Broody vs Egg Bound- How do you know?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by VHoff, Jan 22, 2018.

  1. VHoff

    VHoff Chirping

    20
    65
    89
    Jan 1, 2018
    Western Massachusetts
    Hello everyone-

    I'm a newbie to chicken rearing and need some advice: how do you tell the difference between a broody hen and an egg bound hen?

    I have four pullets, three of whom have just started laying in the last couple weeks, and a boss hen who was the first to lay and has produced an egg daily for over a month now. The Boss has been in her nest for a good 18 hours as of this writing- she was out of her nest briefly yesterday and looked fine (no "penguin walk") and ate some with the rest of the crew in the run, but she hadn't produced her daily egg. The other hens had all laid in the other nest. It might help to know that four days ago there were four eggs (all hens laying) but one of them was full sized, meaning it was close to twice their usual size, and I suspect it was hers because she’s been laying the longest. I’m fearing that she’s trying to pass another large egg and it isn’t going well, but it's might also be that she's just feeling broody. In case it helps, my chickens are a Marans/Dominique mix and are under a year old, and all appear to be healthy and happy with no real conflict in the coop.

    My chickens aren't comfortable with physical contact yet and I'd hate to traumatize her with handling if I don't need to- are there any clues I can interpret to see if a more aggressive intervention is required?

    Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

    Thank you!
     
  2. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

    5,725
    31,304
    1,022
    Jan 1, 2017
    Coastal NC
    My Coop
    All chickens will require handling at some point in their lives. It's best to work to get them used to it sooner rather than later, in my opinion.

    Some broody symptoms:
    Approach her on the nest.
    Does she appear to go flat? (called pancaking)

    If you reach out to touch her will she attempt to nip at your hand?
    Does she make a growling sound?

    Next, place a hand firmly on either of her sides (wings held down) Remove her unceremoniously from the nest.
    Is she fussing at you?
    While you have her in your hands tilt her over and
    look at her tummy and breast areas.
    Is she bald, or nearly so under there?

    Now toss her gently to the ground.

    If there are other Hens in close proximity to her,
    Does she fluff up like a turkey and fan out her tail feathers?

    Make a beeline back to the coop?

    Make a constant clucking sound?

    If you answer yes to more than 1 or 2 of these questions I'd strongly suspect broody behavior.
     
  3. VHoff

    VHoff Chirping

    20
    65
    89
    Jan 1, 2018
    Western Massachusetts
    Thank you for your quick response! She does go flat in the nest, so that's one "yes". I'll go back to the coop and put her through the remaining exercises to see if I can get more and will report back.
    Thanks again!
     
    staceyj likes this.
  4. VHoff

    VHoff Chirping

    20
    65
    89
    Jan 1, 2018
    Western Massachusetts
    I agree about the need for handling, and have been developing that relationship but haven't gotten to that point yet. I didn't anticipate the need quite this soon.
     
    staceyj likes this.
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    6,355
    6,788
    496
    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Agree with @staceyj Not all broody hens will display all the signs of broodiness but will display at least one or two. The other thing to look out for is a great big disgusting smelling broody poop. Broody hens hold their waste to prevent soiling the nest and usually do just one horrific poop a day whilst they are off the nest to eat and drink. If your girl is doing normal poops or soiling the nest she is probably not broody.
    It she was egg bound, she would usually have a hunched back posture and her vent would be pulsing. They usually feel and act ill and will not generally eat because the stuck egg blocks them from pooping and that backs up their system and makes them feel "full"

    Do you have any plans if she is broody? It is better to break her of her broodiness if you do not plan to let her hatch chicks. If you do decide to giver her some fertile eggs, have a plan in place regarding what you will do with the surplus cockerels that will result.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
    ChooksNQuilts, VHoff and staceyj like this.
  6. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

    5,725
    31,304
    1,022
    Jan 1, 2017
    Coastal NC
    My Coop
    Just remember , don't hold one close too your face at first, but best of all, CHICKENS DONT HAVE TEETH! :gig
     
    VHoff likes this.
  7. VHoff

    VHoff Chirping

    20
    65
    89
    Jan 1, 2018
    Western Massachusetts
    Thank you, Barbara-
    All good information that's giving me some hope that she's just going broody. I haven't formulated a plan yet for this possible direction, but I was planning on getting more chickens in the spring so the idea of additional beaks doesn't bother me. However, a plan would be wise, so I'll have to put some deliberate thought in to this.
     
    staceyj likes this.
  8. staceyj

    staceyj Enabler

    5,725
    31,304
    1,022
    Jan 1, 2017
    Coastal NC
    My Coop
    no rooster = no fertile eggs to hatch
    You didn't mention if you have a rooster.

    Which generally means it would be best to try to break her if her broodiness as quickly as you can from the start.
    Being broody can take many weeks and isn't good for a hen repeatedly. They also aren't laying during this time.

    They are reluctant to come off the nest at all and eat/drink very little. As a consequence they can drop an alarming amount of weight, which they have to gain back afterwards in order to resume laying.

    There are many tips on these boards for breaking a broody, some work some of the time, none of which work "every time" has been my own experience.
    I've had the best luck with a smal dog crate though, which I purchased online then picked up later day at a big chain pet store.
    The cost was less than half what I would have paid had I walked into the store and purchased it without Pre- purchasing it online.
     
    VHoff likes this.
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    6,355
    6,788
    496
    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    No reason why the OP can't buy some fertile hatching eggs to set as many people do.
    I would be wary of putting a bird in a broody buster cage in winter. Certainly need to make sure she has a good roost to stand on as it would be too easy for her to get frost bitten toes in a wire cage if it's a cold climate.
    As she is just young and not used to being handled and perhaps not fully committed to being broody yet, it might be a simple matter of lifting her off the nest a few times during the day and placing her on the roost at night after dark with the other girls for a few nights to discourage her.
    .
     
    ChooksNQuilts and VHoff like this.
  10. VHoff

    VHoff Chirping

    20
    65
    89
    Jan 1, 2018
    Western Massachusetts
    Ah, yes, I have two cockerels in fact. I'm assuming she is, in fact, broody (and this is looking to be the case), I'm definitely leaning towards breaking her of this for now. Once I've determined this is the direction to go, I'll probably follow your lead with the dog crate. Doing my quick research now.
    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
    staceyj likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: