Keep broody from overheating?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Shezadandy, May 28, 2016.

  1. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Everyone!

    Our weather is doing a cruel and sudden shift from mid-60's to mid-90's with a week of icky 87-97 degree days in a row before cooling back to our normal weather.

    The rest of the flock has the perma-shade area of their run to retreat to and the ground is still nice and moist for cooling down.

    But Betty, who has been on fertile eggs for 9 days, of course, will not have the benefit of this area, so the challenge is to keep her cool enough to continue brooding without disturbing her. So far she's been great about getting up a couple times a day for a stretch, water, and a little bite to eat- based on her habits I'm confident she gets up when thirsty. Also new things added cause the others to swoop in and make mayhem when she wants peace.

    We do have electrical in the coop so it's not out of the question to put a fan on her. Naturally I don't want to put fans in places where the chickens can get to them- not a big deal for the roosting chickens, because I can do a box fan through the hardware cloth top doors at night (3rd pic).

    One thought is to replace the nest box door wood panel (2nd pic, very bottom) with a hardware cloth panel and put a small fan that way. Obviously this will let more light through too- not sure if that will bother her or not.

    Any tips for the best way to do this or some other good cooling method is appreciated!



    Here's a picture of the situation from inside. The lower left is actually the broody hen laying before she went broody- and that is where she's set up shop. (we've got a couple that love narrow deep boxes, so the middle row's for them) 2nd picture is from the other side of this laying cabinet. 3rd pic is the people door with the nest box areas to the right and left. The outside access door is a security screen door (like one for a front door) for airflow and of course predator security - pic is from when it was still under construction.

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  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    As long as it doesn't stay in the high 90s too long and the nest boxes aren't exposed to the sun (which would raise the temp higher) I wouldn't worry about it.
    A fan won't hurt. Also a foot bath for her when she comes off the nest. I wouldn't fuss over her too much. Let her do her thing. If food, water and perhaps a foot bath are available, she'll take care of things herself.
    Make sure others don't add eggs while she's off the nest. Mark the eggs under her and remove volunteers.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    CC has covered the broody situation well.

    But curious......How hot does it get inside coop during those high temps?
    How much ventilation do you have..I see a couple small windows..is that large door open 24/7?
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Make certain above addressed.
     
  5. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are actually 4 windows that cross ventilate east-west at 'chicken floor level', and then the pop door makes 5 when open during the day.

    The north and south side of the building have 2ft roof overhangs for shade and for protection from driving rain, and we built it so as to have open eaves all the way from the top down to where it meets the wall. South is our prevailing wind. The south window is placed high to preserve the building the rest of the year (more on that below). The eave openings on both the south and north eaves (south shown below) can flow all the way through- the height matches the eave openings. Now, the chickens also have access to that air on the roosting tables that make their 2nd story, 2 pictured in the 1st pic, and there are 2 more on either side of the door on top of the nesting boxes where the side screens are, with the security door just beyond.

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    On this property we had to replace the south facing walls on our shop and pump house because they rotted through and through, mostly because of doors and windows without adequate protection. Neglect from previous owners of course played a big part, but we routinely have high winds and driving rains from the south, so for longevity's sake we eliminated south openings because couldn't stand up to the beatings. The building we just ripped out to make way for the new chicken coop had a south opening and that side was just as rotted as the other 2 buildings. Yes, paint and trim and caulk may have helped ... 10 years ago... and so would a level when they built the foundation (I moved nothing, that's really what was there)... I say that with a chuckle because it's been an journey rehab'ing years of neglect from previous owners:

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    That said, the coop gets direct sunlight to its west side from 2pm to 6pm. The rest of the day it has the benefit of "permashade" like area of the run. When we get these gluts of hot with week long misery, there isn't a breeze which is why it's so icky. Most of the year it's a matter of keeping things dry and not drafty.

    This is the building's first real week of this kind of weather so I don't know what the temperature inside will be. But I will be home to keep a close eye on it- no leaving for 10 hrs a day and hoping for the best!

    Here's the run- working on finishing up the expansion today with mild temps with 4ft hardware cloth all around w/hawk net over the top.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The only good news on our heat outbreak is we're supposed to still get high 50's-low 60's at night. The nest boxes are definitely not exposed to the sun- maybe I'll try a partial tarp to shade that wall without impeding airflow. So far we've been super lucky- nobody's intruded on her nest - actually she's the only one that likes to lay in a floor level nest box. All but 1 of the girls left that side of the nest box bank altogether and started laying on the other side when Betty went broody. And thank you so much for the foot bath idea, I will set that up!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nice work eave/gable venting that type of roof.....big roof overhangs are the bomb....never seen it done that way, nice job.

    Did see a shed like that re-roofed with overhangs on both the top planes and the bottom planes creating 2 on each side eaves....
    .......but they didn't do the end over hangs and vents.

    I struggle with vicious west sun exposure too...south too, from noon until maybe an hour before sundown.....even with beau-coup venting ti really heats up the coop.
     
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    I am not a setting hen so my advise is suspect but from the looks of the coop almost everything looks great. But if she is leaving her nest daily, don't expect many chicks. I don't think that she has the mother hood gene in her. Setting hens do better and are happier if the eggs are in contact with or in near contact with the Earth.

    Those of you with a long chicken keeping experience think back and remember how often a hen who stole her nest away in a Blackberry patch almost always showed up with 12-15 chicks and those hens who you fretted over and micro-managed their pregnancies almost never did that well. I am not saying that you shouldn't help your brood hens have a successful hatch but that before we micro-manage a setting of eggs that we need to learn as much about hatching them as the ole hen who is setting on them was hatched already knowing.
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    You can answer your own question about light interfering with a setting hen by looking again at the nest box that Betty chose. It is the most secluded, darkest, and closest to Earth nest box in the entire coop. If we will only listen to them our chickens can 'learn' us much.
     
  10. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She hasn't had the opportunity to set anywhere except for the coop or she may have chosen a different spot. We have a spacious run that is well protected because I'm completely aware of the abilities of our farm cat and the jerk dog across the street that comes here to terrorize our animals no matter how many times I talk to them. We also have a healthy hawk and owl population But you're absolutely right, she did choose the most sensible location she had access to for her nest.

    Before we made the decision to give her fertile eggs (as opposed to consigning her to broody jail, or worse, allowing her to set indefinitely on dud eggs as our youngest rooster is only 8 weeks old), I observed that she had plucked herself in preparation for setting and wouldn't (and does not) leave her nest even for the tastiest available treats. When she does get up she's never gone long. The last few days I've been around for many hours a day while I working on the run expansion, so I'm in a good spot to observe her doings when she does get up. My only concern is the drastic temperature change and non-disruptive ways to keep her from overheating as she is in something of an artificial environment. Obviously if she was tucked under a bush somewhere she'd probably be just fine. It's her first time and ours and the expectations are pretty low and we'll be happy with whatever she manages.
     

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