nutrition for broody

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by 7&8, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. 7&8

    7&8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2010
    Hi all - Apologies for not searching the forums more for an answer to my question, because I know it's probably out there, but...

    I have a broody bantam Barred Rock pullet sitting on seven eggs - probably day six or seven. By all appearances, she's in it for the long haul. I am questioning whether this one is leaving the nest at all. Part of me wants to let nature take it's course, and not worry that she'll starve herself of food & water. She has easy access to both food & water in the coop she's in. The past couple of days, I've made up a little yogurt, water, and hard boiled egg yolk mash for her, which she's eaten when I've put in front of her in the nest. I haven't found any broody poops in the nest or on the floor of the coop.

    Apart from wondering if she's eating & drinking on her own, and whether or not I should be interceding with special food deliveries for her, my real question is: what should a broody be eating? High or low protein? Layer pellets? Cracked corn?

    She's in a large coop, in a nest box with a flap of material over most of the door, so she's pretty well protected from drafts. It's Maine, so, it's fairly cold.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. bobbieschicks

    bobbieschicks Chicken Tender

    Jun 24, 2011
    King George, VA
    My Coop
    I'm curious about this too. I have a 25 week old EE who went broody 3 days ago. And hasn't seemed to leave her nest at all in those days. I keep taking her off her nest once a day and putting her out in the secured run next to the water to make sure she is drinking something. I've given her some food in my hand and she's scarfed it down - she normally wouldn't come near me - so I think that shows how hungry she must be. She has food and water in the area where she's hanging out. Yesterday I noticed she moved her clutch off the straw nest and into the corner more so I think she felt a little unprotected where she was.


    Anyway I hope you get a good answer. I put a little of everything in her feed dish - layer, scratch and grower feed. I did search, but most of the info focuses on breaking a broody. I'll subscribe and hope you get some responses - other than mine :)
  3. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    For the most part I let nature take its course and have had good luck. I figure that chickens have the system perfected and don't need me meddling or implying that they don't know what they're doing by forcing them to get up off the nest. Mostly, I'm just afraid of messing with the system and messing up the hatch.

    I do, however, meddle by moving them to a separate location sometimes. If I have separated them from the flock in a broody box, then I set the food so close that she can eat it while staying on the eggs, then the water is 5 inches away from that, but she has to get up to drink. (It's a space issue in the broody box.) Truthfully, my broodies eat and drink very little while on the nest. It looks like nothing has happened with the feeder and waterer from day to day. A couple of the girls didn't even get up to poop. It was found after the hatch, all pushed up in the back corner of the nest, dried.

    If a hen has run off to hide her nest somewhere other than the coop, then I usually haven't a clue what she's up to. One hen, though, made a nest near the coop, about 25 feet away under something. She would come off the nest squawking and running to beat the band, eat from the feeder that she usually eats from, take a drink, look around, chase off a few hens. At first I didn't know why the hen kept doing that squawking and running trick. I finally found her nest just a few days before the hatch, though I didn't know at the time how close it was to hatch.

    One thing that makes me not worry so much about them not eating very much is that they are just sitting there. They don't need as many calories as usual because they aren't scratching or running around. For all I know, their hormonal condition that causes them to brood could change their metabolism, too. I know it changes their attitudes and personalities. Also, I figure, if they're hungry, they will eat. I do worry, but so far it's been unnecessary worry on my part.

    In the broody box, I usually feed mostly whole grain to keep the poop firm so that there's less chance of soiling the eggs. About half way through the 21 days, I put in some layer feed in half of the bowl so that she can choose whether she wants regular feed or grain. In reality, chick feed would be just fine as would grower. She doesn't need the extra calcium and phosphorus if she's not laying any eggs, but a few days on layer isn't likely to be a nutritional detriment. Then right before the hatch, I put unmedicated chick feed in the bowl.

    The broodies eat the unmedicated chick feed along with the chicks until they separate. I figure she doesn't need layer feed until after she starts laying again.

    Anyway, that's what happens here. The thing is, though, that all chickens are different, so my experience is only an anecdote--interesting, maybe, but not really all that useful because it's just what works in my situation with my hens. In the end, we all seem to have some sort of system that we finally settle into that feel right and works in our own situation. It's surprising how many different, yet effective, methods and tricks there are for us to help facilitate a broody hen's hatching out of chicks.
  4. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY
    I always give my winter broodies extra protein foods..they are struggling to keep warm and keep their eggs warm..They are burning alot of energy just sitting there. In the Summer its a piece of cake...i just broke a broody yesterday..she sat for 28 days and didnt hatch 1 egg...too cold and she lost weight..which worried me alot....she ate but not as much as she should have...scrambeled eggs withe scrath and wet warmed mash.
  5. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    For the most part, I could echo what Spangled said. However, I don't put feed or water close to the nest as the hen needs to get off the nest, stretch, eliminate, maybe dust bathe, eat, drink, and poop. My broodies eat what they normally eat and have no problem with me leaving them completely alone to do their job. They will leave the nest when they need to. Don't feed cracked corn or anything that is low in protien. Just your normal feed is fine.........Pop
  6. 7&8

    7&8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2010
    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful, thorough responses. My intuition was to do as you suggested, Spangled & Pop, leave things be, and let nature take its course. The pullet is certainly in good health and has easy access to food & water.

    I appreciate the information on 'Broody Nutrition 101' from all - maureen in Maine

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