Hen wont leave nest, no eggs.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kolvir, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Kolvir

    Kolvir New Egg

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    Oct 7, 2014
    Iowa
    I have a Jersey Black hen that spends all of her time in the nesting box, yet she rarely has an egg. If I force her out she seems to walk around fine, but will hop back in the box fairly quickly. Been going on for a few weeks.

    I've checked her over and she doesn't seem egg bound, but I am going to explore that more to be sure.

    I noticed today that her breast and belly feathers are gone, but they aren't pilled up in the nest.

    Any ideas for this behavior? I grew concerned after noticing the feather loss.
     
  2. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I believe you have a broody hen! She will sit there for weeks, even with no eggs. The pulling of feathers is her way of getting that belly and breast ready to have skin on eggs to keep them warm.

    She will be fine, you could put a few eggs (fertilized) under her or just keep removing her until she breaks (the brood). She wants to be a chicken mom. They typically do not lay during the broody time. There are tons of posts about making a hen not broody, or you could wait it out, eventually she will give up.
     
  3. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Only put the fertilized eggs under her if you wish her to hatch out eggs, and if you decide to do that it is a treat in chicken raising indeed. It takes 3 weeks of sitting to hatch. It is awesome to watch instinct take over. I have often waited a few weeks before giving mine eggs, but have still had them sit the total 3 more weeks to hatch. Some breeds more prone to going broody than others. I have had non broody breeds go broody, others never want to sit at all. Hope this helps. The pulling of feathers is very common.
     
  4. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    As mentioned those, including the feather picking are the distinct signs of being broody. Depending on where you are it's probably not the best weather/time of year to be hatching chicks so to "break" her from this behaviour you need to make sure she can't get on the nest 24hrs per day for 3-4 days till she then shows no more interest. If you let her sleep in it, or keep going back in when you pull her off it can go on for months with them getting skinnier and skinnier because there are never any babies to signal to her it's time to stop. It has got to be zero nest access 24 hrs per day. Doesn't really matter how you keep her off or where you put her. We just run some plastic wire on tomato stakes at one end of our run during the day and lock our nest box when we let her in the coop at night.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Yep, sounds like she's broody.

    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]
     
  6. Kolvir

    Kolvir New Egg

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    Oct 7, 2014
    Iowa
    That cage in the coop might work. I wouldn't mind a few more birds, I lost two to raccoons last year, but it is so cold right now I doubt they'd survive. The birds aren't getting out into the yard much at all this week because of the temps.

    I kicked her out of the nest today and made her run outside for a few minutes and she ate some scratch with the others and hadn't hopped back into the nest when I left. Not supposed to break zero degrees tomorrow.

    I would have thought it would have been one of my Orpingtons going broody, not the Jersey.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  7. toconnor318

    toconnor318 New Egg

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    Jan 14, 2016
    Hampden, MA
    I have a broody Australorp who's been on the nest for a week now. I have a 20 week old RI Red rooster. I assumed that she went broody because the eggs were fertile. As I have read, that is not always the case. She had 20 eggs under her. I held them all under a flashlight but didn't notice any embryos. It is difficult because of the brown eggs of an Australorp and the green eggs of my EE's. They aren't very transparent. How do you tell if an egg has been fertilized without breaking them open? I cooked four of the 20 she was laying on and did not notice any bullseye. The rooster hasn't been leaving the coop much either. They generally roam free.
     

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