for a long as five weeks. I left her alone except to make sure food and water is nearby, and the hen was not being battered by the others in the coop. She would eat and drink once a day and since her body went into a sort of metabolic dormant state, she didn't lose too much weight. I know your hen's broodiness is frustrating but you have to sit it out (pardon the pun) and allow the super broody to continue through the process. Most of my hens, however, at three weeks seem snap out of it although I've had a few act like they hatched chicks and would flare and cluck dramatically as she moved about.

    Be patient...nature will do her thing.
     
  7. VyInRI

    VyInRI Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2014
    Well, that's a little reassuring. I did call a local bird vet and I am going to bring her in later today just to make sure her crop isn't impacted and there's not anything else going on, because I am still new to this whole chicken thing (I've only had birds since August). When I moved her from the wire cage to the carrier, I noticed that one of her talons looks wrong, so I'm gonna have the vet look at that too. I did notice cleaning out her cage that there were two teeny tiny little stools that looked like they might possibly be fresh, but I couldn't really tell. I'm probably being overly worried, but she's the "big girl" in the family and truth be told, when she's being herself, she's definitely one of the favorites. I took her out into the yard, and she just sits - even if I pet her or pick her up or try to get her to react to me, she just kinda falls over…and her weight has gone down significantly, although she's doing a good job of keeping her feathers fluffed out to look chunky. It's all just definitely not her personality at all.
     
  8. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's the problem with "I've read about..." is that it was usually that person's experience and may not apply to you! So with that disclaimer...

    My experience with our broody silkies, especially the alpha one, is they haven't been aggressive/protective when broody. Everything you describe...being able to be picked up, quiet, etc, has been very similar to our own experience. I've read about very protective broody hens, but out of the 50+ chickens we've raised so far, haven't experienced that yet.

    It's normal to worry about these things...you're learning to discover what's normal and what isn't. People on BYC can help guide you, but your best learning will come from your personal experience.

    We've tried things to get them (especially said silkie alpha above) to stop being broody. We haven't tried the broody breaking box, which sounds like what you're trying. We've picked them up, tapped them on the bum to get them walking to snap them out of the "zone" and sometimes it works, sometimes not. Repeating this again and again. Clapping hands, loud noises to try to shock them out of it. Lock them out of the coop for the day. I don't know if any of it really works or not, but eventually they do come out of the broodiness, sometimes quickly, sometimes not.

    Three weeks really isn't that long for them to be broody. That's how long it would be if they were hatching a clutch (21 days) and likely they were broody before they sat on the eggs. We had one that was broody for over a month last year.

    Most important is she is drinking water. If she is still alive after 3 weeks, then obviously she is drinking water. If she isn't eating any food, she has fat stores for that, but it sounds like you're not sure if she is or isn't eating. I doubt she isn't eating at all, but she might not be eating as much as you think she should. Broody hens just don't eat much. But once they come out of it, they usually will eat like normal again or even eat a little more than normal.

    Since you're so worried, it's probably a good idea to take her to a vet. Hopefully they will put your heart and mind at ease. Would you let us know what the vet says?
     
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  9. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    What do you have in the cage with her? If you have nesting materials in with her she will continue to try to brood.
     
  10. VyInRI

    VyInRI Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2014
    I just got home from the vet.
    She was in a wire cage, with no nesting materials.

    Unfortunately, the outlook is not a good one. She's very thin and incredibly weak and dehydrated. The vet seems to think it's either a reproductive issue or parasitic, but her stools all looked normal to me, and I kept an eye on them. They gave her vitamins, wormer, and some fluid, and gave me the option to hospitalize her or bring her home. Unfortunately, I just couldn't spend the 100+ dollars per day to have the medical staff look after her, so we are going to do the best we can at home. They gave me a plastic syringe to feed her, to see if we can help her regain her strength. Per the vet's advice, she's nestled up in a cat carrier with some shavings in the basement, where it's warm.

    I'm pretty devastated. I love this sweet girl and it's pretty apparent that the outlook is grim. It's amazing how attached a girl can get to a hen. Prayers would be appreciated. <3
     

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