Hen staying in nest box all day - leave her be? Advice please!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jonalisa, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

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    My 22 week old buff orpington, Maisie, only started laying on or about Sept. 14th. I have 4 that just started laying, so not quite sure how regular she is. I get 2 to 4 eggs a day.
    I noticed yesterday she was in the nest box around 9am, then kept checking and she was still there at 1pm. I shooed her out and saw she was sitting on all 4 eggs.
    Today, I went out there about 9am and she was in the nest box. It is almost 4:30 and she is still in there! I have checked on her several times and took her out once to have water and food, but she went right back in. I checked and there are no eggs in the nest box. Yet she insists on sitting in there.

    I'm assuming she's too new at egg laying to be broody...am I wrong? Should I be more concerned that she is having trouble laying? She's so new at it, that I thought it would be normal to be laying inconsistently.

    So my question is...leave her be or pull her out of the nest? Should I be doing something to make sure she's okay?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    She sure sounds broody to me. If it were me, I'd give her some eggs and let her sit. Attempts to break them from being broody rarely work permanently but letting them sit and hatch always does the trick [​IMG]
     
  3. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    While it is common in older birds, 23 weeks is not too young to go broody, especially for really broody breeds like Orpingtons and Silkies. So, that could certainly be what is going on with her. Does she puff herself up at all or make "growling" noises when you try to reach beneath her in the nest? If so, then you can conclude she is broody.

    If she doesn't display that behavior, she could still be broody, or something else is wrong. I would be most concerned about her being egg bound since she is a young hen whose reproductive tract may not yet be up to speed. To check for a stuck egg, you could try feeling externally on her abdomen for hard lumps. A better way to check, though, would be lubricating a gloved finger and sticking it into her vent to feel around.
     
  4. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    She could very well be broody. I've had birds around 5 and 1/2 months old go broody before. If she isn't acting sick otherwise, it is probably broodiness.

    If you don't want to hatch eggs (and want egg production to come back), I advice trying to "break" her of her broodiness. Here are some links with tips on doing that:

    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com/2012/01/so-youve-got-broody-hen.html
    http://www.gardenbetty.com/2014/06/how-to-break-a-broody-hen/
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  5. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

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    Thanks, BantamLover and HE Chicken.
    Well, I went out again about 40 min after I posted and she was sitting on an egg - so she finally did lay. And YES, she did ruffle her feathers and growl a bit when I tried to reach under her. I had no idea she could be broody so soon! I took her out at 6pm to free range with the others, and once she got out there, she was happy to be out and running around. Alas, she was the first to go in and immediately went into the nest. I took her out and put her on the roost, but I don't know if she'll stay there.

    The thing is - we don't have a rooster. So if I let her sit on eggs that will never hatch...well, what will that do?
    Is it best to let her do what she wants with no eggs or get her some fake eggs or something else?
    (I am not concerned about the eggs, I'd rather she be happy.)

    Thanks!
     
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Agatha (otherwise known as Atilla the Hen right now) is not much older than yours and she is sitting on 15 hatching eggs at the moment. It's not at all unheard of for a Buff Orpington to go broody soon after laying. The question would be, is she ready to stick to it? If she doesn't roost with the others at night but stays on the nest, she's getting there! Agatha is an Easter Egger, and from what I've read and been told they don't go broody as early as Buff Orpingtons or some of the other varieties. Um, she didn't read that chapter in the book. She's been stuck tight to her nest since there was nothing in it but a wooden egg, she growls, bites, and fluffs up at the least disturbance. Now I'm learning where the expression "old biddy" comes from when talking about someone with a grouchy personality. I always thought it referred to an older, top-of-the-pecking-order hen. Nope, it can also be a very young, but very determined, young pullet too!

    I'd be more concerned about yours being egg bound if her posture and gait was "off" and if she acted lethargic and miserable, but then I freely and readily admit I'm rather new to all of this myself. But I think that what you describe sounds more like broodiness than a physical ailment. I agree with HEChicken....get her a few eggs to try. You can try putting some dummy eggs (wooden or ceramic - even sand-filled and glued shut plastic eggs) to see how ready she is. Good luck!
     
  7. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

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    Thanks all, it helps to hear others' experiences.
    She did lay today and has been laying, so I don't think now that being egg-bound is a concern.
    I am not in a position to have more chickens, so I am not interested in getting any fertilized eggs for her to sit on.
    I'm not worried about egg production either, so not sure I want to "force" her to stop. But I want to understand what she needs and how I can help her through it.
    Does that make sense?
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  8. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Before I had a rooster, when a hen went broody, I would look at my local Craigslist. One time I placed my own ad looking for fertile eggs and got several responses. Another time I just contacted anyone advertising eating eggs for sale and asked if the eggs were likely to be fertile. I also didn't have trouble finding fertile eggs that way. The first time I gave the hen a dozen eggs and got 7 chicks. The second time I gave the hen only 4 eggs and got 2 chicks.
     
  9. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

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    I have 9 now and not looking to raise anymore at the moment. Just want to know what she needs to get through it.
     
  10. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    If you have no interest in hatching then the best thing is to 'break' your broody. When sitting on eggs they barely eat and can loose weight and condition. I also find one hogging seems to set off a chain reaction and the others start staying in the nest more too, I'm sure just because they don't want to be outdone lol. But it's Not worth her going through that starvation diet for a month or even longer if there is nothing going to hatch. Without anything to hatch they will also just keep sitting and sitting and starving and starving way past when Mother Nature planned.

    There are a million ways you will find on here to break a broody but they all boil down to the one basic rule. You cannot allow he on the nest for three or four days. This includes at nighttime. How you achieve that doesn't seem to matter. Some use a tiny cage, we use a 1.5 metre square fenced area and both work because they both stop them getting on the nest. But you have to stop her 24hrs a day or it will not work.

    The good news is I found when I had one go broody early like yours she got over is quicker.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014

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