My first broody hen, interested in some outside opinions

clickchicks

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Jun 6, 2020
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My ~1 yo Australorp has gone broody. I've been trying to break her but she's being stubborn. I can go over all the things I've done to break, but I'm thinking about shifting gears and maybe letting her set on some eggs if I can't fully break her in the next few days.

This has been a frustrating year for me chicken wise. I had a decent sized order planned from a hatchery but cancelled after I had a couple of major health battles with chicks I picked up locally prior to my order shipping. THANKFULLY those issues have resolved and I have 3 lovely pullets I'm in the process of integrating, but I'm still down overall on the total number of birds I'd planned to add.

I know ultimately I have to choose for myself, but I'd love to hear some opinions. My PROs are that I can easily get some fertile eggs locally, and possibly make up my deficit this year assuming I don't get all roosters. Also, if I let her stay broody, that removes her from the pecking order for a bit and takes some pressure off my integrating pullets (I only have 3 adult hens counting the broody, and the 3 pullets... in theory slightly less stress on the littles if its a 2v3 scenario).

The major CON is that I know I have Mareks in my flock and this will very much be a canary in the coal mine situation. The 3 integrating pullets were purchased vaccinated and quarantined as chicks, and I planned to do the same with the hatchery chicks. Obviously I can't do that with a broody and have to assume losses will happen, which is hard emotionally on me. I am a sensitive person and I have a hard time watching my animals be sick. On the other hand, if a broody is raising them, I think that might help me to emotionally step back from things vs if I hand reared them. I wonder if anyone else feels that way about chicks raised by hens vs ones they brood themselves.

No real question here, mostly just curious what others might do if they were in my situation. Hopefully this isn't in the wrong section.
 

aart

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My ~1 yo Australorp has gone broody. I've been trying to break her but she's being stubborn. I can go over all the things I've done to break, but I'm thinking about shifting gears and maybe letting her set on some eggs if I can't fully break her in the next few days.
How long has she been broody?

Best bet is to put her in a crate, might want to wet her undercarriage with cool (not cold) water dunk first since it's probably hot as hades down there. You also might need to move the crate around during the day to keep her in the shade.

My experience goes about like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest (or as soon as I know they are broody), I put her in a wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller wire(1x2) on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop or run with feed and water.

After 48 hours I let her out of crate very near roosting time(30-60 mins) if she goes to roost great, if she goes to nest put her back in crate for another 48 hours.

Tho not necessary a chunk of 2x4 for a 'roost' was added to crate floor after pic was taken, gives the feet a break from the wire floor and encourages roosting.
1622809583488.png
 

Ridgerunner

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assuming I don't get all roosters.
Yeah you never know how many will hatch, let alone what sex they will be. I remember one hatch that was 8 girls and one boy. I actually wanted boys, that was a meat hatch for the freezer. I eat pullets too so no big deal, but if I want certain things I tend to order what I want instead of depending on a hatch.

if I let her stay broody, that removes her from the pecking order for a bit and takes some pressure off my integrating pullets (I only have 3 adult hens counting the broody, and the 3 pullets... in theory slightly less stress on the littles if its a 2v3 scenario).
Personally I don't put much faith in that as long as you have at least two in each group so they all have a buddy they can hang with. I think there are other things more important in integration than pure numbers. Personally I don't see that as an advantage.

My typical year is that I hatch around 20 chicks in the incubator in February, then using broody hens hatch out another 20 to 25, all these spaced out so I may have 3 or 4 different ages of chicks plus the adults roaming together. I have three different coops and shelters they can sleep in and over 3,000 square feet outside for them. I don't know how much room you have or how you would manage them. I don't know how old those pullets are you are currently integrating. My point with this is that if you want more I'd get them. I integrate more than one brood of chicks a year.

The major CON is that I know I have Mareks in my flock and this will very much be a canary in the coal mine situation. The 3 integrating pullets were purchased vaccinated and quarantined as chicks, and I planned to do the same with the hatchery chicks. Obviously I can't do that with a broody and have to assume losses will happen, which is hard emotionally on me. I am a sensitive person and I have a hard time watching my animals be sick. On the other hand, if a broody is raising them, I think that might help me to emotionally step back from things vs if I hand reared them. I wonder if anyone else feels that way about chicks raised by hens vs ones they brood themselves.
Not in the least. Broody raised chicks are just as precious to me as brooder raised chicks. I don't think it will be any easier on you. You will see the doing some very cute things growing up with that broody raising them.

No real question here, mostly just curious what others might do if they were in my situation.
With Marek's in the flock I see that you have two options. You can get fertile eggs from somewhere and let your broody hatch the chicks. Since they will be exposed to Marek's when they hatch you take your chances on how many, which ones, and when they suffer from Marek's. Or order what you want already vaccinated and keep them isolated until the vaccine takes effect. Anything else gets too complicated.

In your situation and as sensitive as you say you are, I'd break the broody hen and order some chicks. Part of that is to spare you from watching the suffering but a big part is to stop you from worrying so much as the chicks grow. I think your worrying about what might happen would be really hard on you. If you want some boys to eat order some boys along with the girls.
 

clickchicks

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Jun 6, 2020
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Yes to all off the above, breaking does sound like the better thing to do. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

I'll try some of the suggestions. She's going on 6 days wanting to stay in the nest. The other two hens lay pretty early in the day, so what I've been doing is locking the coop up as soon as they are done and kicking her out. The problem is its been raining here almost every day. She's so determined, she sits outside pacing in front of the coop getting soaked. They have a second shelter in their run where they can stay dry, but even when I put her under it with the others she waddles back over to the coop door. Admittedly I've been soft with her and let her back in so she doesn't get soaked.

I can put her in a crate during the day, I already have one set up in the coop. But that's the problem; the crate is there for the littles at night. Big girls still want nothing to do with them, so they are in a crate at night and a sectioned off area during the day (where they can be seen but not touched).

Do you think I can still break her if I'm only being strict during the day? I've tried going in the coop at night and putting her on the roost with the others, but she's always in the box first thing next morning, even if its just barely daylight.

Edit to add: the pullets are right around the 2 month mark.
 

rosemarythyme

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I can put her in a crate during the day, I already have one set up in the coop. But that's the problem; the crate is there for the littles at night. Big girls still want nothing to do with them, so they are in a crate at night and a sectioned off area during the day (where they can be seen but not touched).

Do you think I can still break her if I'm only being strict during the day? I've tried going in the coop at night and putting her on the roost with the others, but she's always in the box first thing next morning, even if its just barely daylight.
Most likely yes, if you persist in caging her as much as you can during the day, but it may take longer than the usual 2-3 days, as she'll probably sneak back onto the nest each morning, so that kind of keeps her hormones going.
 

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