laying again after chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chuckachucka, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2016
    Birmingham, England, UK.
    one of my hens is raising some chicks who are now 9 weeks old. This is the second time she has raised chicks and the last time she mothered them nearly four months. During that time she didn't lay and only started laying again about a couple of weeks after she stopped mothering. I was expecting something similar this time but today I noticed her squatting when I got close to her.
    so my question is, is squatting a sign of a hen soon going to resume laying? I know squatting is. A big sign a pullet is going to start laying but is it also a sign for a hen after stopping laying to raise chicks? Should I expect her to start laying again soon? Also, if she starts laying will she stop mothering the chicks?
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2012
    Conway SC
    Its according to the breed and the hen. A good portion of my broody hens will be back laying about a month after their hatch---still not weaned chicks. Then some take longer, BUT I am probably different than some/most---when the chicks are some what feathered out and are roosting beside Mom instead of under her----I put her back in with the flock, the chicks remain in that pen for a little while then they are moved to a bigger pen with chicks their age (if any) and remain there until they are about 1/2 grown----then switched to another pen if I need the pen they are in(has smaller wire). Never do I put young birds with older. Just my way that works great for me with No picked/pecked/hurt/killed chicks and no leg bands to keep up with age. Age is important because all my chickens in the 2, 2 1/2 age range will be sold.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Squatting for you means she accepts your dominance. That's unusual for a broody hen, they normally don't accept any dominance, so I'd suspect it probably means she is getting ready to wean her chicks. They sure don't squat for my roosters. That may or may not mean she is getting ready to lay. Each hen is an individual.

    A lot of the squatting and mating behavior is more about dominance than egg laying. I've seen a 13 week old pullet willingly squat for a 13 week old cockerel and it was over two months before she started to lay. Squatting is often tied to a certain level of maturity which often relates to the onset of egg laying, but not always. It's a sign that it might be about to happen, not that it is absolutely ready to happen.

    Before a hen starts to lay she builds up excess fat. This excess fat is what she mostly lives on while sitting in the nest incubating the eggs. That's why she doesn't have to get up much to eat and drink while incubating. Different hens have to store up different amounts of fat before they start laying. Some recover after incubating a lot faster than others. Some eat and drink a lot more while incubating or raising their chicks so they recover faster.

    I've had broody hens wean their chicks at three weeks a few times. I've had some go past 9 weeks. I've had some stop caring for the chicks at night but taking care of them during the day. I've had hens leave the chicks alone during the day but sleep with them at night. Typically mine care for theirs until 5 to 8 weeks but there can sure be exceptions. I let my broody hens decide that.

    I had a hen start laying 2-1/2 weeks after her chicks hatched, she was one of those that weaned them at three weeks. I thought a predator had taken the hen when I saw the chicks running around all confused but no, she was on a nest laying an egg. She was my only green egg layer at the time so I knew she was actually laying. Most of mine wait a few weeks after they wean their chicks to start laying again but each hen is an individual. As far as I know that's the only one that started laying before she weaned her chicks but most of mine don't have that distinctive an egg. it may have happened and I didn't notice.

    Broody behavior and egg laying both rely on hormones to a certain extent, especially broodies. Those hormones are stronger in some hens than others and some hens react to those hormones differently. Most hens will have typical reactions to those hormones but every now and then you get a hen that really gets mixed up.

    I've had the same hens hatch and raise chicks more than once. They are not always consistent from one time going through that process to another. And no, my hens don't always do a better job the second time they raised chicks than the first. I see a lot of warnings on here about how badly a first time broody might do. That's not been my experience. Each time is unique. Most of my broody hens do a great job, first time or not.

    At nine weeks it's highly likely your hen is getting ready to wean her chicks, even if she went 4 months the first time she was broody. She may be getting ready to resume laying, some of that will depend on how well she has been eating while raising those chicks so she could store up nutrients. But I can't tell you for sure, chickens are so inconsistent and a lot of this is on instinct, let alone the differences in how hormones hit them.
    ronott1 likes this.
  4. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2016
    Birmingham, England, UK.
    Thank you for your replies! I'm thinking she is going to wean the chicks soon. I guessed she wouldn't mother them as long as the first batch last year.

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