How long can a broody hen stay on the nest without food or water

elcarchick

In the Brooder
May 12, 2015
34
4
29
Brevard, NC
I have a young broody hen (her first time, she is about 9-10 months old, and my first time, I've had chickens for less than a year) who seems to be taking her job so seriously that I have not seen her leaving the nest. Today will be her 4th day. She has a separate area with water and food just a couple of feet away from the nest within her sight. I smoothed over the surface in the feed container to see if there is any disturbance but it doesn't look that she's even attempted to eat. I don't see any poop there either. Everywhere I have searched people recommend getting the hen off the nest if she doesn't want to leave. I find it hard to believe that nature can be so dumb that a hen will just die on the nest unless she is encouraged to leave. What about all those hens who find a secret spot for their nest and you don't even know about it until she comes back with her chicks? Does anyone know from experience how long a hen can stay on the nest without food, water or pooping? Is it necessary to remove her to make her eat and drink and how often? I do not want to interfere with the natural process, yet at the same time I am worried about my hen and want to be sure that she is not hurt in any way. I'll appreciate any advice.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,845
1,215
522
central Ohio
She won't die from starvation or lack of water, believe me. Nature will take care of her. If you try to take her off to make her eat and drink, chances are she won't anyway. Sometimes they stay on the nest for a long time, (days) but it's ok. Relax and enjoy! Good luck and welcome to BYC.
welcome-byc.gif
 

elcarchick

In the Brooder
May 12, 2015
34
4
29
Brevard, NC
Thanks chicknmania!

Day 5, and I couldn't take it anymore. I lifted her from the nest by her back feathers and deposited right outside near food and water. She was mad at me, but once I put water right in front of her she was drinking like crazy and within 5 minutes deposited that ginormous poop that everyone talks about lol. I left her for about 10 min, she drank a lot, I don't think she ate much, I only see maybe a couple of pecks gone and didn't do anything else that other people say she should do, like stretching her legs or taking a dust bath (though she looks like she could use one). In no time at all she was back on her nest. I'll leave her alone for another 5 days or so. Hopefully she'll start coming out on her own. She is pretty dedicated to her duties.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,845
1,215
522
central Ohio
She will.
smile.png
Sometimes the inexperienced ones take it a bit too far. A long time ago I did find a Silkie dead on her nest. That was when we first got chickens, almost ten years ago, and we didn't know much at that time. So she could have died from anything. I don't remember how long she was on her nest, if I even knew back then. But we've had lots of dedicated broodies since then, and they all get off to go eat, drink, sunbathe, stretch, dust, and poop....sooner or later.
 

elcarchick

In the Brooder
May 12, 2015
34
4
29
Brevard, NC
Well, we crossed the finish line yesterday, hurray!!! My hen hatched 8 out of 9 eggs and she is a proud momma now. During all this time I had to pull her off the nest every 3-4 days, she would eat very little, would refuse to drink at all, never dust bathed, she was really stinking by the end. Fortunately, it all seemed to have worked out in the end, though I do not know if she would have been just as fine without my interference.

Here is a picture of my new momma with some of her babies.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,845
1,215
522
central Ohio
She probably would have been fine, but congrats! She does look proud, and such cute little ones! We have four broodies co-mothering on two nests. The first nest failed, and I'm going to have to pull theone broody off, because she stinks too and those eggs are not going to hatch. The other broody on that nest gave up a few days ago, and went back to join the flock. I'll have to pen the other one up for a couple of days. The other nest was due yesterday, and no signs of anything yet....
hmm.png
..both new mamas on that one, and I'm not messing with one of them, she's a Jersey Giant and she's not kidding when she says get away from her eggs, lol.
big_smile.png
The other one on that nest is an Ameracauna, and I was really hoping theirs might hatch..
 

elcarchick

In the Brooder
May 12, 2015
34
4
29
Brevard, NC
So sorry to hear about the failed nest. I hope the second nest will come through. You have a lot of hens going broody :) I hope this will be it for me this summer since I didn't expect any broodies this year and got some laying hen chicks from a hatchery. Now my little hobby is ballooning out of control LOL, though I was warned about this kind of possibility when I first got my 7 hens and a roo just last fall. If everything goes well I may have close to 30 hens and haven't decided yet how many roos, which will most likely increase the number of broodies next summer.
 

chicknmania

Free Ranging
14 Years
Jan 26, 2007
5,845
1,215
522
central Ohio
yes, it becomes a problem. But somehow, our flock has stayed right around fifty birds, knock on wood. I have rehomed several roos though, and sold a few pullets once in a while. Thank you for the well wishes.
smile.png
I'm sure they'll make up for it, sooner or later, lol. Have fun with your babies.
big_smile.png
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom