First Time Broody Owner

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by krista74, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone.

    Well, my RIR hen has gone broody. She has ripped out every feather from under her neck down to her vent, and hunkered down in a nest box with 3 plastic eggs. She has been glued there for 3 days now, and although I'm assured she must be eating and drinking (I haven't seen it) she hasn't pooped for 2 days. I am patiently waiting for her to explode now [​IMG]

    In the past 3 days I have accumulated 8 fertile eggs for her. I have a BO cockerel and 2 BO hens, so three of their eggs are in there, as well as 5 BO x RIR eggs. I took away the plastic eggs and put the 8 real eggs under her this afternoon, and while she grizzled a bit while she was off the nest, as soon as she saw there were 8 eggs in there she leapt into the nest box and has been flat up against them all day. Transfer successful!

    I have her locked in a cage within the main coop. It is about 5 feet long x 2.5 feet wide. She has a clean garbage bin which is on its side and supported by bricks to stop it rolling, and there is hay (and the eggs) in it. She seems to have a bit of room to turn around which is good. I do not let her outside as the other hens are being vicious with her. Will she be ok without sunlight and fresh air for 21 days?

    She has water, a bowl of cracked corn, some grit and some crushed wheat - not that I ever see her out of the bin to eat/drink it.

    My questions: Are 8 eggs enough for her? Is there anything else I need to do for her now?

    I take it she just takes over and looks after the eggs. What sort of hatch rate should I expect (assuming she stays on the eggs for the full 21 days.)

    Thanks! - Krista
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    If she is eating, she is probably getting off the nest when you aren't looking, once a day, to poop. You should see a single, large, stinky poop in the cage each day. She needs a complete diet, and she needs just a little space to walk around for a few minutes each day, or perhaps some time out of the cage each day, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Hens lose weight and muscle tone when broody, and if they have no room to get a few minutes' worth of exercise each day, they can lose even more.

    She can raise the chicks in with the flock or separately. I like to let them grow up in the flock so that they are an accepted part of the flock when the mama stops mothering them in a few weeks, and I like to separate them for the setting, until the chicks hatch. Some people let them set in the flock as well, although since your hens were attacking her, it's probably best to separate her as you did.

    8 eggs is fine, actually probably a very good number. They could all hatch, or only some, or even none -- it depends on a number of factors. Hopefully, at least most of them will hatch.

    There are a number of ways to manage broodies; there is no right or wrong about it. I'll give you some links to further reading about broodies. Good luck!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/guide-to-letting-broody-hens-hatch-and-raise-chicks

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/693407/broody-bird-what-to-do/0_20#post_9400530
     
  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I can confirm that she must have left the nest to eat at some point, and I only know that as I put a small, neat pile of cracked corn in the corner of her pen, and when I came back at the end of the day it was scratched up and strewn all over the place! She is the only one who can access it, so she must have eaten some, and I guess we can assume she had some water while she was up too?

    I know for sure though that she has not pooped for 3 days now. Since she is isolated in a 5 ft x 2.5 ft pen, and I would like to think I would notice a steaming pile of broody poop in there, lol! On the plus side, hubby is in charge of looking after her and the rest of the flock today while I am at work, and is under strict instruction to check and clean up any poop. [​IMG] It may just be his lucky day, ha ha!

    I have tried lifting her from the nest to walk around the coop while the others are out ranging, but she just sits in one spot like a potato. If I harass her she will get up and walk around, but grizzles the whole time and gets back into the wrong nest, lol. Hopefully she will be ok enclosed in her pen for 24 hours while I'm away. Hubby says "just ;eave her alone, if she wants to get up she will." I guess I have to trust she knows what she's doing. At least she has room to flap her wings and do a few paces within her pen. TBH she doesn't really seem interested in going very far anyway.

    Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate your time. I will check out the links you sent me and try to learn as much as I can to help her.

    - Krista
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I agree she needs a higher protein diet while brooding. Corn and wheat are not nutrient dense enough to support her while brooding. Being broody takes a lot out of their body and even under good circumstances they tend to lose condition. Give her chick starter or layer pellets or whatever else you're feeding.

    I would also give her a place to dust bathe away from the nest. The space you have sounds a touch small for a large fowl broody, to be solely confined there for 3 weeks. I've used a similar space on a bantam and she did fine, but she's a tiny little thing. Broody hen's are susceptible to external parasites like mites, as they're literally sitting ducks for any bug that comes along. They don't preen or move around like a non-broody bird, so a daily exercise and dust bath is pretty important to keep her healthy. Is there any way you can section off a place for her to get out some?


    Twere it me, I'd put a couple more eggs under her [​IMG]. I'm greedy about my broodies, I figure if I'm going to lose a layer for 2-3 months, I may as well get the largest return! Plus, only half-ish are going to be hens (boy, I wish half were hens this year [​IMG] I'm at like 80% cockerels). Under a full size broody I put a dozen eggs. If you just placed the eggs today, you can easily add tomorrow's laying to them, that one day won't make enough difference to notice.
     
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  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Donrae for your great advice. I have placed some more eggs under her this morning and she has 10 in total now. If I could just get 2 pullets to hatch I'd be delighted, as I was wanting to extend my flock a little bit. Trust my luck, I'll have a 100% hatch rate and 100% will be cockerels, lol.

    I can certainly put some layers pellets in there for her, and will do so first thing tomorrow morning. She is very thin already, and I suspect this broody thing has been building for a while, but my untrained eye didn't pick it. It was a shock when I picked her up and she was completely naked underneath. I thought I saw somewhere not to give layers pellets to broodies, but I can see you're quite experienced, so I will take your advice over something I read any day! Chick Starter - I don't have any yet, but obviously as hatching day draws nearer I'll invest in some. She is only on Day 2, so I have some time to get to the store. (She sat on plastic eggs for 2 days first.)

    I WISH she would dust bathe, but she just refuses to leave the nest. I can't really fence off any more area for her permanently, which does worry me too. Not that she is moving around that much. I have not seen her off the nest at all, except for yesterday when I lifted her out under duress. I can pick her up and put her into the larger coop area (the whole coop would be 15 x 14 feet) when the others are out roaming, but she is a right little devil and keeps trying to dart back to the nest, grizzling all the way.


    May I ask you a couple of questions please?

    1. Is it ok for me to lift her from the nest twice a day and 'encourage' her to stretch her legs, and move around the coop while the others are out foraging. We have dirt floors and some of the girls dust bathe within the coop, so maybe she might too? Or is lifting her from the nest going to discourage her broodiness? I can also take her outside into the fenced run when the others are out in the backyard, but I'm not sure I'd be able to herd her back into the coop again. It is a massive run. Do you think I should chance it? Will she go back to the nest by her own accord, or will I be chasing a grizzly, grumbling chicken all day trying to get her to go back in?!
    2. She has not pooped for 4 days now. Not a skerrick. I know this for sure as like I said, she is confined, and I have searched her pen high and low. Can I do anything to help her with this, and is it dangerous? In short, is she going to explode?!
    3. I put down some Pestene Powder (like Sevin dust) into the hay in her nest, to discourage mites and lice. Is this ok? She was also dusted twice about a month ago. I can re-dust her again if you feel this is appropriate? No signs of lice or mites two days ago when I picked her up, and she does not move a muscle while she is on the nest, let alone scratch.

    Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to your reply.

    - Krista
     
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Today's update: Day 5, and still no poop. I'm really starting to get worried about her.....!

    I made up a mixture of some warm porridge, grated apple, sultanas and a little honey, then physically lifted her form the nest and plonked her down in the big coop to eat. She had a teaspoon or two of that, and then some layers pellets (which she scoffed down frantically), but no water. She seems to be moving her neck funny after eating, sort of like a stretching, twisting motion. Could this just be because she has not been eating much the last few days?

    She wouldn't walk about while she was in the larger coop, she just stood in the same spot growling! I had hoped she might scratch around for wheat, or play in the dust in the corner. Nope. After 5 minutes she spied her nest of eggs through the mesh of her pen and slowly moved back to her nest. She sort of walks down low, all hunched over and fluffed out, and growling the whole way! I can't force her to exercise I guess.....

    My plan is to take her outside for some sunshine this afternoon when the rest of the flock leave the outside run to go foraging in our paddock. She will be safe that way at least. I am hoping she will dust bathe and poop then. Is there anything I can do to assist with this?

    I have put layers pellets and the rest of the porridge into her pen, along with lots of water. She just sits. And sits. And sits.....................I worry!

    - Krista
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    She just sits. And sits. And sits.....................I worry!

    Yep, that's what they do. Broodies are not interested in much while they're setting. I personally just let them be. Usually they'll get off the nest for about 20 min. once a day to eat, drink and poop. If she's not eating much, she may not have anything to poop out yet. I would not lift her off the nest - especially twice a day - as it could discourage her from sitting. Most broodies prefer to be left alone. If you're not watching her 24 hours a day, you may miss her 'stretching break". They tend to want to be secretive (as secretive as they can be once they're found and moved to a nesting place of owner's choice instead of their own ;) ) The best thing you can do for your girl is leave her alone, make sure she has food, water, and room to stretch her legs a bit. Then let her decide when she wants to do it.
     
  8. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    Today turned out to be a lovely day. It is 2pm, the sun is shining, its a warmish 18 degrees celcius (not bad for Winter), and all the rest of my flock had departed for the paddock to forage. I thought I'd try and get broody to eat and have some water, so I quietly picked her up and took her outside into the sunshine for some fresh air and a little break from the nest.

    Well, she saw the layers pellets and hoovered some of those up like she hadn't eaten in days. Which, I guess, is about right. Then she had a huge drink of water, standing there for a good three minutes drinking away, thinking, and then drinking some more.

    I'm not quite sure how I should word what happened next. I was sitting there, marvelling at how well she looked today in comparison to the past 3 days, where to be honest she had been looking very much like an old sofa cover, or a run-over squirrel. She sort of cocked her head to one side like she was having a good think about something, and then her whole body went rigid. What happened next was a sight to behold.

    Now i should preface this by saying that I have been told about broody poop. I have read of the smell and thought "You weak-willed people, complaining about the smell of chicken poop..." How wrong I was. I had NO IDEA....

    She let loose with a poop which had so much force behind it I thought she was about to rocket to the moon! It has it's own side effect "prrrrrffffffttttttt.....!" And what came out was a thick spray of brownish/greenish poop which covered a good 5 inches of soil. Despite sitting six metres away, the smell was INSTANT, and filled the whole yard. [​IMG]It turns out my fears of her exploding were not so far-fetched!

    There is truly nothing like it in the world. [​IMG] I now believe 100% for sure that I have a broody bird, and not a sick one!

    She had a bit of a stretch and a wander around, and then meandered back to her nest of eggs after about 10 minutes of being out.

    Now that I've regained consciousness, all is well with the world.

    - Krista
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    1. Is it ok for me to lift her from the nest twice a day and 'encourage' her to stretch her legs, and move around the coop while the others are out foraging. We have dirt floors and some of the girls dust bathe within the coop, so maybe she might too? Or is lifting her from the nest going to discourage her broodiness? I can also take her outside into the fenced run when the others are out in the backyard, but I'm not sure I'd be able to herd her back into the coop again. It is a massive run. Do you think I should chance it? Will she go back to the nest by her own accord, or will I be chasing a grizzly, grumbling chicken all day trying to get her to go back in?! I don't micromanage my broodies at all. I trust their instincts, and let them handle things. I do raise a hen up every day or other day to collect any eggs she has tucked under there that are not part of the original clutch, as mine as usually brooding in the main coop. Other than a visual check twice day, I let her do her thing. I fully trust she will get off the nest, eat, drink, exercise, terrorize the other birds, poop, and be back to the nest in less than 20 minutes [​IMG]
    2. She has not pooped for 4 days now. Not a skerrick. I know this for sure as like I said, she is confined, and I have searched her pen high and low. Can I do anything to help her with this, and is it dangerous? In short, is she going to explode?! Sounds like that one's taken care of.
    3. I put down some Pestene Powder (like Sevin dust) into the hay in her nest, to discourage mites and lice. Is this ok? She was also dusted twice about a month ago. I can re-dust her again if you feel this is appropriate? No signs of lice or mites two days ago when I picked her up, and she does not move a muscle while she is on the nest, let alone scratch. I don't use Sevin, etc, so can't really advise on that. I just visually check them for any changes.

    Glad things are working out well for you!
     
  10. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This post cracked me up! I almost lost my coffee!
     

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