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Newbie question about broody hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MontanaDolphin, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. MontanaDolphin

    MontanaDolphin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, so I'm totally new to chickens. Quick background of my flock:

    I have 9 total...8 pullets, 1 cockerel. 2 of the pullets and my cockerel are who's left of my 1st batch of 6 hatchery chicks...the other 3 turned out to be cockerels, so they became dinner. They are 22 1/2 week old Barred Rocks.
    My other 6 pullets are Commercial Blacks, which are a Barred Rock cross (with what, the hatchery couldn't tell me...they came from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio). They are 19 1/2 weeks old.

    Of my 8 pullets, 2 girls started laying about 3 weeks ago...1 of my BR's and 1 of my CB's. The CB was 16 weeks old when she popped out her first egg, my BR was 21 weeks old. I have been gathering the eggs every day (and boy are they yummy!!).

    Now to my question...possibly a stupid one LOL. How many eggs (about) will a hen lay before she sits on them and becomes broody? I know the eggs are fertile...when I crack them open into a bowl, there's the bullseye to show me they are. I want my hens to hatch their own...I don't want to incubate because I don't want to go through having a brooder in my house again (the dust and smell was awful). But I don't want to leave the eggs in the nests if my hens won't sit on them to hatch them, and then possibly waste the eggs. So how do I go about this? Is there an age a hen needs to reach before she'll become broody? IS it based on the number of eggs in a nest? Thanks!

    These are my two girls who are laying:

    Sansa, my CB:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Boring Girl, my BR:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Your birds are in great condition. Hens go broody when their hormones tell them to do so. There is not a magic number of eggs laid or eggs in a nest that will 'trigger' a hen to go broody. Understand that there is a strong possibility that your hens may not go broody. That trait has been selected against in most hatchery produced birds - maximum egg production is the goal, and broodiness cuts down on that. That being said there are instances when such production birds do go broody.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I agree it's quite likely your hens won't go broody due to being intense hatchery stock. That said, there's always the possiblity. A hen will go broody when she's ready, if there's eggs there or not. When I'm trying to entice a hen to go broody, I use bait or sacrifice eggs to just stay in the nest. I have an abundance of eggs, so I just mark some with a sharpie so I don't eat them and leave them in the nest. If you don't want to sacrifice your real eggs, try golf balls, wooden eggs, whatever like that. Once a hen sets on the nest two nights in a row, I then give her the eggs I want her to hatch.


    I've had very poor luck with hatchery hens brooding and actually completing a hatch. I started keeping a seperate pen with bantam cochin hens and those are my broodies. I had one little lady hatch 8 large fowl eggs this spring--I honestly didn't think she could cover that many!--and have 5 more hatched. The thing with hatching your own, though, is I now have 6 or 7 roosters to deal with!
     
  4. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    You can tell they are broody when they don't want to get off the nest for treats, and may even stay in the nesting pancake position if you move them someplace else. If you want them to go broody and think having eggs in the nest will help inspire that, you can put duds in the nests (golf balls work). This is about all you can do and will allow you to continue collecting the eggs until you're sure you've got a serious broody. Here we gather our eggs regularly, give a broody a chance to decide if she's serious, then select eggs for her clutch ourselves. This works for us as we have so many birds laying.

    Pullet eggs tend to be smaller, and chicks hatched from them tend to be smaller, too. This is not necessarily a problem, but it is worth considering.
     
  5. SpoilMyPooch

    SpoilMyPooch Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh how we would all love it if there was a simple answer to this! But of course there isn't. In terms of the number of eggs that it takes a hen to sit on in order to become broody, it is my understanding by reading lots of information about this that one egg in the nest might trigger it (an external factor) or it could be that broodiness is a hormonal process (internal factor) that is not triggered by any external factors- a broody hen is a hen that continues to sit on an egg that she has laid- instead of getting up after laying the egg as most hens do. Broodiness is a cycle or hormonal surge that continues to build over a few days and weeks and in the early days a hen will continue to leave the nest- although it will be less and less frequent over time. I have read somewhere and I think it might be in Storey's Guide that when a hen is sitting on 6-8 eggs, it 's broodiness is at its height and from then on it will not leave its nest.
     
  6. MontanaDolphin

    MontanaDolphin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone for your replies!

    All but one of my girls is laying now...some days I get 7 eggs!! [​IMG]

    Anyhoo, what I've done is this: When I want to cook an egg, I poke a hole in each end of the egg and blow it into a bowl. Then I take a medicine dropper and inject hot water into the empty shell...shake it up, blow out the water, do it again. I let the empty egg shell sit on a towel for the day so it dries inside. I seal the bottom hole with some glue and let it dry. Then I painstakingly (no lie...it takes forever) insert rice into the empty shell till it's full (takes me about an hour to do this LOL) and seal the top hole. I have done this to 8 eggs (I know, I'm nuts...I shoulda just used golf balls hehe).

    Sansa sometimes will sit on the clutch of fake eggs and lay her egg with them. Some days she sits on the clutch for a few hours, other days it's only an hour. She doesn't stay put though, not past noon. The get let out to free range between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.
     
  7. SpoilMyPooch

    SpoilMyPooch Out Of The Brooder

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    MontanaDolphin,

    What dedication! Those rice eggs sound like a piece of modern art!

    Is there any sign that the hen is spending an increasing amount of time on the eggs?
     

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