Late season broody hens

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Fentress, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. Fentress

    Fentress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I posted this on a broody hen thread and did not get a response, so maybe it is more of a breed question.

    My first season with broody hens and I have a few questions. Did not expect to have any broodies this year, so I ordered a game breed to use next year. I have BR, NH and SS from a commercial hatchery(Welp). I thought I had made the right decision until late May when 2 Speckled Sussex went broody. I isolated them in the same coop with the flock and they did OK. They did not protect the chicks all that well, but the dominant hens in the flock were only mildly irritated with the whole situation for a few days and then every thing calmed down. NO chicks hurt! I also have lots of free range (room) so everyone could spread out. Then in July 4 more hens went broody, 1 BR, 1 NH and 2 SS. About a third of my hens went broody this year. This is their first season. I thought that was a respectable percentage. Why did the hens go broody so late in the year? Will they go broody earlier next year in their second season? Chicks are for spring? Right? I have heard that late season chicks will never reach their full potential as compared to chicks born in early spring. Can that be true? I have some breed decisions to make. No need to keep a game breed just for brooding, if the other breeds can do it. Also, it seems that standard bred chickens may be more broody that hatchery birds. I guess you need to ask the breeder, but that is the direction I appear to be headed in.

    Is late season broodiness characteristic of the heavy breeds? Do game breeds brood more in the spring?

    Thanks for all your help.

    Mark
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    IMO they can go broody any time. I've had a black leghorn go broody in the fall.
    I have a black Penedesenca hen that went broody 4 days ago and two others that are still sitting of eggs that went broody a couple weeks ago.
    I have no problem with chicks hatched any time reaching full potential. It would probably be true if they had to get all their nourishment from free ranging.
    I hatch chicks just about every month except January and if it's still real cold February. I prefer fall chicks because I think they feather out better in cool weather and they start laying in spring.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that about the only thing you asked that can be answered more or less definitely is that breeder bred birds do indeed have more tendency to go broody. Hatcheries make efforts to breed out broodiness, to improve production. Well, also, I don't believe there is anything to the idea that late season chicks are less likely to reach their potential. They may be a bit slower about it, if winter interferes with the start of laying for example, but I can't imagine why it would matter in the long run, and I've never read this before.

    Otherwise, it's going to be a matter of words like "usually" and "less often" and such. In the end, they are individuals, and do what they do. I have a couple who go broody every year and at least one other who only has once or twice, but they are still around. Spring is indeed when the greatest number go broody and raise chicks, but they can start later in the season, as well as raise chicks then go broody again a few weeks later. In the end, they are individuals. I do think those who went broody this year are much more likely to do so again next year. Also, even hatchery Sussex are more likely to go broody than, say, Leghorns. And yet, people get a broody Leghorn now and then, and I had 3 Sussex hens but none went broody.
     
  4. jimgunn

    jimgunn Out Of The Brooder

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    I bought 9 hybrid laying hens in august last yr at 20 weeks old. To my surprise, one went broody in September. I put 9 eggs under her and 7 hatched in October. Got a good ratio of 3 cockerels and 4 hens. The cockerels went to new homes and I kept all the hens which now lay one egg everyday without fail. Then in early February, the same hen went broody. Again, I put 9 eggs under her and 8 hatched. Got 2 cockerels and 6 hens from that lot. She then went broody again in May and hatched out another batch. Her Age and time of year does not seem to affect her. She looks after the chicks great for the first 5 to 6 weeks and then let's them get on. They are mixed with the flock straight after hatching and their mum takes care of them. None of the other hens purchased have ever even thought about going broody, it's just this one.
     
  5. DuckiesGarden

    DuckiesGarden Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my first season with broody hens also so I can only comment since I'm no expert! I have OEG bantams and the 2 hens went broody early this spring and did a great job with their clutch and were good mothers but after they had their hatch, they didn't lay any more eggs until just 3 weeks ago they started laying again. They aren't acting broody yet BUT the eggs they've been laying have been confiscated by a Black Star hen I have that went broody In the beginning of July, so I'm not sure if that's the reason they aren't feeling broody. I've been moving their eggs to a different nest so they can sit if they want without interference but nothing yet. So maybe it's because they only go broody in spring? or maybe it's because the standard hen was putting their eggs with her clutch? But, the fact that they've started laying again after such a long break has made me think that maybe they the broody instinct kicked in. Now, that Black Star has never brooded one time in the 4 years I've had her(I got her as a full grown bird so there's no telling how old she is) and the other 2 BS hens I have never been broody, so I don't know if her doing it now is a fluke or what. All I know is that it's mid-August now and she's still hard at it. She actually hatched a chick a few weeks ago but didn't want to take care of it, just stayed in the nest. So that's my experience with the game breeds (the banties) being broody and the heavy breeds (the BS) being broody. I also ordered some hatchery birds just for their broody nature but as they are only 4 months old I don't know how they'll do yet. I ordered Speckled Sussex, light brahmas and buff orps hoping for some good mamas since I never expected the girls I already had to ever go broody!
    I'm sure they say the late season hatchees don't do as well just because they are born so close to cold weather instead of growing up in the warmth of summer. But, having said that, I've noticed with my own birds that the ones who have it a bit rough starting out have ended up as some of my hardiest birds. They might be an exception tho. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. I'd be interested to hear from someone with more experience tho since I've got a lot to learn still! Good luck with your birds!
     
  6. Fentress

    Fentress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks everyone! I'm hooked on broodies. Seeing a hen on pasture with chicks, eating natural foods. So much better than chicks in a box with a light over them. However, I do see managment issues in the future that have to be delt with, such as how old ds you let the cockerels get, do you separate them, having to set up for processing when you may only have a few chickens to cull and haveing to set up breeding pens whenever a broody comes along. It would be conveinent if a core group of hens would go broody within 4-6 weeks of each other.

    Thanks for your help. By the way, I did hear from somewhere that chicks born late in the year never reach their full potential. That did not make sense to me either. It could have been from a breeder who has very exacting standards or maybe I misunderstood.

    Thanks again,

    Mark
     
  7. Luckytaz

    Luckytaz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mark,
    By potential they're talking about maximum size. Their is some truth to this.
     
  8. Fentress

    Fentress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks. I wonder how much of a difference it makes?
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I weigh all my birds at regular intervals as they grow and haven't seen a seasonal difference.
    I feed between 19 and 22% protein grower and nothing else until they go out foraging where they get greens, seeds and bugs they find. Otherwise they don't get scratch or treats until they're grown. This might be why I don't see a seasonal change in size.
     

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