Is she broody?

joshmod

Hatching
6 Years
Aug 31, 2013
5
0
7
Hi All,

I am in my first laying season and one of my hens just started setting in the laying box all of the time. She will set on eggs or nothing. I have taken her out a couple of times and she will grab some food and go right back as soon as it is open. Is she broody or could something be wrong? What would you recommend?

Many thanks!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,055
22,736
907
Southeast Louisiana
I agree, probably broody. There are a lot of signs that a hen might be broody. When she’s off the nest she walks around fluffed up and making a continuous puk, puk, puk sound. She stays on the nest a lot without pooping in the nest. In hot weather I’ve had a broody come off the nest twice a day and stay off maybe an hour each time. In colder weather those breaks may be only 15 minutes or so long with probably only one a day. Since she is holding it while on the nest, when she does come off to eat, drink, and poop, she often leaves a big stinky mess. While on the nest she may defend it, growling and pecking at you if you get too close. I’ve had hens just laying an egg do that too so defending a nest is not a sure sign.

Actually none of this is a sure sign. I’ve had hens display practically all these behaviors and not be truly broody. Broodiness is caused by hormones. Sometimes those hormones just don’t kick all the way over to full broody.

My test to see if a hen is truly broody and deserving of eggs is for her to spend two consecutive nights on the nest instead of roosting in her normal spot. I’ve had hens spend one night on the nest, then quit. I’ve never had one quit after spending two consecutive nights on the nest.
 

joshmod

Hatching
6 Years
Aug 31, 2013
5
0
7
Thanks for the replies. So what do I do if I am just wanting her to go back to laying eggs? She has only been laying for about 2-3 months in all reality and it seems a bit soon to go broody - but alas, there she is.
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Jharper

Songster
7 Years
Oct 20, 2012
3,730
99
206
Tifton, Ga
I would let her be broody. It's their nature. I would never stop a hen that is wanting to be a mother to break her of that. It's such an amazing experience. I would find her some fertile eggs if you don't have a rooster.
 

joshmod

Hatching
6 Years
Aug 31, 2013
5
0
7
My wife and I started talking about giving her some fertile eggs tonight after I posted. I think we would love to do that but are fearful that we don't have enough room for more chickens. I think my major fear is that she is just healthy. She obviously is not eating much and we want to make sure that she is staying healthy. But if it is okay to just let her go, then we might as well let her go.

Thanks again for the replies all, we have only had our chickens since January so everything is new (and exciting, but new).
 

Jharper

Songster
7 Years
Oct 20, 2012
3,730
99
206
Tifton, Ga
My wife and I started talking about giving her some fertile eggs tonight after I posted.  I think we would love to do that but are fearful that we don't have enough room for more chickens.  I think my major fear is that she is just healthy.  She obviously is not eating much and we want to make sure that she is staying healthy.  But if it is okay to just let her go, then we might as well let her go.

Thanks again for the replies all, we have only had our chickens since January so everything is new (and exciting, but new).

Well, you can let her try and see what happens.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,055
22,736
907
Southeast Louisiana
I’m not sure what you mean by “just let her go”? Do you mean get her some fertile eggs and let her hatch or do you mean just let her be broody?

A hen builds up excess fat when laying, mostly around the pelvic/vent area but it is spread out some. Anyone that has butchered a hen has seen the fat pad in the vent area. That’s why they don’t have to eat a lot while broody. They live off of that fat. Yes they will lose weight. Yes they will get skinny. It’s just fat. So don’t be too concerned with her not eating a lot while broody.

In my opinion, if you are not going to give her fertile eggs, you should break her from being broody. Some hens will stay broody long after that excess fat is used up. Then it does get hard on them. Here is a thread about how to break a broody. I also use an elevated area with a wire bottom.

Break a Broody Thread
https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=2176186#p2176186
 

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