Older hen acting broody but not setting eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by la femme farmer, Jun 21, 2017.

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  1. la femme farmer

    la femme farmer In the Brooder

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    I have a 7 year old Buff Orpington that has been doing the broody "cluck" and is in a constant state of puffed up. She isn't going into the nest boxes or trying to set a clutch - she just runs around all puffed up and clucking constantly. This is the third week she's been doing it, then today the rooster, who has ALWAYS been gentle with the girls (I have 11 hens) - has started picking on her.
    Any ideas? Thanks
     
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  2. Maeschak

    Maeschak Songster

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    Could she be sick perhaps?
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Isolate he from the flock and give her a restricted ration that is higher on protein. Supplement with darker greens. You will be breaking broodiness at same time trying to recondition her. Some of my hens of advanced age are prone to that late in the summer. Getting weight back up can help break broodiness once it starts. I do not know how that works but does appear real.
     
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  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I have a BO that has done this 2yrs in a row. Last year all spring/summer she walked around "1/2 Broody" no one bothered her, so I let her be. She still roosted, ate/drank, laid eggs, took dust baths with the flock etc. Just walked around like a heap of fluff all day clucking.

    This year she started again when the weather turned warm, no has bothered her, but she is now full blown broody. I have her caged in the run with food/water to try to break her broody streak. (This is to keep her out of the nesting boxes -no one was picking on her). She's out there now raising a ruckus. Hopefully over the next few days she will come out of it.

    Separating your girl would be best - if you have a kennel or cage you can place it in the run so she is near the others, but if they are still trying to get at her, moving her to another place would be in order.

    While your at it, check her over for lice/mites, some broodies don't take care of themselves (dust bathe, preen) and can become overloaded quickly.

    There are quite a few threads here on BYC and the web about breaking broodies:
    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    http://hencam.com/henblog/2012/04/what-to-do-about-a-broody/
     
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  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    When I am treating this, it is not my main concern to break the broodiness. Rather it is to treat the conditions promoting it. These older hens doing this have a hormone issue of some sort that is in part affected by hen weight. That is why it is more prevalent in summer as hens are more depleted and heat may restrict feed intake. My birds do not eat as much when it gets really hot. They do not require as much to stay warm but once it get hot enough they do not eat enough to lay or keep weight on.
     
  6. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I agree, there is a concern that a broody will not eat/drink and lose weight and condition.

    With mine, when she was 1/2broody, she still ate/drank normally. The last couple of days, she did not. I was going to break her anyway, but in the meantime, I would encourage eating/drinking - yesterday she wouldn't eat her normal flock raiser, so I gave egg with Nutri-Drench which she devoured. I was most concerned about dehydration.

    Since I have caged her this morning, she is standing which should help "cool her down" and she is now eating her normal feed this morning and drinking well. I did give her a treat of sunflower hearts (16%protein) as well. She will get some fresh greens and a few grapes for an afternoon treat.

    She's mad, she has a coveted porcelain egg waiting to be sat upon, but she will get over it:)
     
  7. la femme farmer

    la femme farmer In the Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2017
    Thanks all - I wasn't seeing that anyone had responded as the notifications were in my spam folder.
    She is still eating/drinking/laying and her underside is not hot like a full broody would be. I've examined her a few times and see no other issues. She's a big girl and there is no sign she is losing weight. We live in the PNW and their coop and run is under large trees so no heat issues here.
    My main concern is that the rooster is picking on her. He pecks at her head and chases her away from feed buckets and treats. He is normally the nicest rooster you'd ever meet - we call him the gentleman rooster, so this is what is causing me the most concern. Why would he try to run her off like that?
     
  8. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

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    As Broodiness is hormone driven and given her age I suspect she had an imbalance going on. The dietary treatment described by @centrarchid likely works as it naturally rebalances the bird's system while improving overall condition...similar to like management of menopause in human women.
     
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  9. la femme farmer

    la femme farmer In the Brooder

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    that sounds about right - thanks!
     
  10. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

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    I do agree that being what I call "1/2 Broody" is a hormonal imbalance. My flock has tolerated this behavior for the past 2 spring/summers from my BO. I think in part because my rooster is fairly patient and agreeable in nature. She never stopped eating and doing all her normal "chicken things", but occasionally she got on the head PBR hen's nerves with her clucking, fluffing and grumbling - this would grant her a sharp peck, but again the rooster would step in if any chasing even looked like it would start.

    Now...When she went full blown broody last week, I did separate her during the day so she would eat/drink well. She got her normal feed along with some greens, fruit and extra vitamins. I would block off the nesting boxes at night so she would have to roost with the others (an angry, grumbling roosting hen). In the mornings, I would cage her again to keep her from sitting in the nesting boxes. The last morning before she came completely out of it she was especially angry. She came out of the coop and launched herself off the ramp onto the rooster, feet first, screaming and carrying on like something crazed - only way to describe it was a total melt down hissy fit. He side stepped her, surprised - I thought he would flog her for sure, she was running around like she was possessed. He just watched her, but was making some deep warning sounds. She calmed down after a few minutes and I caged her. I believe if she had continued with her "fit", he would have laid a whoopin' on her. I think there is just so much a rooster will tolerate, even a gentle one.

    All this to say, even though your rooster has always been tolerant/gentle he is seeing something that concerns him (say...crazy hen) and he's protecting the interest of the flock.

    If you haven't done so, cage her in the run. This will still allow her to be part of the flock and she will be able to eat/drink without being chased away. Greens like @centrarchid says are always a good idea. Clip a small clump of greens to her cage for her to nibble at or finely chopped them up and place them in a bowl for her.

    Just my observations of what I saw with mine in the last few weeks. I'm still learning as I go:)
     
    la femme farmer likes this.

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