Helping my Broody Become a Real Chicken Again~

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by yeye5, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. yeye5

    yeye5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 11, 2016
    North East Florida
    Mima has worked hard thru Feb and March--an amazingly long time. She insisted.
    She began brooding very early this season in late Feb due to unusually warm weather. For whatever reason her eggs did poorly. Unbeknownst to me as Mima selected out the quitters (she is reliable doing this and whenever she pushes an egg out of the nest it is either unfertilized or a quitter, she's never been wrong) the pile of eggs did not appear to be smaller. I thought it was just a trick of my mind.
    It ends up that her daughters had just started laying exactly at that time and were adding their eggs to her brooding nest. Once I figured that out I section off the area she was in so that stopped. Mima however knew that there were viable eggs still under her. At 4 weeks 2 days, one hatched, 3 days later 2 more hatched. Mima let me know she was done bcs she lost interest in th eeggs and began caring for the chicks.
    THEN we had a surprise winter week with freezing temperatures at night. We (Mima and I) lost the 3 chicks. I'm sure many factors played into it and the temperatures just added to the mess.

    Mima was devastated, depressed, wouldn't eat etc. I bought her some chicks at the feed store. She was delighted and became her normal broody self again.

    Fast forward (sorry this post is getting so long): This week temps have been back in the 80's. It's warm enough that when I do the 3-4X/day nest maintenance (food and water dishes cleaned, replaced food/water etc) I've placed Mima on the ground floor with her pullet daughters and Roo husband, so she can excersize and eat adult food and treats (she's lost weight in this long brood). She is so focused on her role as mama that she had little interest in either.

    A couple of days ago I got her out of the coop, bathed her (really) since she was a muddy mess, offered her dry oats and laying pellets; yesterday I kept her in the coop but on the 2nd floor where the nest is, offered her cooked oats and dried mealworms. Not having it...
    That's the story/situation.

    * are there more tempting high calorie/weight gaining foods or treats I can try?
    *Is there anything else I could or even Should be doing to help her start acting back to normal? Or is it best to just trust the process?
    * I'm concerned that once she brings the chicks out and about they might be at risk from the adults in the coop. But this is Mima;'s home coop and she needs to stay there. The chicks will move to their own coop space when they are at the proper age--what age is that?

    I thank anyone in advance for replying! In addition to the questions I asked, Please DO give me advice on any aspect I didn't think to ask about as well! I appreciate your time.
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You really love your broody, I can tell. But you already know that you can't hurry a broody along any faster than she wishes to proceed.

    During the period when a broody is teaching her chicks to eat, she won't appear to be eating much, but she will consume enough to keep going. Foods to make it easy for a broody to teach chicks to eat are finely minced boiled egg, dry chick crumbles, and meal worms. The broody is more likely to eat these things since she knows they are the right size to feed her chicks. She is less likely to waste her time on foods the chicks can't handle.

    Since the chicks are out with the flock, they should be able to access the grit they need for proper digestion. If not, provide a nice clump of sod with green grass attached.

    It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the broody and her chicks as she introduces them to the flock. If you already know the rank in the pecking order your broody occupies, it will give you a better idea of how much clout she has in driving off any would-be chick molesters. But most broodies are respected by the others since they can be fierce protectors of their babies.
  3. yeye5

    yeye5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 11, 2016
    North East Florida
    Thanks for your informative reply.
    The chicks are in a closed off nest with Mima on the 2nd floor of the coop. The pullets and roo can get up to that 2nd floor but not into the nest. One pullet started laying behind the nest hiding her eggs there. The other 2 are laying in the laying box beside the nest box. Ground floor is for play, eating and drinking and being chickens. I put off switching the nest box to a see thru but not peck at nest, partly bcs I don't want to crampp the nest into a smaller space and partly out of sheer procrastination. I had offered Mima the mealworms and treat outside the nest so that's where I did it wrong. I thought the younger of the 2 ages of chicks would be too young still for anything other than chick feed. They do have chick grit accessible all the time. Mima eats the chicks feed when she's in the nest with them. I just wanted her to have some weight-gaining ttreats and as I said, I didn't think the 2 1/2 week olds were ready. (there are 4 of them). There are 5 others that are 2 weeks older, and the comedy is that those are light Brahma chicks so they are huge.
    Is it ok to offer mealworms in the nest with those 2 age groups? Eggs should be no problem to soft scramble and offer them. We have a nice big bunch of eggs right about now, lol.
    One interesting point: when Mima started this brood, her daughters were all below her in the pecking order and had not started laying (until Mima started sitting). During the long brood, the girls have become ladies and are developing their own pecking order. When Mima comes out and socializes with them, she is the smallest and they treat her like, "who are you?" and try to harass her. Mima is th egentlest hen ever. Instead of fighting with them for dominance she put her head in a hiding place and they leave her alone.
    Do you think that will change when she brings the chicks out? I'm worried.

    I can just see it now...Mima will say, "My baby Brahmas will kick your silkie butts!" to her daughters.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You may be over-managing the situation.
    I'd put the nest in with the flock and let mama manage her and her chicks life.
    Once the eggs are hatched and mama is off the nest with the chicks, no reason to segregate her from the flock any longer.

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