1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Help with my broody hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by DarkhorseFarmer, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. DarkhorseFarmer

    DarkhorseFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    48
    0
    34
    May 11, 2015
    Hampton, MN
    I have had a broody hen for quite some time, weeks probably. At first I kept taking the eggs from under her each day, and moved her up to the roosting bars at night and run during the day. However, she would not break. So yesterday I finally quit trying. She had 8 eggs under her and I left them, today I checked again, and she had 15. I've raised chicks myself, but never let a hen brood them. Any advice is appreciated. Do I leave her in there with everyone else? Should I put food and water by her? If she hatches the eggs, will the other chickens be ok, or peck them to pieces? She has been broody for so long that she has gotten smaller and other hens have not seen her. Because of this she is pretty much bottom of the pecking order and I'm not sure that she could protect the chicks. What do you guys advise? I don't really have a separate room for her to raise the chicks, and it's starting to get cooler here in MN.

    The picture below is showing the 10x10 layout of my coop and the eggs she was laying on. I took her out to get food and water.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,151
    10,464
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Based on my limited experience - here goes:

    You would need to mark the original eggs and remove the others on a daily basis. The fact that other hens are laying in the same nest is not necessarily an ideal situation. Do you have a cat / small dog carrier - if so that might be a better place to put her and her eggs (I use large plastic basins as my nests, so it does not need to be elaborate - just something that your hens do not see as their usual nest). Even a cardboard box, raised off the ground a little would be fine.

    No need to put food and water by her - she needs to get off the nest usually on a daily basis and a bit of a "leg stretch" whilst getting food and water is no bad thing.

    I live in Kenya where its always warm so i cannot advise on temperatures and raising chicks.

    Do you have a covered run or does your flock free range? If you have a run then separating a little of this off (for the mother and little ones may be worth considering). I built a mini coop out of pvc tubing and chicken wire which is portable, so the chicks and mother can be outside, but safe from predators but be out with the rest of the flock (they free range).

    As long as there is a lot of space, its unlikely that your other hens will peck the living daylights out of the chicks.

    More experienced BYC members have had success with subordinate hens raising chicks (I use my alpha hen for that business) so that may not be an issue.

    I hope that i have answered some of your questions, but i hesitate to advise. Maybe see what other members suggest to help you in your decision.

    Good luck
    CT
     
  3. DarkhorseFarmer

    DarkhorseFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    48
    0
    34
    May 11, 2015
    Hampton, MN
    What would you use to mark the egg? Sharpie, paint? So it sounds like putting her in a box with the eggs would be best so other hens don't lay eggs in there..
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,151
    10,464
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I use a pencil. Yep, as she is subordinate, the other hens are either forcing her off the nest (not good for incubation) so she needs to be in a "new" nest that the others don't recognise as their usual nests.

    CT
     
  5. DarkhorseFarmer

    DarkhorseFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    48
    0
    34
    May 11, 2015
    Hampton, MN
    And the eggs should hatch in 21 days? How often do I need to candle them to see if they're fertilized?
     
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,151
    10,464
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    yep to 21 days. Personally i don't bother with candling etc - i just let the hen get on with it.
     
  7. DarkhorseFarmer

    DarkhorseFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    48
    0
    34
    May 11, 2015
    Hampton, MN
    Would you suggest leaving them in a box until they hatch, and then taking them all out? Otherwise how will the chicks get out? They wouldn't really need to if I put a chick feeder and water in with them I guess.
     
  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,797
    953
    223
    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi

    I have a large mixed flock including several cockerels that free range. So far I've had 4 hens go broody and rear chicks, some multiple times all within the flock and even the low ranking broodies have managed to defend their chicks or keep them out of the way of more dominant hens (I've never had a problem with cockerels bothering the chicks and only very rarely scuffles with hens) though I do think not being penned in means that the other hens have space to go off foraging and therefore don't get frustrated and look for trouble.

    I keep an old sideboard in the hen house that I have modified for use as a brooder or infirmary depending on requirements. I lock the broody in so that she cannot be disturbed by the other hens and let her out once a day to relieve herself and stretch her legs. The broody nest is quite dark which they like and when I open the door, the light seems to stimulate them to get up and take a break and get something to eat. I close the door whilst they are out so that other hens can't lay in their nest. I do chores whilst she is out so that I can supervise her break and then after 15-20 mins, when she heads back towards the hen house, I open the brooder door and she climbs back on the nest and I shut her back in. The first few days she sometimes goes for the wrong nest, especially if I have initially moved her nest but if you make sure all the other nest boxes are empty, she will select the correct one with all the eggs in. This way she still has some contact and interaction with the rest of the flock on a daily basis but gets the peace and quiet of a safe place whilst she broods. I do put food and water in the sideboard with her, just so that she has it there if she wants it as they do lose condition brooding and low ranking hens have a harder time getting the necessary food in the short space of time they are active each day.

    With your set up, you could easily barricade her into that corner where she already has her nest. and just let her out once a day like I do. You could place a removable grill or mesh across the front and I would also fix a cover over the top as they prefer to be in a dark secure place and it would stop the other hens possibly climbing in from above.

    Once the chicks have all hatched she may wish to leave the nest site with them anyway. Mites and such can build up in a broody nest, so they often like to move the chicks from it as soon as they are able. She will probably find a safe place somewhere else on the coop floor but you could move her to a small cage in there for a few days until the chicks are fully mobile and the other hens can get used to them.

    I wouldn't give her more than 8 eggs for a first time especially at this time of year. Good luck with her. The only real worry I think is that if she has already been broody for so long, she might give up before the chicks hatch.

    Watching a broody rear chicks is the best chicken TV ever. I highly recommend it.

    Regards

    Barbara

    PS. I find it a good idea to dust the broody nest with DE for mites before I set the eggs as the constant warmth from the broody can attract them.

    PPS. Be warned....Broody poop absolutely honks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,151
    10,464
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Agreed! They need to be out of the nest and in some kind of mini-coop the day they are all hatched. I made a couple out of pvc tubing and chicken wire, which are portable so i can move the outside during the day (not today though, its 5.40am) and raining cats and dogs!
    CT
     
  10. DarkhorseFarmer

    DarkhorseFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    48
    0
    34
    May 11, 2015
    Hampton, MN
    How long after they hatch should I leave them in the mini coop? Would you leave them in there with there mother, or put a heat lamp on them? I don't have feelings either way, I just want to break this broody hen and need more chickens anyways.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by