Help for broody hen before we are ready!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by savingdogs, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    So we (chicken newbies) have our first broody hen, who has been sitting on a golf ball and a sand filled plastic egg for over a week. Her comb is very pale. She does get off the nest but just very occasionally that we have seen. She seems okay and we have seen her eating but not laying.

    We want to have chicks, but currently have one big coop and one big yard for our 17 pullets and one roo. We were going to make a chicken tractor so as to have a place for the chicks and broody hen should we get one in the spring.

    I have lots of fertile eggs I could put under her however, how fancy do their temporary quarters have to be? I have extra dog crates but no real enclosure for the young chicks to grow enough to feather out.
    Would my other chickens peck the chicks to death, is that what happens if they don't have their own area? What happened in the old days of the barnyard?

    Do I put hatching eggs under her now or after I move her? Leave her on her fake ones for awhile but maybe add a few each day? I really want to avoid having chicks in the house again, do they have to be indoors? If they are with their mom do they need to be 100 degrees for the first week, etc, like when you have them in a brooder?

    If I can't arrange a chick area for her, what would be the best way of discouraging her to stop this now but feel like it later? We were actually happy we have a broody BO. I wanted to hatch out some ducklings too in the spring.
  2. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    How cold do you get there? Some flocks are fine with chicks, especially since good broodys are VERY protective mamas (old days..tough mamas raised their flock and kicked behinds if someone got too close!). I would move her first before putting eggs under her. I moved a hen once 10 days into it and she abandoned the nest. [​IMG] The quarters don't need to be fancy...enough room for mom and the chicks to wander around (10 sf minimum...a little more is better) and housing to keep her and her babies plenty warm. She will keep them warm under her wings, but it needs to be comfortable for her. When out and about, they know where mama's warm wing pits are! [​IMG] If you want her to wait, put her in a dog crate or a metal hutch without bedding. After a few days of no bedding, she will be tired of a cold abdomen and should break her broodiness. Don't worry, she should become broody again later on.
  3. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    The cold isn't usually a problem - if she's running hot enough to hatch the eggs, she'll keep the new chicks plenty warm.

    The dog crate is perfect. I'd move her and her fake nest to the dog crate right away (do it at night) and see if she still sits tight on her fake eggs. Sometimes moving them will break their broodiness. If she stays on the fake eggs for another day or two, then give her some fertile eggs. Give them all at once, so they'll hatch all at once. No more than a dozen, but I'd do more like 6 or 8, just so she keeps them all well covered in these cold temps.

    Congrats on your first broody! I love broody hens!
  4. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    Put eggs under her.She will protect them from other chickens & weather. They can stay with her until they can fehd for themselves.
  5. cook_kaka_ook

    cook_kaka_ook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 29, 2009
    She might abandon the eggs if you will start her with the real fertile eggs now. If I were in your shoes I'd rather wait for another hen to become broody and let her sit on the eggs from day1.
  6. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Quote:They don't give up after 3 weeks. With my Silkies they keep going until something hatches - even if it takes 3 months. It really depends on the hen. All you can do is let her try and hope for the best.
  7. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks! I'm going to try putting her in an empty dog crate (except food and water of course) and see if we can break her broodiness for now. We don't have the right situation for the chicks yet so we best hold off.

    Thanks for all your advice. I think I'll wait until the next time around when the chicks will be hatching closer to spring. We live in a cold and rainy climate, sometimes snowing and freezing temps. I'd hate to lose cute little babies.

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