Broody troubles- Need advice on how to have successfull broody hatches

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by capayvalleychick, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    I want to have a flock where broody hens raise the chicks, so that I don't have to use an incubator.

    With my first flock of chickens- a combination of hatchery birds and feral hens gathered from this rural region's treetops at night- I had broody hens hatching out huge numbers of chicks. I never had to help in any way.

    Now, I have Dorkings & Delawares. I want to have lots of chicks and I'm having lots of problems.

    I'd like to have chicks starting in early Spring. They don't start going broody until mid to late summer. We have extremely hot summers here.

    Only a few hens go broody, only some of the Dorking hens, and these hens are the ones that I'd like to cull for poor type & defects. I have tried gathering eggs from the desirable hens and putting them under the broody hen. The broody hen will toss out or eat many of the eggs. I think she lays more of her own to sit on.

    They will never set on eggs in the nest boxes in the coop, where I want them. One hen went broody among the straw bales, covered by a tarp, outside where it would not have been safe from predators. When I moved her and her eggs, she quit setting and has not gone broody again this year.
    Another hen made a nest in our storage barn. I left her there. Other hens were going in to her nest and laying more eggs. I covered her with a cage. One chick hatched. I waited 2 days, then took off the cage. She left the nest.

    I had two other broody hens who tried setting in nest boxes. The other hens kept going in to lay more eggs. The eggs got dirty. Both of these hens hatched out single chicks. One chick was killed, I think by other hens. I've never had this happen before.

    I took the hen whose chick was killed and put her in a large dog crate with another batch of eggs. She's been sitting on those, has not kicked any out or eaten any. The problem with this is that she has to poop in the crate and that's piling up. Those eggs are due to hatch in 8 more days.

    Last month, I tried to convince some of the nicer Dorking hens to go broody. I made a semi secluded nest on the floor of their coop. I put a dozen eggs in the nest and waited. Some pullets added their eggs. A hen started setting on these eggs, 24 days ago. The eggs are dirty and are starting to smell. I've taken 4 eggs out to see what was inside. 3 were green. 1 had an almost full term chick inside. This hen is so determined, I hate to pull her off the nest. There's no chance any of these eggs are good, is there?
    I don't think that it would be healthy for her, for me to try to give her more eggs in another nest.

    It would be ideal for me to have broody coops that are larger than a dog crate, but I don't have those, yet. What can I do, in the mean time, to have successful broody hatches?

  2. chiqita

    chiqita Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 29, 2011
    San Jose, Ca
    I only have one years experience with broodies, but I have a lot of them! I found the first time they sit on eggs, they do a crappy job. I found it easier to incubate eggs and give them chicks letting them sit on eggs I didn't care so much about. It seemed like the second time they went broody they were much better sitters. Mind you I had silkies that were abandoned by their owner because all they wanted to do was lay one egg and sit, and she thought having chickens meant having breakfast, lol. I picked them up just because they were broody. The other ones are Marans that came from a broody line, but had also never raised chicks.

    I've had one girl go in an inappropriate area. I had to move her and her eggs every night back tot he coop, and then back to her preferred site in the morning. She was a PITA. I just cheated and gave her chicks after about a week and put the eggs in the incubator, so I'm no help there.

    My biggest surprise has been if one hen starts to sit on eggs, another hen will start to sit with her. the way I have succeeded in moving thee hens is putting them in a dog crate at night with LOTS of straw, and putting it in the garage with little to no light the first few days. I only did this when hen one was about to have her chicks. Before that it seemed like the 2 hens were better at covering eggs then just one. If they are in a tight area I do take them out to poop, broody poop is big and nasty and seems to be attractive to ants.

    I'm wondering if the heat is part of your problem, are the eggs all getting overheated and the hens are rejecting them because they are dead? I have heard that they will do that, and more heat will break them of being broody. When you had chickens before were they in the same heat?

    We are in San Jose, so that part I cant help you with, except maybe move the broodies somewhere there is more temp control.

    My own reason for broodies was more for them to raise the chicks then to hatch them. SO I don't mind doing the bator part myself as long as they are taking care of the babies. I found giving them babies easy, and especially the silkies will take more chicks almost forever. in fact one hen tries to steal chicks regularly, my problem with her is she is too small for all her chicks!

    I DO move the hens with chicks away from the rest of the flock for sleeping for the first few weeks. we have 3 broody coops in the run area and they like those. It seems to help with chicks death from accidental pecks or being stepped on etc.

    That's all I can think of to help, sorry its not very applicable.
  3. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    Thanks for answering. I tried giving chicks to a broody once and she did not accept them. Sounds like it works for you, though!

    The previous hens had the same heat and were able to deal with it. I've noticed that the hens will get off the eggs in the hottest part of the day.

    I had multiple hens on nests last year and that did not do well for hatching either.

    I know that I need more coops, that would solve all kinds of problems. Not everyone has separate coops for broodies, though, and they still get chicks.
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    I purposely got a variety of breeds so I could have some broodies. All the breeds I didn't expect to go broody have gone broody this year - a 3 1/2 year old hatchery production red who has never been broody before, 2 welsummers (not a broody breed) and a BR now on her 2nd round of babies this year. I have had 8 broodies so far this year, ranging from spring to just hatched a couple days ago.

    The downside of having broodies is you cannot control when they go broody. They don't just do it when it's convenient for you. I had to hold a couple girls off for a couple weeks so they wouldn't hatch while we were gone. My production red has been broody over 2 months now because she kept switching nests - her first batch didn't hatch because of this, then she started sticking to 1 nest, so I set eggs under her again and they hatched 2 days ago. I've slipped chicks under a broody this year as well, when her hatch didn't work out.

    I did have a fight over a nestbox in my welsummer coop this year, and I lost a chick from that. My larger coop is more accustomed to having babies, though I do prefer to have them in separate quarters for about a week. Then I let them out with the flock and I haven't had any issues. When I built the coop, I made a section that I could block off for broodies. So that's where I put the moms/babies after they hatch. It works quite well, until I got 3 broodies at the same time. So I had to divide that section in half and my production red is raising her babies with the flock. Nobody will mess with her, as she's top hen. I had to move my BR because the production red was trying to steal her chicks too.

    If you really want broodies, get a variety of hens from breeds that are known to go broody - cochins, silkies, Orps, etc. A good broody breed will make your life a lot easier.
  5. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    I have a variety of hens that are broody.

    Black Australorp (who is currently raising 15 guinea keets); she goes broody twice a year.
    Millie Fleur d'Uccle (who is currently raising 8 silkies); she goes broody twice a year.
    (2) mixed Polish/Silkie hens (currently raising 4 guinea keets); they go broody twice a year.
    (4) Silkie hens (currently sitting on eggs and have no interest in raising the chicks - so I have to brood the chicks separately)
    I have a 2-yr-old Silkie hen who goes broody 2x/year and is currently raising 4 guinea keets.
    I also have a Barred Rock hen who recently raised 2 guineas and an EE chick. The guineas (4 months old now) still follow her everywhere.

    I enjoy having the broody hens help me out with the incubation/brooding; however, I do still have to keep a brooder on stand-by
    for those times when the hen does not want to raise the chicks and no other mom will accept the orphans.
  6. capayvalleychick

    capayvalleychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2010
    Guinda CA
    When I get more pens built, I'll have a good place to put the broodies. For now, I either leave them were they decide to sit or move them to a dog crate and hope they don't quit.

    I have tried using other breeds as surrogates. I really don't want to do that again because I don't want to risk having crossbred chicks. And they kick out or eat the eggs that I give them to hatch their own. Dorkings as a breed should go broody and some of mine do, so I want to use these.

    You both sound like you have great results with broody hens. What am I doing wrong?

    The hen that had been sitting for 25+ days got off her nest. Most of the eggs were green/rotten inside. 5 looked like normal chicks that were almost full term. Not sure what happened.

    My other broody in the dog crate's eggs look dirty. I'm wondering if the eggs are getting contaminated?
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I love my hatchery birds for the egg production but they don't consistently brood. I have a smaller seperate pen with 4 bantam cochin hens who are my broodies. I had a roo in there but he decided he was dominant to me so he's gone. Currently have the 4 hens and one just hatched out 3 chicks from my big girl flock. 2 hens each hatched out 2 chicks earlier this year. This appears to be what will work best for me. I can leave the broody in with her normal flock mates. The other bantams might lay in her box, but I can easily tell the difference between their egg and the ones I want to be incubated by size and color. She raises her chicks in with a flock so they learn about keeping out of the older girls' way. I pull them out at about 2 months and put them in a grow out pen for about 2 more months, just cause there's not that much room in the bantam pen. Then, in with the big girls at around 4 months.

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