Is Brooding Contagious?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chick-george, May 9, 2011.

  1. chick-george

    chick-george Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 10, 2010
    I have 9 hens. One of them went broody at least 2 months ago, she is a cochin. She still is even though she isn't sitting on any eggs. One week after she went broody we noticed another of the girls doing the same. Approximately 2 weeks after that a third girl went broody. Next my silkie girl started brooding in a weird little corner that I cant call a nest but she seems to have given up. Now I've noticed that for the last week or so my Austrolorp has started to spend a lot of time on the nest. At one point I stopped hens 2 and 3 from brooding by placing them on the roosts during the night instead of allowing them to sleep in the nests. But like I said girl number 1 is still brooding. Should I try harder to stop her just in case she is encouraging the others to brood? Its not like we are hurting for eggs. We are still getting 5 a day but I don't really know how long this can go on.
    As an aside, I have chicks coming the May 23. Does anyone think I should sneak the new chicks under the main culprit to see if that helps her and them? I hate the thought of caging her to stop the brooding. She is getting plenty to eat and drink so she isn't hurting. I thought that maybe she just really needs to be a mom. She makes noises at me when I take her out but has never pecked me so I think her temperament is right.
    Any feedback or opinions would be appreciated.
  2. Mentzer6

    Mentzer6 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 30, 2010
    I was wondering the same thing! I had my partridge cochin go broody, then one of my RIR/Speckled Sussex mixes and then a little mutt banty! My layers are going in and laying eggs, so they have eggs under them, but not sure how many are fertile. Our only roos are Silkies. LOL! Will be a treat to see what the heck we get if anything!

    I don't know about adding chicks under the hen.

    Good luck!

  3. tinydancer87

    tinydancer87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2011
    SE Georgia
    Yes! I always have one hen start it, then before I know it there are 4 or 5 hens all crowded in a corner growling and stealing every egg they can reach.
  4. Barrdwing

    Barrdwing Chillin' With My Peeps

    It certainly does seem to be contagious. One hen starts, and all of a sudden four more are saying, "Hey, now that looks like fun!" I have also had it happen where the sight and sound of a hen with new chicks gets the attention of a hen that was sort-of broody, and pushes her into full broody mode.
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I vote that it is contagious.

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2011
    In those breeds I would say that seeing a hen brood would encourage a already genetically-broody hen to start. It is an insinct not a behaviour so, no it is not a thing they learn from another hen. A hen will go broody in the wild away from the flock. If it were a contagious thing then chickens would be extinct. However, when the hen goes broody her hormones change and some experts believe that the others can sense the change and sometimes this can turn on the broodiness hormones in the flock.

    Silkies and Cochins are the broodiest breeds of chicken ever. They are always ready to hatch an egg. If you were dealing with Rhode Island Reds or Black Giants you would have one broody and likely never see another the whole time she is on the nest. Some breeds will never brood at all on average and if one does go broody she will likely not hatch an egg because she instinctly doesn't know how.

    What you are going through is not a rare thing. The fact that you have super-broody breeds doesn't help. I do believe that some hens are not stubborn or over broody but they just want to be a mom. I would be careful with placing new chicks under her. Not that it can't be done but usually you have a lot lower death-rate in chicks that are brooded. This year I have lost 1 chick out of 75 in brooders. It has been my experiance that my game hens raise around 6 out of 10 to eight weeks old.

    Here is my thread on how to safely break a broody if that is what you choose:

    Good Luck to you in whatever you decide to do.........

    Timothy in KY
  7. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Well, Gritsar will tell you that it is.

    But Master Sourland is the man to ask. He's the acknowledged expert on the phenomena. [​IMG]
  8. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    Darn right it's contagious:

  9. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Has anyone every noticed their hens going broody in the same order as the pecking order? In my flock, it seems that the highest ranking hen claims the first clutch of eggs, the second claims the second clutch, and so on.
  10. debducttape

    debducttape Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2011
    Haven't you ever seen a bunch of female humans, one has a baby, and then suddenly everyone wants something cute and cuddly. Chickens and people aren't that much different.

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