My first broody hen - HELP!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by malkered, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 9 hens and 1 rooster living together in large coop and run.

    Normally I open the coop door first thing in the morning and they all come running out into the fresh air.

    Yesterday morning one of my hens, Belle, (a 28 week old RIR/Light Sussex X) was missing from the morning head count and I found her in one of the nesting boxes, I thought laying.

    She was missing at lunchtime too and she was still in the same nesting box and again at teatime.

    I felt under her and there was one, very warm egg under her. As I had no intention of letting them hatch their eggs I started to remove the egg but hadn't got the heart to take it from her and put it back. She was still there, with her egg today.

    I watched her for a while and she left the nesting box briefly to eat some food that I put out in the coop, (their food and water is normally in a covered part of the outside run). While she was out of the nesting box some of the other hens and the Rooster seemed to be picking on her giving her a peck as she went near. After about 5 minutes she returned to the nesting box.where she still was when I shut them in for the night.

    This leads me to a few questions.

    Why would the other birds start picking on her? would they have forgotten her if she's spent most of the last two or three days in the nesting box?

    I haven't seen her out in the coop drinking or eating, should I put food and water inside the coop too so that it is closer to hand for her?

    Will she continue to lay if she is broody?

    If I leave her with just one egg and she manages to hatch it I will end up with one chick of that age, if it hatches into the coop will the other birds accept it? Is a lone chick a good idea?

    If I put more eggs in with her would she accept them?
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Because of changes in her behavior and vocalizations, the rest of the flock are finding her to be 'different'. It's normal interaction.

    As far as feeding, do whatever you have to so as to assure that she leaves the nest daily to eat and defecate.

    If she is truly broody, she will stop laying.

    A hen high in the social structure can protect her chicks in a flock situation given that she has enough room to keep her chicks away from the flock.

    She will readily accept any eggs that you give her; however, do so promptly so that you do not have to deal with a staggered hatch.
  3. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for your reply.

    By my reckoning she's been on her egg for 2-3 days. If I introduce a couple of eggs tomorrow will that create a hatch that is too staggered?
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Generally a hen will leave the nest between 24 and 36 hours after the first chick has hatched. You might try removing the chick as soon as it hatches. Maintain it in a brooder out of her hearing and sight and then return it to her after the rest hatch.
  5. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for your advice.

    It seems that Belle's sister, Etta, has gone broody too!

    I hope this isn't catching as I don't want all 9 hens broody. How likely is this?
  6. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Actually, cancel that, I think she was just a while laying, phew!
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Do you have space for more birds? What if you hatch all males?

    You said you had no intention of letting them hatch chicks. I'd think your best bet would be to break her from being broody. It's not too hard. 3-5 days in a wire cage, elevated so cool air reaches her underside. No nest in the cage, just the wire floor, food and water. A roost if practical but not necessary. That usually does the trick.
  9. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yeah, we have space for more and so far we have found happy homes for all of our extra males.
  10. malkered

    malkered Chillin' With My Peeps

    She was on just one egg and she went broody three days after I had set some eggs in the incubator. I replaced her egg with six eggs from the incubator which I candled today and all look as if they were fertile. She is still taking good care of them.

    What is the maximum number of eggs that a hen can comfortably hatch?

    If these hatch do I just leave her to take care of the chicks or might I have to intervene. It's quite cold in the UK at present so will I need to put them into a brooder?

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