Hen that won't leave nesting box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pruettchickens, May 21, 2016.

  1. pruettchickens

    pruettchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 7, 2016
    Pike County, IL
    I have a hen that will not leave the nesting boxes, she moves around to different ones, but never has an egg under her so I don't think she is laying. I get her out and she is all fluffed up, I have to block off the little door to the coop just to get her to eat, and I haven't seen her drink. She looks like she is getting dehydrated because her comb is dry looking unlike the others. I got a syringe and made her drink just in case. She's acting normal other than that, sassy as usual. Just tries to run back to the boxes every time I set her down. Haven't noticed any picking on her, but she isn't out much at all. Does anyone know what's going on and if she will be ok?
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    She doesn't have to be laying or setting on eggs to be broody, which is what it sounds like. What breed is she? Some hens go broody at the drop of a hat. There are threads on "broody breaking" - you might want to do a search. Or you can just let her sit. I would keep water/food close, and toss her off the nest once a day or so to encourage her to eat/drink. Many broodies lose a lot of weight when they're are committed.
     
  3. pruettchickens

    pruettchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 7, 2016
    Pike County, IL
    She's a barred rock, she has lost a little weight but not much. It's been over a week now. She eats like crazy when she's out, scratches around, just doesn't act like she wants to drink.
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well she'll drink when she needs to - just keep tossing her off the nest once a day or so for encouragement...lol. My barred rock has never gone broody [​IMG]
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Be careful with syringing liquids, it's pretty easy for the liquid to go into the lungs.
    She sure sounds broody to me...is she on the nests at night too?

    You'll need to decide if you want her to hatch out some chicks, and how you will 'manage' it.
    Do you have, or can you get, some fertile eggs?
    Do you have the space needed? She may need to be separated by wire from the rest of the flock.
    Do you have a plan on what to do with the inevitable males? Rehome, butcher, keep in separate 'bachelor pad'?
    If you decide to let her hatch out some fertile eggs, this is a great thread for reference and to ask questions.
    It a long one but just start reading the first few pages, then browse thru some more at random.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/496101/broody-hen-thread

    If you don't want her to hatch out chicks, best to break her promptly.
    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.
    Water nipple bottle added after pic was taken.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    She sure sounds broody to me. She is not sick or anything like that, just broody. It can happen to any hen of any breed. Most broody hens leave the nest once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poop. Maybe take a nice dust bath. In hot weather I’ve seen broody hens off the nest twice a day for over an hour each time. In cooler weather I’ve seen a broody off the nest once a day for about fifteen minutes. I never see some broodies of the nest, but I know they are coming off because they don’t poop in the nest. I’m not watching them 24/7 but I know she is coming off the nest.

    Before a hen even starts to lay she builds up some extra fat. A lot of that is in the pelvic area (called a fat pad) but some extra fat is scattered all over. That fat is mostly what she lives off of when she is broody. The fat provides nutrients and water. It’s normal for a broody hen to lose weight while broody, but that’s just extra fat put there for that reason. That fat enables a broody hen to spend most of her time on the nest keeping the eggs warm. It doesn’t hurt to toss her off the nest a time or two a day if you wish. When I do that they normally set crouched on the floor a bit, then either run back to the nest of go outside to eat or drink.

    Yes, you need to decide what you want to do, let her hatch eggs, get some baby chicks for her to raise, or break her from being broody. Another option would be to leave her alone and let her stay broody but some can go on for months that way. I think leaving her alone until she stops on her own is worse for her and harder on her than any other option.

    I don’t know why Aart likes to work so hard and spend so much time breaking a broody hen. I also use the elevated cage method but I just put the hen in there with food and water and no place that looks like a nest for three days. I don’t let her out. She has everything she needs in that cage. Plus I have a life to live. I’m not going to spend an increasing time every day waiting for her to go back to the nest so I can put her in the cage again. I usually leave them locked in for three full days, then let them out. If they go back to the nest they get three more days. Very few go back in for the extra three days.

    Before they start laying again after being broody, they have to build that fat back up. The sooner you break her from being broody, the sooner that will be.

    Good luck!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Due to some disabilities, I do not have much of a life, thanks for reminding me [​IMG].
    No, you do not have to let them out as I did during my 2 experiences with breaking a broody,
    nor do you need to stand and wait for them to go back to the nest if you do let them out.
    I did find it highly interesting to observe their behaviors evolve during the process over those few days.
     

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