Can anyone tell me? I have a hen who is setting,

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Woodcox Acre, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Woodcox Acre

    Woodcox Acre Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 18, 2011
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    shes been setting for several days now and has not come out to drink or eat, do I have anything to worry about? This is our first experience with a broody hen.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Usually they get up to eat and drink once a day, and leave a "broody poop," which is large and smelly. And usually they seem to prefer to do this when no people are around, so I'm wondering if you just aren't seeing sign that she has been up. Occasionally a hen will not get up at all, though, and will die of starvation on the nest. So, yes, if she is really not getting up at all, you need to pick her up at least once a day, and prod her til she eats, drinks and poops.

    I actually get my broodies off the nest once a day and nudge them til they get up and walk around, eat and drink, even if I have to close off the nest for a few minutes. I don't want one to not get up, and I figure the little extra food and drink and exercise is good, anyway, as most any broody will lose weight while sitting on eggs. This is just something I came up with -- but I don't worry about having one who never gets up.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with Flockwatcher. I've never had a broody that starved herself to death, but a few people on this forum have posted they have. I'm not always sure I believe that when I see it. They are living animals and you can never be sure what they will do, but I sometimes suspect something else caused the death. A broody does not eat, drink, or exercise as much as non-broody hens, which can weaken them. It is possible roost mites or an underlying condition killed them in their weakened condition, not necessarily that they starved themselves to death.

    When the weather is hot, like the middle of summer here, it is not that unusual for me to see a broody off her nest for an hour or so at a time, maybe even twice a day. If the weather is cool or cold, they seem to hop off, eat, drink, poop, and dust bathe, then hop right back on. There are some broodies that I hardly ever see off the nest.

    I don't know if you have isolated her or she is hatching with the flock. If she is with the flock, I suggest you mark the eggs you want her to hatch and check under her daily to remove any other eggs. This is a good time to toss her out of the coop door to see if she will eat, drink, or poop. When I do this, some of mine take advantage of the opportunity for their daily constitutional, but some just run right back on the nest. But by checking daily, you can see if she has pooped in the nest. If she has not pooped in the nest, she is almost certainly getting up.
     
  4. Woodcox Acre

    Woodcox Acre Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 18, 2011
    A Mt. Valley in Utah
    Yahhh - she finally got off the nest today, day 4. She was out for about 15 min. She drank quite a bit and ate some. We were so gald to see her out. She is isolated in a extra coop ( 4x5 ) that my husband completely gutted and cleaned and fixed just for her, with her own run, so she is set that way. I feel so much better now. Thank you so much for both of your comments. I was getting a little worried about her.
    She seemed just fine, I should of known she knew what she was doing. Thanks
     
  5. new2chickenlife

    new2chickenlife Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Dumb question...what do you mark the eggs with? and is it better to move the broody chicken away from the nesting boxes?
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You might be surprised how much controversy something as simple as that marking question can raise. I use a Sharpie and just draw a circle around the egg so no matter how it is laying in the nest, I can see it. You can also add dates or code letters if you want to tell them apart.

    I've also used a soft-leaded pencil laying flat and rubbing it to make a line. A # 2 pencil will work but a # 1 is better. If you try writing on the egg with a pencil, especially a hard leaded pencil, it can wear off and will be hard to see. That's why I like a wide line with a soft leaded pencil. But a black Sharpie is easier to see.

    Her set-up sounds nice. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by moving her away from the nesting boxes. There are a lot of different ways you can manage her while she is on the nest and after the chicks hatch. There are advantages and disadvantages with all if them. I don't look at these different ways as better or worse or the right way or wrong way, just the way each of us elects to do it. I generally let a broody both hatch and raise them with the flock. Some people totally isolate a broody during hatch. Some isolate a broody and her chicks after the hatch, whether she was isolated during hatch or not. Some people even take the chicks away from a broody and raise them in a brooder.

    You have her set up for hatch, which is great. My thoughts on a hen raising her chicks with the flock is that Mama will take care of integration. If she weans tham at 4 weeks or 9 weeks, they are part of the flock. They will still be at the bottom of the pecking order and will have some issues there, but as long as they have room to get away from the other adults, they should be OK. I do think how much room Mama has to work with before she weans them and how much room the chicks have to work with after weaning makes a big difference.
     
  7. tinaschiks

    tinaschiks Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2012
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    can you have a hen get off too much that the eggs suffer
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You are dealing with living animals. Anything is possible. You can find exceptions to practically anythng. Is it possible, of course. Is it likely, no.

    What is so surprising to me is that the vast majority get it right based on pure instincts. You get chicks hatched in an incubator and raised in a brooder with no adult chickens around and they practically always get it right.
     
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    My instinct is to let a broody hen be. They know when they're hungry, thirsty and need to poop. They'll take care of all that when they need to. I don't think they need to eat as often because they're not burning as many calories sitting on their nest. (That's my theory, anyway... I'm sure the experts will have a better explanation) How do birds hatch in the wild without human intervention? How did chickens survive for thousands of years without our help? I know - there are always exceptions, but I've never seen one starve to death yet.
     
  10. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Hey Woodcox - why not join Mahonri's 3rd Annual Easter Hatch-a-long? You can join although your hatch is a few days ahead of everyone else (there are a couple of contests that you cannot win but there are plenty of others you could!) Pop on over there and tell them I invited you. There are hundreds of people there ready, willing and able to help you through your first hatch! Go - go, now!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012

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