Has your broody ever...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NewEnglandChick, May 31, 2010.

  1. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    I originally started a thread on the "incubating forum" as my original question pertained to incubating. The circumstances have since changed and am now curious to get the opinion of the "behavior forum".
    The Background: One of my hens went broody about 11 (or so) days ago. I have no rooster, so I promptly came to BYC to find some local BYCers with available eggs. Two were kind enough to give this newbie a total of 13 eggs to try and have her hatch out. I was excited, and I think Rudy (my broody) was excited that for once I was putting the eggs under her instead of taking them away.

    I put the eggs under her on Friday afternoon after I received them. She seemed quite content. Her current setup was a regular nesting box in the corner, under the light (which she chose). I added small dishes for water & food. She has steadily been drinking and eating (especially treats) so I figured this whole broody hen thing would be easy. Not to mention I was already counting how many chicks I would hopefully end up with.

    So my girls are free range, though they do have a run attached to their coop in case Daddy decides he doesn't want chicken poop on the lawn or in the driveway. And generally I close the girls in around 10 or 10:30 at night.

    The Story: Last night I got home a little after 11 and went to close the girls in. Their timed light was already off so I only had a flashlight. First things first, I did a headcount of the roosting girls and all were accounted for. I went to shut the pop door and when I looked in the coop I realized that one of the nesting boxes was tipped over and in the middle of the coop. They've tipped them before, but never been able to move them to a new location! Around the box were fluffy red feathers and my heart dropped a little. I looked over to Rudy's nesting box and she was gone! The first time she had been off that box in 2 weeks! What's worse was there were borken cracked laying eggs lying in and around her box. I shut the pop door, locked the coop and went outside to investigate. There was no blood, no other feathers (which I was hoping were just the feathers she had been losing since she went broody), but there were more egg shells outside around the run. I looked everywhere for signs of her, hoping maybe she wandered out and fell asleep...nothing. I went inside for the night, called my husband at work and told him he was making me an incubator so that I could hopefully rescue the remaining potential chicks.

    This morning I went out to check on the rest of my girls and salvage the eggs that weren't destroyed from the previous nights happenings. To my absolute shock and amazement, there was Rudy. Perched on the step outside of the run just as calm as could be. She looked at me with that, "Where have you been? I can't get inside" look so I immediately opened the pop door and in she went. She hoped up on the roost with her sisters and my first thought was, "Great, she left because she's not broody anymore and I got these eggs for nothing!" Next thing I know she hops down to the box, rolls around the eggs, and sits right down on them as if nothing had ever happened.

    The Lesson Learned: Don't count your eggs before they hatch & design some sort of mama hen containment fixture (which my husband is doing at this moment).

    The Question: Has anyone else ever had a broody hen that left her box overnight, or is mine just one of those "special" chickens you hear so much about!? My husband suspects a racoon came in the coop and tried to go for the eggs. She, obviously, wasn't going to give them up easy. Our first thought was that she got dragged out and killed, but we've been proven wrong on that theory. So now my husband thinks that the racoon grabbed a few eggs and she chased him out of the coop and out into the woods. I looked around last night but could not see nor hear her anywhere.

    Yes, she's going to get confined to her own broody box within the coop so she can't leave again. I'm not overly concerned about the eggs at this point, as I'm just glad she's safe. I've done a little research and being off the nest for 9-12 hours (while not ideal) doesn't mean the eggs won't hatch. IF they do hatch though, expect to see pictures in about 2 1/2 weeks!
     
  2. 92caddy

    92caddy Egg Lover

    May 18, 2007
    Portland, IN
    I have had hens leave the eggs for 2 days before I noticed and I put the eggs under another hen and they ALL hatched!
     
  3. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    She ran for her life. You had a predator in the nest. She returned as soon as she thought it was safe. I'm pretty sure she didn't just up and walk - maybe she was already up for food and water and that saved her life.

    Be sure you check her over for injuries very carefully.
     
  4. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    Quote:I figured it had to be something...because I can't get her to budge off those eggs, unless I physically pick her up and remove her. She seemed to be fine, and even jumped up on the roost and than sat back down on the nest. I petted her over and she seems fine - but I will definately keep a close eye on her.

    Did the other girls on the roost feel safe up there? Any reason she ran out of the coop & the run while the rest of her sisters stayed on their roost? Just curious why the different "survival strategies".
     
  5. klf73

    klf73 Mad Scientist

    Jun 1, 2008
    Maine
    doubt it was a raccoon, I think the raccoon would have grabbed her as an easy meal instead of the eggs. I had a skunk do the same thing, feathers, shells, etc, but I heard the commotion and caught him in the act and scared him away. She didn't have a scratch on her and I know he is still hanging around cuz I keep finding shells from the eggs the girls are trying to lay around the property. If you need more eggs let me know [​IMG]
     
  6. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 27, 2009
    I'd bet it was a skunk also! I have never had one but my friend did and she said the chickens would be sitting up on the roost when the skunk would waltz in as if she owned the place and eat a few eggs and then saunter off as happy as could be. She found out because one day she came home from work early and caught her in the coop. The skunk saw my friend watching and didn't bat an eye, just kept on eating until she'd had enough then slowly walked off! The chickens didn't do a thing but I imagine if a hen was sitting on eggs and a skunk came in it would be a different story.

    I am subscribing to this topic so I can see your pictures in two and a half weeks! Good luck! [​IMG]
    CJ
     
  7. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    Quote:Quote:Ah ha! Entitled skunks looking for a buffet! That must be it! I haven't seen (or smelled, thankfully) any around this year, but we did have a few around last year so that must be it.

    Krista - I'll let you know if I need more eggs!! Out of the 6 she's got left it looks like there might be 4 that could make it, maybe 5 but I can't tell for sure yet. 3 of the Marans cross and maybe one of the Araucana (that's the the one I'm really not sure about) and the Bantam Brahma that Hoppy gave me. If these don't work though, I've got those BO chicks coming in June that I'm gonna stick under her so maybe she'll think she was successful this time around. If she goes broody again after that though - I will definately be giving you a call!!

    Thanks CJ, I've got my fingers crossed that I at least get a couple chicks...I was so looking forward to these crosses that klf73 has been working on!
     
  8. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    Now I'm just getting paranoid.

    Last night when I went to close the girls in, and this morning when I went to let the girls out, Rudy got off her eggs both times to join her sisters in the corner of the pen. It's as if she's really spooked and thinks I'm going to attack her. I'm afraid she's getting in the habit of getting off the eggs and will end up leaving them. Both times I've gone in the coop, picked her up, set her on the nestbox and then walk out and wait just outside. She looks and then ends up settling back on the eggs while her sisters head out.

    Has anyone had a broody that's been through a similar incident? Is she just spooked because of what happened and will eventually calm back down? Up until that point you could not get that hen off those eggs for all the strawberries in the world! (Those happen to be her favorite.) I feel like she'll be okay because she does get back on the eggs if I put her on the nestbox, but I'm worried at how flighty she's become. Am I just being overly crazy and need to give her a few days to settle down?
     
  9. klf73

    klf73 Mad Scientist

    Jun 1, 2008
    Maine
    unfortunately she sounds like mine. She went back in the morning but when the other girls came out she went with them. She would go back but wouldn't stay. I took the eggs and threw them in the bator. I only lost 1 as it was in the 30's that night she was off them. You need to decide if you want to incubate them, and if so, you would probably have to brood them etc. You can wait and hope she changes her mind but I didn't have any luck with mine. I think another option might be, if you don't want to lose them is to toss them in the bator and leave some other eggs(the infertile ones would work great then you don't have to worry about being later in development) and see if she start to sets again. If she does then I would switch the eggs back at night when it gets closer to hatch.
    Another option is if you just want the chicks I could throw some in the bator since it's still going, but again, if she isn't broody you will have to take care of them.

    hope she goes back and plants her butt for you [​IMG]

    eta- yeah, I would give her a few days to settle down. Mine was flighty after but oddly enough she started following me around a few days later, even hopped in my truck with me [​IMG] and she would have NEVER done that before
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  10. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    I went to check on her and she's still on the eggs. I'll keep checking periodically. Keep your fingers crossed!

    It's actually pretty funny because one of the older girls (who is the only survivor from a big attack last year) is sitting in front of her box - just laying on the floor with their heads together as if they're just hanging out and talking. My husband thinks that she's counseling the broody one and explaining that she's been through something like this before and it will all be okay! [​IMG] (And he claims he doesn't even like my hens!)
     

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