My dumb question-du-jour

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sezjasper, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    471
    29
    128
    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    I really didn't want to post this but I've had trouble finding information so here goes...

    I've found tons of stuff on how to break a broody hen. But I haven't been able to learn...what's the problem if a hen does go broody? I know it serves no purpose if there are no fertile eggs involved, but is it bad for the hen if you let nature take its course?

    Thanks for the help...just trying to learn here!
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    36,052
    7,593
    646
    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Have you tried putting her in a wire cage for a few days? I heard that works quite well. Then hen's body temperature goes up when she's broody and when she's in the cage it's difficult for her to maintain the elevated body temp, so she'll give up after anything from 2-7 days. Being broody and sitting on eggs takes quite a toll on the hen's body. I hear they can lose up to 25% of their body weight during the 3 weeks they normally sit while incubating and hatching eggs. What I usually do with mine is give them some fertile eggs to hatch, but I understand that's not always possible for everyone.
     
  3. mrshaggie810

    mrshaggie810 Chillin' With My Peeps

    285
    6
    88
    Jul 18, 2012
    Michigan
    Well, I'm going to show my stupidity now too, but 1. I don't know how to tell if a hen is broody, and two, if a hen goes broody I *think* she stops laying...which would be the problem.
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,242
    208
    208
    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I think the biggest issue is that she stops laying eggs for a whole month. My bantum cochin goes broody often but I don't really care if I miss out on her eggs so I just give her a fake egg and let her be. She is fine and there is no problem with that if you don't mind missing the eggs.

    Also, they tend to lose weight and if it is winter and snowy this can be a health concern.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  5. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,242
    208
    208
    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    When a hen goes broody she will sit in her nest on eggs all day and night. She will usually pull out the feathers on her tummy to better warm the eggs and will get very grumpy if approached. A lot of people start to worry because they do not see them eat or drink often. They will get down from the nest for a few minutes once a day or sometimes less to eat, drink and poop - this is fine, it is part of their nature and they will eat if they need to. Don't try to feed them in the nest or they will poop in there. Otherwise they are in the nest all the day and will not lay any new eggs. This lasts about 21 days if not broken.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,136
    3,337
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Hens cannot count. Many will stay broody for months if not broken or if they do not hatch eggs.

    When hens are broody, they are not laying eggs. For some people this is a problem. If they are feeding the hen they want eggs.

    When a hen is broody, she is not eating, drinking, or getting as much exercise as normal. Most can handle this OK, but they can be weakened. They may be more susceptible to parasites or diseases when broody. Roost mites especially can be dangerous to a broody. To me, this is why I either give a broody eggs to hatch or break her.

    Some broody hens are willing to share a nest so other hens can lay with them. Some do not share at all. This depends on your set-up and where the hens want to lay, but it can upset the henhouse, or at least one or two hens. This is generally not a big problem as long as you have a spare nest the other hens are willing to use.

    If you don't collect the eggs daily and the eggs are fertile, they can start to develop. Many people don't like to find developing chicks in their omelet.
     
  7. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,130
    30
    168
    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I had my first bunch of broody hens this spring. I have 2 repeat broodies. I used to try to argue with them, putting them in the cage, but they would be broody again in a few days. I now just let them figure it out and just be broody if they want. I handle them every day. If they feel like they are suddenly losing weight, I break them. I haven't gotten rid of any perpetual broodies yet because I want to see if any will raise chicks this spring. Once I figure out who the good mommies are, I will get rid of some of the broody ones. Murphy's Law says nobody will go broody this spring. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  8. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,242
    208
    208
    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    lol. I take the same approach. My cochin has been basically one month on one month off for the last year. I gave up and just let her do what she wants to do. I actually just gave her fertile eggs for the first time today. eeee!
     
  9. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

    471
    29
    128
    May 6, 2012
    Eldersburg, Maryland
    A big THANKS to everyone who replied! I think I understand! I haven't had any of my girls go broody (yet) but I'm sure it will happen eventually and when it does, I wanted to know what to do about it. I'm not really concerned about missing out on eggs, but now that I know there are health issues related to broodiness (weight loss, weakness, parasites) I think I will at least try to "break the broody" if it happens.

    Ridgerunner--too funny--we don't have a rooster so at least there's one problem I don't need to worry about!!

    Off-grid Hen, of course you'll get a broody hen this spring--but it probably won't happen until you've already bought a new batch of chicks [​IMG]
     
  10. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,130
    30
    168
    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY

    This was one of the hens I had to break! She was a terrible nest box hog! I have 4 boxes on the west wall, and 4 boxes on the east wall of my coop. She occupied not only her own nest box, but all 4 on that wall. Sometimes would chase the other hens out of the house. I had to nip that in the bud, lol.

    I would like to clarify. I'm new to chickens, and a bit of a scientist a heart. My goal is to observe my flock in their most natural behaviors, and that includes hens being broody. I have a separate broody/grow out area this year, so I will see if I can get someone to hatch eggs. I also have to see who will be the best mother. Im hoping to have the girls hatch a few small clutches in the spring. If I had an egg business or ran a CSA, this wouldn't be my attitude. I'm just enjoying everything about the experience of raising chickens.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by