First time having a broody hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by R.M. Hens, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. R.M. Hens

    R.M. Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a white rock that started laying about 3 weeks ago. She is broody now. It started 2 days ago. Constantly sitting in the nest box. I pull her out and she goes right back. She's not mean, but will not stay out of the box. I have been toying with the idea of letting her hatch some chicks, but I have no clue what to do. I have 28 chickens in a large fenced in yard. I also have 6 nest boxes that are kind of high off the ground. Not too high for my hens and pullets, but definitely too high for chicks if they were to fall. I do not have a broody pen setup at all, but build one if I decide to let her hatch some. So here are some questions....

    How long does she have to sit on the eggs before they hatch?

    Will she do everything or would I need step in and pull the chicks when they are born?

    Will she ever get off the nest to eat and drink?

    I am sure I will have more questions, but any information I can get is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks-
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    21 days, she will take care of everything, and usually once a day. Offer chick feed to mama and babies as they need it and it won't hurt her a bit; layer will harm chicks. I feed my whole flock grower or flock raiser so the young ones don't get layer; oyster shell is on the side.

    Many a hen has hatched chicks in a barn's hay loft, many feet off the floor. They'll be fine in a high nest.

    All about broodies: http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Broody-Hens-1.html

    eta
    : the article says to put the broody and chicks in a separate pen, but many don't have one. I let my broodies raise their chicks in with the flock. Mama runs off the other hens, and roos tend to be helpful or protective. Lots can go wrong, though; I've been lucky with my half dozen mamas and chicks.

    It works best to collect eggs on your kitchen counter for hatching, mark them with a Sharpie, and put them under her all at once. If you let her collect them, she will abandon unhatched eggs to raise the first chicks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  3. appychick

    appychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hatching chicks is a great experience,but only if you really want more birds as they can multiply in a hurry. First you must have a fertile rooster with your hens for at least 10 days,preferably longer to insure your eggs are fertile or else get fresh fertile eggs from another source.. It takes 21 days on most breeds to hatch with normal conditions. It is best to isolate your hen in a safe,small area away from the others as often other birds will become canniballistic if they should find chicks out of a nest ,or bother the hen once they hear the eggs hatching. Some hens refuse to get out of nest box until eggs hatch while others will get out of nest box on a regular basis to eat & drink & exercise a little. So All are safer if hen is isolated. Best to move the hen to a new-safe from predators location under darkness & then they seem to not get upset & quit being broody. I prefer a deep nesting box so the chicks cannot get away Or chilled. Depending on your climate-also you could put a large cardboard box upside down loosely over the nest box so the hen could still get in & out(with a doorway) but extra protection when the hen left the nest to eat. I prefer to remove the chicks as they hatch as hens often leave the nest with a couple first hatched chicks causing the rest of the eggs to get cold & die. Then the babies learn what food & water is and are ready to go back to hen all prepared for life when the hen is done with hatch. Again best to give the chicks back to hen under darkness in a deep nest box so they learn who there mom is.
    Hope this helps some....
     
  4. chickchicks

    chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi

    this is my first timetoo

    i only have 2 chickens and now both are broody

    ive given one of themeggs to hatch (got them froma nearbuy farm as i dont have a rooster)

    the other i thinki am going to break as i dont have the room to keep alot of chickens .at the momenttheboth havedecided toput there diferences aside and share the eggs!

    mine if all goes wellwill be hatchingon the 16th august itsmy first time and i amreally nervous. hoping all goes well. ifyou do decide to give it a go let us all know how wellit goes and what you end up with !!!
     
  5. R.M. Hens

    R.M. Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your quick reply. I feed flock raiser as well. In fact, I think I switched because of reading a post from you. [​IMG] Everything has been great since I switched. Thank you for the suggestion.

    So I just pull eggs and leave them sit on my kitchen counter until I want to put them under her? How long can I keep them before giving them to her to hatch? How many should I give her to hatch?

    What happens if she decides she's not broody anymore? If she sits for a couple days or weeks and then gets up?
     
  6. R.M. Hens

    R.M. Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies. I have a rooster. He is young, 4 months. But is crowing and doing his "thing". [​IMG] Surely, he is fertilizing the eggs right?
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    How long does she have to sit on the eggs before they hatch?

    About 21 days. It can be 19 days or 23 days even with a broody hen, but usually pretty close to 21 days.

    Will she do everything or would I need step in and pull the chicks when they are born?

    Hens have been hatching chicks with the flock and raising them with the flock for thousands of years. There are risks with this. There are risks if you isolate them for hatching or raising them. You are dealing with living animals. There are some risks no matter what you do. Different ones of us have different set-ups, each chicken has its own personality, and each flock has its own dynamics. What works or causes problems for one of us might be totally different for others.

    If you mark all the eggs you want her to hatch, put them all under her at the same time, and check under her daily to remove any other eggs that might show up, you should not have to interfere during hatch at all. I firmly believe the more you interfere, the greater chance you take of getting Mama into protective mode where she has a real chance of injuring a chick while preparing to fight you off. They are living animals and don't all have the same personalities or strength of instinct, but I believe you are better staying out of the way and let Mama handle it. Of course I watch to see if there is a reason to interfere, but I don't interfere because I lack self control or because it is neat or cool to interfere.

    What I usually do is wait until Mama brings them off the nest. Then I put Mama and the babies in a prepared place for a couple of days so the chicks can learn to eat and drink without interference from the older chickens. Then I turn them loose to grow up with the flock. A lot of people don't go to that much trouble but I can be over protective. When you pick Mama up, be careful. Those chicks can crawl up under her wings. I've crushed a chick by picking Mama up, so get your hands underneath her so you can be sure you are not grabbing a chick along with her.

    A good broody will defend her chicks from other hens, if the other hens pose a problem. Not all broodies are good, but not all hens are searching out the chicks, trying to steal them away from Mama for a snack. The other chickens may or may not kill the chicks if they get separated from Mama where she cannot protect them. My biggest problems with a broody raising chicks with a flock have been where the chicks get on the wrong side of a fence that Mama cannot get through to protect them. If you do decide to isolate Mama and her babies, make sure the chicks cannot get out of that enclosure without Mama going with them.

    Will she ever get off the nest to eat and drink?

    They are living animals with their own instincts and personalities. Almost all broodies will leave the nest to eat, drink, dust bathe, and poop. I find that if the weather is hot, they spend a lot more time off the nest than if the weather is cooler. And occasionally you will find a broody that does not get off the nest to take care of business. It does not hurt anything at all to remove her once a day, say when you are checking for new eggs, to give her a chance to take her daily constitutional, but don't be surprised if she runs back to the nest instead. And remember they are very protective of that nest. They are not likely to get off if there is a threat around. You being around is a threat. They are going to try to sneak on and off the nest.

    I don't know what you mean about the nests being too high for chicks. I've seen broodies get chicks out of a 10' high hay loft. Mama says jump and they do. They are living animals and anything can happen, but I've never seen one get hurt doing this. I'm not recommending a nest ten feet high for fun, but I personally would not worry about a three or four foot high nesting box.

    The other side of this is that a chick might fall out and not be able to get back in. I have decent lips on mine to keep the chickens from scratching out eggs and nesting material. I've never had a chick fall out. But it is possible, especially if the lip is pretty low.

    I suggest you read my post on this thread. It might help or maybe help clarify some more questions. Good luck!

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=213218

    You might crack some eggs and look for the bull's eye to see if they are fertile. A four month old may or may not be fertilizing the eggs.

    Fertile Egg Photos
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=16008&p=6

    How many to give her? I suggest a minimum of four to be pretty sure some will hatch. They can handle as many as they can cover. Not all eggs are the same size and not all chickens are the same size. Usually a hen can very comfortably cover a dozen eggs the same size she lays, but a bantam may have trouble covering four full sized eggs.
     
  8. appychick

    appychick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another reason I like to isolate the broody hen, broodiness seems to be contagious & soon you have lots of broody hens & very few laying eggs.....Thus creating a situation that can get out of control ,especially if you have free roam hens & they will hide anywhere to nest !
     
  9. R.M. Hens

    R.M. Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Pearl River, LA
    Thanks so much for the help ya'll. I may or may not let her hatch some, but after the info ya'll have provided I feel alot better if I decide to do it.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. chickchicks

    chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thats true my second hasjust gone broody one me theday beforei try to move her ! gutted no more eggs for me for a while if a cant stop this then . [​IMG]
     

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