Fluffed feathers and clucking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Wickedwoods, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. Wickedwoods

    Wickedwoods New Egg

    Oct 2, 2015
    One of my friendliest buff orphingtons has started acting very strange. Orphingtons usually have this soft groaning sound when wandering or interacting. This one is just saying cluck, cluck, cluck and fluffs her feathers all out anytime another hen gets near her. Feather are fluffed, tail spread and wings dropped....like a Tom turkey. It is comical, but should I worry? She is still laying and running around eating, not nest sitting like a broody hen.
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Peeps are a-peeping Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    She's just beginning to get broody. She will start staying on the nest quite soon, I usually break mine right away, sometimes they resume laying quicker.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    She's most likely "pre-broody". Starting the broody-breaking treatment before she's laid her final egg is useless. You need to wait until she is sitting on a nest without moving off of it for a day.

    The broody "cluck" is one symptom of going broody that most new chicken keepers fail to notice, and many old timers often don't recognize. It's a very subtle "popping" noise, sort of like popcorn popping. It can precede nest sitting by a week or more.

    I've rushed the breaking process only to have a broody lay her final egg in the broody cage or, as has happened to me twice, have an egg slip out of the broody as I'm removing her from the nest to place her in the cage.

    Other symptoms of a hen going broody are bald patches along the breast or keel bone and feathers left in the nest along with an egg she's just laid.

    Often a broody behaves in an irritable manner, in turn irritating and annoying other members of the flock. As long as your hen is laying and then leaving the nest, she still may have more eggs to lay before she's ready to go broody for real. When you see she has laid an egg and remains sitting on it for several hours afterwards, then she's broody and it will pay to begin the breaking process by putting her in a cage without warm nesting material in order to lower her body temperature and interrupt the broody hormones.

    Usually the breaking process can accomplish its purpose within three days, but I've had a couple of broodies require up to ten days to break.
    2 people like this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Ten days? Wow! I’ve had to follow a three day with another three day in the broody buster but the vast majority break within the first three days. Nice description, by the way.

    I’d modify that description to say possibly pre-broody. I’ve had some broody hens that I never noticed any warnings, some that were pre-broody for a week before starting, and some that showed all the signs of a broody hen except nest sitting that never did kick over into full broody mode. Some hens go full broody mode instantly and hard, some have to sneak up on it, some get lost on the way.

    My test before giving a broody hen eggs to hatch is that she has to spend two consecutive nights on the nest instead of her normal roosting spot. I’ve had hens spend one night on the nest then never go back. I’ve been really successful with the two night test. Besides, it normally takes me a couple of days to get enough eggs to start her.

    A broody hen that is broken pretty quickly will probably resume laying faster than one you wait on. Before a hen even starts to lay she adds extra fat, which is what she lives off of while she is broody. That’s why a broody hen can get by eating so little while broody, she’s mostly living off of that stored fat. If you break her before she consumes much of that stored fat she doesn’t have to put that much fat back on before she starts to lay again.

    Something else I’ve noticed. Sometimes, not always but sometimes, if you toss a hen going broody off her nest the first night you see her on there, she breaks just from that. Sometimes just checking under her to see if there are any eggs is enough to frighten her off the nest and break her. She wasn’t quite in full broody mode and that was enough to stop her. But once a hen hits full broody mode, tossing her off the nest does not phase her. She will go back. If you really want a hen to go broody, don’t disturb her the first night you see her on the nest. Leaving her alone can help kick her over to full broody mode.

    Something else I think I’ve noticed. There are some experienced people on this thread so I’ll hijack a bit and ask a question. I think when a hen that has been laying in the nest in the coop starts hiding a nest it’s a sign that she is thinking about going broody. When I see that happening I quickly retrain her to use a regular nest so I don’t let that play out, but on several occasions those hens have gone broody a few weeks later. It’s certainly not a 100% sign but has anyone else noticed that?
    1 person likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Great input from azygous and RR...I've only had a few broodies needed breaking, but I'll add my two cents and a visual:

    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.

    Nipple water bottles added after pic was taken:
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK

    Yes I have seen the same behaviour with some of my broody hens. They will lay in the official nest box until they want to hatch a clutch and then they get sneaky and create a hidden stash. My flock free ranges in a small farmyard with lots of tumbledown sheds and nooks and crannies. I have my work cut out in the summer tracking them down once I realise I'm not getting eggs from a particular hen. This summer one of them managed to get into a place that I couldn't get to her. The best I could do was barricade her in so that she was as predator proof as I could make her. That is their way of making sure that they just hatch their own eggs. Much as I like to breed from particular hens, I do think that natural instinct is a good one so I humour them on occasion.

    As regards the original poster's question, I have nothing to add to what everyone else has said regarding pre broody/broody behaviour. My mother called them "clockers" I assume because they were clucking like a clock ticking counting off the seconds before they need to go back to the nest..... or maybe more appropriately a ticking time bomb! They are funny, especially if they have previously been lower in the pecking order and then suddenly get this "big mamma" persona!
  7. Wickedwoods

    Wickedwoods New Egg

    Oct 2, 2015
    Oh, thank you to all of you!! Very very helpful. She is on a nest tonight so she is going broody. There are no eggs under her, I removed them. I have no rooster so no need to sit on duds. I will remove her off the nest in the morning. I have a large run with 6' high coated chicken wire. I have 4 hens that jump this everyday. I think 2 of them are hiding nests somewhere, but aren't broody. Can chicken wings be clipped to deter jumping?
  8. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2014
    Are they going from the ground to 6ft high, or do they hop up on other things first? If the former, you'd have to clip one wing. If the latter, you could either stop them getting onto the item or put up a bit of ceiling (like an awning) so that they'd have to fly in a ( shape to get up to the top.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
  10. Wickedwoods

    Wickedwoods New Egg

    Oct 2, 2015
    They jump from the ground up. One of my EE's thinks she's a parrot and flies up on my shoulder when I bring food so she can get the first bite. lol. I was hoping that when they matured they would be too heavy to jump that high...but no. I was thinking of running an electric wire along the top to deter them. I know I will need to rig something to keep them out of my garden next summer. Right now they are cultivating it.

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