How long will a broody hen stay broody.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Bossom-hen, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Bossom-hen

    Bossom-hen Out Of The Brooder

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    My hen has been broody since 21st December. I have tried every practical way of discouraging her, she has even seen a vet as she stopped eating for a while and lost a lot of weight. Since supplementing her food 3 times a day she has started to gain back some of the weight she lost initially and so long as I disrupt her routine and shut her out of the nest box she behaves almost like a normal chicken. She does still occasionally sit if she finds somewhere she thinks will do and she has pulled all her chest feathers out. I am resigned to letting nature take it's course and am just concentrating on keeping her nutrition up. I do not care that she isn't laying but I'd quite like her old personality back. How long is this likely to go on before she gets back to normal?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    What breed is she?
    Some will return to normal, some are more stubborn.
    They may eventually abandon but they may become too weak to do so.
    If one has a hen go broody, they should decide within a week if they want chicks to hatch. If not, break the broodiness by putting them in a wire bottom cage suspended for a few days.
    A friend of mine never intervenes and had a turkey hen sitting on un-fertile eggs go broody for a couple months, eventually the hen couldn't move and
    in spite of several hundred dollar visits to the vet, force feeding, injections and physical therapy, the young hen died. That said, I never pull a broody hen off the nest to make sure she eats and drinks. They'll do so once a day unless they're defective or chicks are pipping/hatching. A hen coming off the nest voluntarily or by force, more than once a day is hard on the embryos.

    The longer a hen is broody, the more difficult it is to break them. They are disappointed because, like a pregnant woman with a miscarriage, they were planning on starting a family. Bottom line, break them early or give them fertile eggs.

    Have you isolated her in a wire bottom cage? That's how we've done it for 50 years or more. Caught early, it only takes a couple days.
    The object is to let cool air get to their bottom, which changes the hormones.
     
  3. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    In my experience, they can stay broody indefinitely. If they are very determined, you can attempt to put eggs under her or graft chicks onto her, and this will stop the broodiness. You can also try to disrupt the broodiness--putting her in with an unfamiliar flock, putting her in a pen with no nesting materials, etc. I have Silkies that went broody at 6 months old and haven't stopped... but I try to either set eggs or break the broodiness because, as you've seen, they tend to sit there and lose weight. There are stories of hens that kill themselves going broody, but it hasn't happened to any of mine yet.
     
  4. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    My truly broody ones won't just sit someplace they think will do, they always want to go back to their nest. And while off the nest they make different noises and act like broodies do. I would be worried that your hen has something else going on.

    Last year I had one hen that I used to incubate peafowl eggs, she sat from May through October, but always got off the nest to eat and drink.

    -Kathy
     
  5. Bossom-hen

    Bossom-hen Out Of The Brooder

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    I haven't suspended her in a cage, it will be my absolute last resort because I feel very uncomfortable about doing it, she is a much loved pet and she hates being away from her flock. Neither do I currently have a suitable cage. Each morning I shut her out of the hen house/nest box (they have a covered run) I then go out to take the kids to school. An hour later I return to find her nesting exactly where I placed her on the floor of the run with no food in her crop despite her being right next to the food bowl. I take her in the house, bathe her in the sink in cool water for 5 minutes and dry her bum with the hairdryer on cold setting. This gets her up and moving around like a normal chicken and she stuffs her crop full of scrambled egg. I put her in the front garden with her friends where there is nowhere to nest really and she mostly acts like a non-broody chicken except she is slightly distracted from eating and foraging although she does follow her friends about her intake is probably about one quarter of normal and if her friends sit down to rest she sometimes starts nesting alongside them (and her underbelly is cooking hot), I am usually able to disturb her when she does this and stop it by picking her up, moving her about etc. I bring her in the house twice more during the day and feed her on my lap which is helping her get her weight back up. However as soon as I open the hen house door at night time she is in there like a shot making low clucking sounds and sat like a pancake until the next morning, despite me going in later in the evening and placing her back on a perch. She is a pekin bantam so known to be a broody breed.

    I know her broodiness doesn't sound bad but it has vastly improved. Previously she just sat on imaginary eggs wherever you put her (even concrete slabs), didn't come off the nest to eat at all and tried to peck me when I came near her on the nest. She even gave herself a small prolase from sitting about but this corrected itself. This is when she saw the avian vet who agreed she was healthy but her broodiness had caused the temporary prolase and a sudden weight loss and she needed to snap out of it. She had a day in the vets being crop fed and then lived in my kitchen for a week which improved matters quite a bit. Unfortunately I cannot allow her to hatch eggs. Maybe more frequent dunkings in the cool water would help and making her roost outside the hen house overnight (as she should still be safe from predators). I don't like the idea of her being like this permanantly :( It's not a serious threat to her health I guess but it has changed her personality, and it seems a bit sad for her really. We are heading in the right direction it's just that final step I feel we need to take to get her back to normal. I wish there was an injection broodiness.
     
  6. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    While I understand most of the above story, why can't you allow her to hatch eggs?
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    A true broody hen doesn't care if she is away from her flock. That's part of the definition of being broody. IMO - you're wasting your time!!! As long as she can sit somewhere that cool air doesn't reach her underside or hatch chicks, her hormones may never change.

    We used to build makeshift cages from welded wire(hogwire) fencing and hardware cloth. If you're not comfortable with that, perhaps you could rent one. Put a dish of food and water in there and in a couple days she's back with the flock. We used to have several of them hanging from the ceiling of the hen house. With 100 hens, some were bound to be broody even though they were leghorns. We didn't have a rooster back then so there was no point to allow a broody. Not good for them or us.

    If she is a much loved pet, has been broody that long and you aren't putting fertile eggs under her, the best for her welfare is to break her from being broody.
    It can be a serious health threat. My friend with the turkey that died only had a pair of turkey hens along with her chickens and ducks. She didn't do the due diligence of animal husbandry and she was devastated for months afterward because she loved her turkeys.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
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  8. Bossom-hen

    Bossom-hen Out Of The Brooder

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    Much as I would love to I cannot allow her to hatch eggs because I cannot have roosters on my property. This is because we live in a terrraced house with only a small garden and close neighbours, I do not think I could find the roosters good homes and am vegetarian so would not want to eat them or sell them for meat. I think any chicks would not survive right now either as it's very cold here.

    Being broody is not currently a serious threat to her health because she is getting food, all be it with some extra encouragement (otherwise it would be and I am monitoring her weight carefully).

    Perhaps because I only have 3 chickens their relationships are different. If one is laying an egg all 3 will get into the nest box to keep the layer company and so I am not altogether surprised that my broody hen still wants to be with her friends. Usually when I bring her into the house to eat she will quickly eat what she wants and then stop and start making attempts to find her flock mates. I then put the rest of the food outside and she will eat some more of it when with her pals. This is why I think a broody cage would cause her distress.

    However I take on board that she must never have anywhere she can nest available, so I have tried to further ensure there is nowhere suitable by putting cold slabs on the floor of the hen house (as she tends to nest between the perches at night) and am still keeping it shut during the day. I have also removed the wood chip from the floor of the run for now, so it's a choice of concrete or wet muddy grass for nesting which shouldn't be too appealing. It may help that the weather has got colder this morning and there is a heavy frost.
     
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Weight loss can be very deceiving if you aren't actually weighing them. I suggest you weigh her at the same time every day on a kitchen or postal scale.

    -Kathy
     
  10. Bossom-hen

    Bossom-hen Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, yes I have been doing that, she has gained 70g since I started giving her additional feeds (she was 610g and is now 680g) She should probably be around 750g. I have relented and constructed a broody cage for her which she is now in. I feel like a monster. She can still see and talk to her chicken pals if it makes her well it wil be worth it.
     

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