chick gain traits from broody

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by BackyardFarmer4, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. BackyardFarmer4

    BackyardFarmer4 Chirping

    Oct 10, 2013
    Ok I was wondering if my chicks are more prone to go broody because they were raised by my broody hen :idunno . Can chicks learn how to become broody from this. Thank you in advance! :D
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    The strongest influence a mother has on her chicks, or whatever chicks she raises, is in terms of physical health by giving them a good start to life, and psychological health by giving them social experience and tuition. This is very beneficial for their future social cohesion, though family line traits can still trump that early learning and render them socially malignant.

    Whether they will go broody or not, mother well or not, is arbitrary... It's by far more genetically based than experience based. I've had monster chick-killer hens bred and reared by great mothers, and great mothers bred by crappy mothers or even nasty ones. You can breed a clutch from a great mother and a great father and still get some non-mothers, or poor mothers, among them.

    We've bred maternal instincts and normal familial instincts out of some lines/breeds, many in fact, by using artificial reproductive means for too many generations and keeping them segregated from the natural social group, being the mother, father and chicks family unit. It takes about 7 generations to breed a trait out or in, give or take.

    Even if you start off with non-maternal hens, giving them the environment to try if they're so inclined, can eventually render fruit. By this conducive 'environment' I mean having at least one male around, either free range or sufficient room to brood and rear clutches in peace, etc. I do not, however, recommend letting nasty or negligent mothers keep doing half-witted jobs of mothering costing the lives of chicks.

    But that's personal choice. I don't give a bad mother a second chance, but some do, and some few hens will learn to mother after a few tries. I just can't tolerate a hen destroying chicks whether it's accidentally or deliberately. A good mother will very rarely cost you a single chick no matter what, whether it's by accident or predator attack or illness... Provided you take reasonable care of them, and their genetics are reasonable so there's no fatal faults for example, chick mortality can be zero. It almost always is for me, and I don't wrap them in cotton wool or keep them in Alcatraz, lol. ;)

    Best wishes.
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Should add... The very means by which instincts are bred in or out of them is the means by which they gain (or lose) traits from experience... So while having a great mother won't guarantee any of them will ever brood, mother, or be good at either, it's still a little deposit in the experience bank and means their offspring, if not necessarily themselves, are just a bit likelier to recover maternal instincts.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've not noticed a real strong relation. It seems more breed dependent than how they're raised. My most reliable broody hens have been bantam cochin brooder babies, and of all the female chicks they've brooded from my barnyard mix-n-match, I've not really had any go broody until this year, and those are 3 year old hatchery barred Rocks.
  5. kittydoc

    kittydoc Songster

    Apr 18, 2012
    Near Indianapolis
    In most domestic animals, maternal behavior is largely inherited (and perhaps partly learned) from the mother. It's no guarantee, but if you are selecting for broodies because you want them, keep pullets from a broody mother. As said elsewhere, it is no guarantee, but it is more likely than if the mother of the chick was not broody.

    Broodiness has been bred out of most breeds almost completely. I have Orpingtons, and a minority of my BO's go full-on broody every summer right around the summer solstice. This year, we let them go through it, but next year, we are going to break them of it by putting them in wire-bottom crates for several days. It hurts to lose that many eggs, especially when several go broody at once. However, I don't want to breed it out of them. I have always used an incubator with great success, and average hatch rate for hens is about 65% vs. 90-100% for artificial incubation (barring power outages, etc.).

    In cattle, cows actually determine more of the quality of their bull calves, too. If the cow's sire was a fertile bull, then that cow's bull calves are likely to also be successful. That is more important than the actual sire's fertility. I know it doesn't sound logical, but it's been studied, and that's how it works. People still use their best bulls for breeding, as they should, but the maternal grandsire has the most influence on the bull calf's fertility.

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