Does Broody Behavior Go Away with Age?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by billygoat162, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. billygoat162

    billygoat162 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do hens that go broody one season typically keep going broody as they age, or do they become more mellow? I have a 2-3 year old Buff Orpington that was incredibly broody last summer (impossible to break) and ended up hatching some eggs and being a terrific mother. So far this year she isn't broody, but my 9 month old Welsummer is and I'm tempted to order some eggs and slip them under her. Is it likely that the BO will be just as broody this summer though? She really was impossible to break last summer, and I would hate to have that happen again and not be able to give her some eggs to hatch.

    It's been in the high 60's and 70's for a few weeks, and will hit the 80's and 90's pretty regularly once summer gets here. If the Welsummer is this broody already, I'm wondering if she will become more-so when it gets even warmer.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    There are no guarantees as there are so many variables.
    Generally speaking, the older a hen is, the more inclined she is to want to raise a family.

    To break them, did you use the tried and true elevated wire bottom cage method?
    I had an orpington that went broody regularly and one that never did.
    None of my welsummers ever went broody.
    I had a black leghorn that went broody often and raised a couple batches of chicks every year.
    I used to get several Penedesenca hens go broody every year and one year 8 out of 9 pullets went broody at the same time. However, I haven't had a broody in the last 2 years.
    The bedding and configuration of the nest has a lot to do with it.
    Since I've started using plastic nest pads, none have chosen to sit on them 24/7.
     
  3. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    They would slow down with age. I have hens that go broody 4 times in one year. But I am curious how you tried to break her broodiness---I have never had one that was impossible to break and I have broke many usually in 3 days.
     
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Some Hens will go Broody once a year, some twice a year, some right after laying about 6 eggs and start all over again and some never Brood another clutch....I all depends on the Hen....Age does not play into their Broodiness...:)


    Cheers!
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My broodies tend to be reliable. If they want to brood, it's pretty consistent year after year. Then again, I encourage broodiness, so I'm thrilled to have them set [​IMG]
     
  6. billygoat162

    billygoat162 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I tried everything to break her. The wire-bottom cage, frozen water bottles, even a bucket of cold water. I tried for a month straight. Sometimes I could get her to stop for a day or two, but that was it. Starting about a week before she completely took over a nesting box, she would puff up and stick out her wings and pace with her head down while growling almost all day. If I pulled her off her nest and set her down in an opposite corner of the yard, she would sprint back to her nest faster than I could. She would attack anything that went near her eggs or chicks, including the alpha hen (a giant RIR that generally tries to kill newcomers), with whom she is now tied with for dominance (they leave each other alone). She was at the bottom of the pecking order before that.

    She was a terrific mother though, and never let any harm come to her chicks. When I saw how good she was at it and how she integrated the chicks so nobody would hurt them, not even the RIR, I decided that broodies are how I'm adding to my flock from now on. I was planning to slip some Australorp eggs under her this spring, but she hasn't gone broody yet. It's still early in the season (we had a blizzard 3-4 weeks ago, and right now it's pouring rain), so I was surprised when my young Welsummer went broody.

    The Welsummer isn't as aggressive in protecting her eggs as the BO was (she won't peck me), but she still screeches at any hens that come near her and I saw some blood splatter inside her nesting box. I have her inside the 'broody buster' that I converted into a hatching box right now with some ceramic eggs, but feel like I might be taking an unnecessary risk if the BO is likely to be just as good of a mom this year as she was last year. I think I read somewhere that first-time broodies are more likely to abandon the nest before the eggs hatch, and that not all broodies make good moms.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  7. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I Love Broodies and have had Many---I set 72 in just 2015 alone---over 80 more in 2013 and 2014, there was times I had to break some because all the private hatching pens were taken or the broody was one of a small flock of a certain breed and I needed her to lay eggs---not set.

    Seems you sure tried to break her----I do not feel cold bottles or water baths will usually work unless they stay on them or in the water for 2 or 3 days----I would not try that. The cage has always worked for all that I have ever tried in the last few years---probably 100+ broody hens. If you had the cage elevated(hanging is best because if anything is placed under it to hold it up--she will brood on it) with Nothing to lay on----no hay, or bedding, no feed trays, no water bowls and no roost perches(I use a rabbit feeder hanging on the outside)----and left her in it for 3 to 4 FULL days then she is a tough one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I would break the Wellie and pin my hopes on the Orp, later in the season. sounds like you're only wanting one clutch, so later in the year will be just fine for you. May seems to be the time when most of mine want to set.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    My experience with broodies is that they will keep going broody as they age, but will slack off from their original intensity. The older ones make very good mothers, so I would select the mature one over the first-time broody.

    I have a favorite broody who is now six years old. She has reliably gone broody four times every year of her life. I've been waiting all winter for her to go broody and raise me some chicks, and the rascal is showing no signs of being in the mood. We shall see. I tend to be impatient about almost everything. You can't make a hen go broody.

    As for breaking a broody, this very same broody I just mentioned has been one of the most tenacious broodies in the chicken universe. Her best record was ten days in the cage before being broke. The secret to breaking a broody, besides the tips already presented, is to place the broody cage in the center of activity in the run. The second secret is not to be fooled into releasing the broody before she's really finished being broody.

    If you think you can let her out of the cage to roost in the coop, you will just prolong the broody spell and it will take longer to break her. I test the broody after three days in the cage. If she goes right to a nest, she isn't broken. Some might try to fool you and remain away from the nest for a few hours, and then I'll find them on a nest. You need to be vigilant.

    For very stubborn broodies, a fan set up to blow air under her will hurry the process. If it's a very warm summer day, I will dip the broody in water so her underparts are wet. Then the fan blowing on her really has a chance to lower her body temperature, which is key in getting those broody hormones to cool down.
     
  10. chickenshiha

    chickenshiha Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have hens at 5 and 6 years ols that still go broody twice a year but they dont lay anymore. Guess they just want to be moms cuz there laying is over
     

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