Leave her be !

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by coupe-d-lux, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. coupe-d-lux

    coupe-d-lux In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2015
    I have a hen who has been brooding for just over two weeks now, sitting on several eggs. Before, the other three hens all chose the same nest. I've isolated the broody hen/nest from the others, but still in the same location inside the hen house. The other hens are obsessed with trying to get to the same nest..still. They've left their eggs in other nests, on the floor and in the run area! No consistency at all.
    Question: Will the other hens settle down to another nest or will this be an ongoing thing. When the chicks hatch, will mom hen keep the others out of her nest? I'm obviously new to this and have plenty of doubt and lots of questions.

  2. Deckgirls

    Deckgirls Chirping

    Aug 5, 2014
    mine all tried laying in the same next with my broody. i just made sure i marked with like a pencil an X on the ones i wanted her to hatch and then daily took the other chickens eggs away and brought them inside
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    You need to mark the eggs you've given her and remove any unmarked eggs daily. Otherwise, you will have a mess of hatch dates. Depending on how high up she is on the pecking order, she may or may not be able to protect the chicks when they hatch.

    What I do, is let them brood where they want, then when the chicks hatch, I move momma hen and babies at night to a private area within view of the flock. They have the chance to bond and learn to eat and drink. Then after a week or so, I open their access to the whole coop, and they do fine.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Put some fake eggs and/or golf balls in the other nests....that may induce them to lay there.
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Personally i use my alpha hen to brood - in doing so, no other hens dare lay eggs in her nest when she is sitting and her chicks have optimum protection and access to food etc. Others have the same success with subordinate hens, i should add. The way i do it just makes life a little simpler, thats all.

  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The way I understand it, you have isolated the broody and her eggs so the others cannot get to her nest. There is no need to mark the eggs now that the others cannot get to the nest. Marking the eggs I want her to hatch and removing any other eggs daily is how I handle a broody hen that is not isolated from the flock. By the way, I hope all the eggs were started together. If not you have a staggered hatch which is a problem.

    The other hens will settle down. Where they wind up laying their eggs I don’t know. It could be another of your nests or just about anywhere else. They are creatures of habit and often hate change. But they are also adaptable and they will adapt. I suggest putting fake eggs in your other nests and try to keep any eggs not in a nest picked up to help guide them to another nest.

    Different people handle broodies different ways. I don’t isolate my broody hens from the rest of the flock either as they lay or as they hatch and have never had a problem with another hen laying with the chicks as they hatch. They will often lay with the broody before hatch starts. One time I had another broody hen fight with the broody over her eggs as they were hatching. The second broody heard the chicks peeping and wanted them for herself. Some eggs were destroyed, so yes there can be a risk. Other than that one time I’ve never lost a chick to another adult when they were hatching or while the broody was raising them with the flock. I’ve never had a hen that failed to protect her chicks from another hen if that was required no matter what her position is in the pecking order. I know others have had problems with that. You are dealing with living animals and anything can happen.

    For your first time especially and until you actually see a broody hen in action, isolating the chicks as they hatch is a reasonable precaution. We are just strangers on the internet often offering conflicting information. Who do you believe? A warning. If you are isolating the broody make sure the chicks cannot get through the wire or out of that isolation. My flock very seldom bothers chicks on their own, even very young chicks, but a chick where Mama cannot protect it is at risk, either from the other hens or something else. Make sure those chicks cannot get away from Mama’s protection. That’s one of the risks of trying to isolate them, you fail to really isolate.

    Some people isolate the hen and chicks until the hen weans them or even longer. Then they are faced with an integration. I prefer the broody hen raise the chicks with the flock so she handles integration for me. I’ve had a broody wean her chicks as early as three weeks, though that is pretty unusual. Somewhere between four and nine weeks is more normal for me but some take even longer than that.

    Isolating a broody and her just-hatched chicks where the rest of the flock can see them isn’t a bad thing. It gives the chicks a better chance to get mobile and to learn to eat and drink without interference from the other adults, plus it gives the hen and her chicks a better chance to bond and the hen a chance to teach them to obey her. I generally don’t do it that way, just let the hen bring the chicks off the nest whenever she is ready an let her handle everything with no interference from me, but it’s still a reasonable thing to do. But I want her to still be in full broody protective mode when the chicks are introduced to the flock. If she hatched where the flock can see her and has been isolated with the chicks where the flock can see her, she probably will have no reintegration issues herself. If she is some mysterious hen they’ve forgotten about that suddenly shows up with a bunch of chicks, she might or might not have her own reintegration issues.

    A good rooster protects all members of his flock. Some roosters are better than others, but normally if the new chicks are introduced to him at a fairly young age, he assumes they are his. Sometimes a dominant rooster will help a broody hen take care of her chicks, especially if there is some problem. Helping does not always happen, but I have never had a dominant rooster threaten any young chick. Most of my hens don’t threaten a young chick either unless that chick wanders into their personal space, though occasionally some will. That’s when Mama kicks butt.

    A story I like to tell and I’ve seen this many times. I’ve seen a two week old chick leave Mama’s protection and go stand next to the other adult hens at the feeder. Sometimes the other hens ignore that chick, at least for a while, but it usually doesn’t take long for one of the hens to peck that chick to remind it that it is bad chicken etiquette for that chick to eat with its betters. After that peck the chick goes running back to Mama as fast as it can run, peeping and with its little wings flapping. Mama ignores all this. That chick needs to learn. But if the hen that pecked the chick starts to follow it (usually they don’t but it has happened) Mama gets all upset and whips butt. You might be able to discipline my chick but you sure can’t threaten it.

    There are lots of different ways to do any of this. They all have their benefits but also their potential drawbacks. Our individual experiences will guide us in what we do. With practically anything to do with chickens, there is hardly ever one way that is right for each of us where every other way is wrong. There are a lot of different things that can work with their own benefits and drawbacks. You’ll develop your own methods and style as you go. Welcome to the adventure of broody hens. It can be a fun ride.
  7. coupe-d-lux

    coupe-d-lux In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2015
    Fantastic Information, and thanks to all.
    Some of the things that I've done in preparation appear to be correct. And I also see where I need to do a few things still before the chicks arrive. This certainly has been a learning experience and I'm sure more is to come. Again, thanks to the great advice !

  8. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop

    True, there are many, many ways to handle broodies in the flocks. And everyone's chicken set up is different, so what works for me, may not work for someone else.

    I've never had reintroduction issues because the flock can see the hen and the chicks. My broody area is within the coop, so they are completely within view. My main male is the only one my broodies will let near them. He stands guard over the chicks and protects them when I open up the door between the broody area (4X6 area under my storage shelf in the coop) and the rest of the coop.

    I've tried many times to let them raise chicks without separating them after hatch. Some were successful, but the ones that weren't ended up with squished chicks. I have a lot of birds, so there are more possibilities for issues. Someone with only 7 birds may not ever have an issue. So, this way works for me.
  9. AuntNomi

    AuntNomi Songster

    Aug 13, 2015
    Callahan, Florida!
    Great information here. I been wondering the same, glad you asked! Good luck to you with your new chicks. Hope you are able to share a picture or 2 when they arrive.

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