Is my hen broody...in the frigid winter?!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by feetofclay1678, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. feetofclay1678

    feetofclay1678 Out Of The Brooder

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    My young gold laced Wyandotte has been acting broody to me for the last month. She has been staying in the nest box all day and night, and only eats and drinks when I lock her out of the coop in the later afternoon after the other ladies are done laying. She sits on the others eggs all day, and doesn't seem to be laying herself anymore. The moment I open the door to the coop back up at dusk she books it right back in to the nest box. Is this broody behavior? If so, and I do manage to find some hatching eggs, will she remain broody to hatch them out, and will they all be ok being born in the middle of the winter? The coop is lighted, but not heated at all. She was a mid april chick, so in her first year of life right now. We have had an unseasonable warm winter so far, but now its frigid out.
     
  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes. It does sound as though she is broody. Does she puff up and growl when disturbed? Is she clucking?
    Most likely she would remain broody to hatch chicks if you wish to try. Since she has been broody for a while look her over to determine that she is in good enough condition to do the extra time required to hatch eggs. Being so young and the time of year you might want to consider waiting until spring for chicks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Sounds like a broody to me. Broody hens can hatch and care for chicks in winter. The hen will keep them plenty warm. The real challenge is finding someone with fertile eggs this time of year. Shorter days make for reduced egg laying and poor fertility.
     
  4. feetofclay1678

    feetofclay1678 Out Of The Brooder

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    She does puff up her feathers when I open the nest box door to take her out, but she has never been aggressive in any way...she is actually the sweetest chicken we have by far. She does cluck softly. I have been checking her body condition out when I take her off the nest and she seems to be maintaining her weight pretty well so far. will she continue to be broody until spring when its easier to find eggs to hatch?
     
  5. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    After three or four days of finding them in the nesting box all day long you can be pretty sure they are broody. After a month of it you need to do something about it. She will be one very sickly bird if you leave her broody till spring. Imagine yourself only eating one small meal a day till then, wouldn't be good for you.

    The sensible thing would be to lock her off the nest day and night (must be 24 hrs a day) so she gets over it and just wait for her to go broody again in spring. Will let her recover from being already broody longer than a normal hatch would take and will be easier on the chicks being hatched when the weather has warmed up.

    As chicken folk are rarely known for being sensible when it comes to adding to their flocks, if you decide to give her eggs go do some searches on raising chicks in winter first so you are prepared. Oh and don't leave it too long, she will be broody over twice as long as they should be by the time they hatch as it is.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  6. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2.
     
  7. calpal212

    calpal212 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you put eggs under her do NOT put a full clutch I did ten with my buff Rock and only three hatched out! I would only do about five in winter, something more reasonable to be able to keep them all warm
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You don’t say where you are so we have no idea what your weather is like. You might want to look in this thread to see how someone in Michigan did it.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/947046/broody-in-michigan-winter

    That’s good advice about not giving her a full clutch. She will need to cover them as they grow and they grow fast, assuming your weather is actually cold. In warmer weather that’s not as critical as they grow but in winter it can be vital. It helps with many questions if you put you general location in your profile so we have a better understanding of what might be important to you and your unique situation.

    Before a hen even starts to lay she builds up excess fat in her body, mostly in the vent area but really all over. If you’ve ever butchered a laying hen you’ll see that extra fat as compared to a rooster. That excess fat is what a broody mostly lives on, that’s why a broody hen doesn’t need to eat and drink as much as other chickens. She’s mostly living off of that fat. But eventually the fat runs out. In winter, if you really have cold weather, she will burn more fat than in the heat of summer just to stay warm. With your locking her out so she is probably eating more than a regular broody so her fat supply is lasting longer.

    I would not give her any eggs since she has been broody so long. I’d be concerned about the state of that fat, does she have enough left to sustain her. Personally I’d be quite serious about breaking her from being broody so she can rebuild that fat supply and return to laying sooner rather than later. Since she goes broody so often, she is likely to go broody again, but this time she will have a full supply of fat. My method to break a broody is to house her in a cage with a wire floor, elevated to let cooling air under her. Keep her there for three or four days with food and water but nothing that looks like a nest. If she goes back to her nest when you let her out just do it again.

    Good luck!
     
  9. calpal212

    calpal212 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry! I am in southern colorado
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for the location. That is certainly cold enough to have concerns.
     

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