Hen sitting on eggs in hayfield! Help!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by riverviewfarms, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. riverviewfarms

    riverviewfarms Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello! First time poster, new chicken farmer. Have only had my chickens for about 1.5 years. We have a beautiful big coop that our hens return to at night but during the day we let them free range. About 2 months ago 2 of our 4 hens started laying outside, when the whole year previous they laid in their nest box. About 3 weeks ago one hen went "missing" along with her eggs. I know she is sitting on them out in our hayfield because about once a day we see her run to the coop to eat and drink them run back to the hayfield. They have got to be getting ready to hatch AND our hay is about to be cut. What do I do?! How do we move her and them? Can I put her in the coop or will the other 3 hens peck the babies (if they even survive)?!
     
  2. tinakevin

    tinakevin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When my rir had babies I put her and the babies in a dog crate. The plastic type. She was fine with that. But I did have to move her to a separate area because the other hens did try to go after them.
     
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  3. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well it sounds like your hen has gone Broody. She is trying to hatch herself some chicks. There is a wealth of information on this site about how to deal with this situation but I can summarize for you.

    1. Give her a new nest with fertile eggs to hatch that is segregated from the rest of the flock.

    2. Take away all her eggs and prevent her from reaching that nesting spot and make sure she has to stay on the move throughout the day.

    Please feel free to get more educated on broodiness on one of the many in depth threads here on BYC. Best Wishes.
     
  4. riverviewfarms

    riverviewfarms Out Of The Brooder

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  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Hi

    If you have a rooster and her eggs are likely to be fertile and she has not been roosting in the hen house for about 3 weeks then I would suggest you put haymaking on hold for a few more days until she brings the chicks out of the hayfield. She will almost certainly bring them back to your coop for feeding since that is where she has been coming to feed herself. There should be no integration problems because she has maintained a connection with your other birds by coming to feed each day, even if it has just been for a few minutes. The fact that your flock free ranges also means that they are even less likely to be aggressive.
    I allow my broodies to bring their chicks up within the flock and don't have any problems....45 broody hatched and reared chicks so far this year and mine free range.

    If her eggs are unlikely to be fertile, then I would suggest following her into the hay field after she has eaten for the day and locate her nest. Place a coloured marker near it, so that you can find it later and go out at dust when she is unlikely to run off and collect her and bring her into the coop and keep her locked in a broody buster for a couple of days whilst you make hay.

    Good luck either way.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
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  6. riverviewfarms

    riverviewfarms Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much Barbara!! This is fantastic info. We DID have a rooster up until 10 days ago so it is very likely that the eggs she is sitting on are indeed fertilized. That was what I was wondering...how would they eat if she kept them out there! Great to know she will likely lead them back. Thank you thank you!
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    She will probably marshal them back to the coop a couple of days after hatch, when they are mobile enough to follow her. She won't keep them out there any longer than necessary because they will need to eat. It might be worth following her into the field at the next opportunity to see how many eggs she has and if any are hatching yet. You might also want to stock up on a bag of chick crumb, although you could feed them scrambled eggs and breadcrumbs for a couple of days in an emergency. It's a wonderful sight seeing a broody hen come proudly trooping back into the yard with a line of chicks in tow!

    Of course if her eggs are not fertile she might sit for an extra week or two before giving up, which is why I suggest following her to locate her nest. Of course, if you don't see her for a couple of days, it could be that they are hatching and she can't leave the nest. I would doubt that she will be very far into the field though, probably no more than a few yards.

    Please update this thread as the situation unfolds and would love to see photos as and when they make an appearance. What breed is she and what was the roo? Hope he didn't fall victim to a predator, as she will be vulnerable when the chicks start hatching.... they can be noisy little oiks!
     
  8. browning6

    browning6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had several hens do similar things. If you make a nesting box out of a cardboard box with a bunch of straw in the bottom and then charge her into the crate or a small coop you will know in a few minutes if she has decided to stay broody on the new nest. I have had some hens snub me and refuse to sit on the eggs.

    As far as the other hens attacking the chicks. My hens that are raising chicks run the coop. they dont tolerate anybody, rooster or hen close to the chicks or there is a serious fight. so the other hens typically stay away for the most part.



    I hope you hatch a bunch of chicks out of this situation. new chicks are always fun.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
  9. riverviewfarms

    riverviewfarms Out Of The Brooder

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    The chicks have hatched!!!! Maybe last night! They are peeping and all dry and cute! Mama is still in the hayfield with them. I am worried about her being so vulnerable. Should I move her and them to the coop? Or leave them be? Looks to be at least 8 chicks! I could also put her and them in a dog crate with food and water. But she looks like she will be ****** if I get too close. Sh loud I bring her water at least?
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    The chicks are pretty easy to catch when they are first hatched, so you could go out there with a fine mesh crate and put the chicks in it so that she can still see them and use them to lure her slowly back to the coop. They will cheep for her at the top of their voices. If you feel they are at risk, then that might be the best bet. Be prepared to do battle with her though.... wear gloves and long sleeves.... because she will not be happy about you handling/taking her chicks.

    Alternatively, leave her to it and she will bring them in when they need it. The chicks will live off their yolk sac for the first day or two, so don't worry about that. If you take water or food out to her, she will most likely stay out there longer.

    Congrats and good luck on getting them back to the coop whichever way you decide to do it.

    Oh and please post some photos.... I love to see photos of broodies and babies.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
    1 person likes this.

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