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Diet for Brooding Hen?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ClareScifi, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My sweet hen has been sitting on fertilized eggs for a week. Previous to this she was sitting on unfertilized eggs for probably over a week. She doesn't eat or drink much. She gets off her nest ever so often and takes a dust bath and exercises for a few minutes.

    I have given her a few treats which she eats: little pieces of chard, little pieces of broccoli leaves, little chunks of watermelon with the seeds which she loves, bits of strawberries, bits of banana, a little plain yogurt, and I'm wondering whether it is okay to give her scrambled eggs?

    The reason I ask is because I read that brooding hens don't each much of their chicken feed because it's too high in protein for their lower energy needs during their brooding. Eggs are high in protein, so is it a bad idea to give them scrambled eggs during this period? When I did offer her some scrambled eggs, before I read about their lowered protein needs and was worried she might be hungry, she devoured the scrambled eggs as if they were the best thing she had ever tasted.

    What sort of treats do you give your girls while they are brooding?

    Someone told me to make sure food and water are near her nest so she doesn't have to get off it. Is that good advice, or should I put it at a distance so she has to get off the nest to get to it? She doesn't seem to be eating and drinking much, even though it is near enough her nest to do so without getting off her nest. She does get off her nest occasionally, though, even with it being near. I haven't seen her get off her nest every day, though I have seen her get off it 2 times in the past week.

    Thanks for your help,

    Clare
     
  2. slurrywidow

    slurrywidow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, I have my first broody and I'm giving her scrambled eggs and she goes crazy over them! I very well could be mistaken but I think I read that it's the calcium that they don't need in the feed not the protein. I have my broody set up in a kennel that allows her to have food and water about 2 ft away but she still doesn't EVER get off the nest unless I "help" her off. I've also been given the info that it's a good idea to put the food/water a little bit from them so they get off the nest to stretch and poo. As for treats I've been giving her eggs, watermelon, grapes, high vege & protein table scraps....anything to get her to eat! She hardly eats anything so it worries me.
    There is a great thread about broody hens in the incubating/hatching section. The people there are so helpful and I've learned so much from reading the thread. If you have other questions you might try there. Good luck with your girl!
     
  3. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your reply. How often do you give your broody hen scrambled eggs to eat? Every day, or less frequently?
     
  4. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Since you are going to need a bag of chick starter when the egg hatch, get a bag of chick starter and offer that to her it will be far better for here than treats.
    Also don't feed her in the nest, make her get up to get the feed.

    Chris
     
  5. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should get the medicated kind, right?
     
  6. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote:I would.

    Chris
     
  7. extraordinaryfowl

    extraordinaryfowl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I always provide free choice layer mash (what she was eating before she went broody) and scratch grains, and of course water right in the cage she is sitting in. This has worked for many successful hatches. Then of course onto chick starter when the chicks hatch. Though I see no problem in feeding her chick starter before they hatch too if this works better. MW

    eta: I don't use medicated starter anymore and it works alright for me, though of course if you can't accept any losses are worried they will get cocci you may want to get medicated.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  8. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was reading today that you should feed broody hens food that has no more than 16% protein because they need so much less protein when not laying. Unfortunately, I bought a big expensive bag of fresh food (crumbles) for them right before I left on vacation, and it is 18%. They still had 1/2 a bag left when I bought the new bag, but I was afraid since I had only the 2 chickens, it might have gotten too stale in the summer heat (50 lbs of it). I had no idea one of the two chickens would die while I was away on vacation. The food had really skyrocketed in price. In June, I think it was, I got a bag for $15.00 but in August the same food cost me something like $24.00! This is what I have been giving her. Do I need to go out and buy some lower protein, 16% food, while she is broody?

    I was given these chickens by my neighbor a year and a half ago, and they are really costing me a lot of money, and I don't even eat eggs. I love them, but it sure is an expensive hobby. I do still have pellets left that I bought this past spring, but they didn't like them very much, and I'm sure they are stale by now. They are 16%, I believe, but I'm afraid to give them to her, since having lost the one chicken while I was away on vacation I am now scared of everything, not even knowing what killed her. I don't think chickens are for worrywarts like me, who get attached and can't cope when one dies, but I don't think it would be fair to the surviving chicken to send her away. either. She's been through so much stress, loving her beloved sister, and I am like her Mama. I raised her from a tiny chick.

    Maybe the farm store will let me buy some 16% crumbles in a small amount for her, if I tell them my sad story? My neighbor bought her and her dead sister at their store, so maybe they will be more receptive because of that.
     
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    When I have a hen go down on egg I feed her,
    20% protein medicated chick starter just like what I give the chicks and her when they hatch.
    I have never had a problem with this and have been doing it for 25+ years with not one problem.

    I would not feed her a Layer as she is not laying and don't need the add calcium in her system now nor would I feed any feed that is less than 18 percent protein.


    Chris
     
  10. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good grief! I went outside and heard Esther, and she was off her nest for a bit and ate broccoli bits well. I made her some fresh water with apple cider vinegar, and she drank well. I had let her out in the yard to free-range a bit, so she could eat all the greens she wanted. There aren't any greens growing inside the run yet. Turned my back, and she was gone!

    Had a very close call. She had found the old nest of year-old eggs under the house that I can't get to to remove! She had seen them and decided to brood those, instead of the new ones! I panicked... Luckily, Esther has always been my best eater, broody or not! I started wildly throwing her $25.00 crumbles around the porch and calling, "Esther, Esther, chick!, chick!, chick!..." like I did when she was a baby, and she came out from under the porch in search of the yummies! Thank goodness!!! I nabbed her and shut her back up in the coop with the new eggs.

    I don't think she was off the nest too long. Always something! This chicken bit just keeps me hopping! She was so good and didn't try to peck me or anything when I carried her back to her new nest. Cute little girl she is! Easter would be so proud of her sister. What a bad scare! I'd have been sick had the new eggs been abandoned and she'd have started wasting her time on the old unfertilized eggs.
     

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