1. Brooke n Trent

    Brooke n Trent New Egg

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    Dec 21, 2014
    I have one of my chickens that wont come out of her nesting box. We have had her for 1.5yrs n got her before she was laying. Penny is eating and pooping normally, well it looks like she is. She did have more grass in her stools on one of the days. I was worried she might be egg bound as she hasnt laid for a few days i have looked but cant tell. I dont know what to do or what the problem is. She has lost a few feathers but nothing like i see in the forums also read up on broody which she doesnt get angry when you feel under her for eggs. The only time she leaves the nest is when we take her out and put here in the main yard or put her on her roost at night. Please help as this has been going on for over a week now
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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Hello and [​IMG]

    She looks to me like she's broody; she's looking alert, not sick, and her position in the nest is like she's trying to brood. Can you feel her breast area, and see if it's bare of feathers? (It won't look bare even if it is, because the side feathers cover the brooding patches).

    There's often no obvious loss of feathers preceding a brood, yet they are lost nonetheless. Even light breezes can blow them all away before you see them. Some hens lose apparent clumps of them, almost like they've been shot, whereas others drop one here, one there, for weeks at a time, before going broody. Sometimes you'll only see it happen while she's preening or dustbathing, at other times she looks like no feather loss is occurring.

    Some layer breeds retain broody patches all the time yet never go broody, so broody patches don't necessarily prove the physiological process of brooding is occurring; in their case, that's due to the breeding selection for higher laying capacity, rather than actual brooding status, since laying ability is in part dependent on genetic predisposition to hormonal secretion duration and dosage.

    Not all chooks get angry when broody, it's not a reliable sign at all. Many don't react to people rummaging around under them. For mothering, I prefer hens who have a mild complaint at the most, no actual attacks, since very angry ones are often a danger to you and their own eggs and chicks. Been there, done that... Viciously defensive or aggressive hens make worse mothers than those that remain calm and collected about human intervention, in my experience.

    Still, the only way to know what sort of mother she'll make is by testing her out, and that risks chicks' lives. It's a necessary risk to take if you want to use her as a mother though, it's ok as long as you keep a close eye on her for the first few interactions with the hatched/hatching chicks, and remain ready to intervene if she hurts them or abandons them.

    Best wishes.
     
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  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC. Some broodies will be docile at first, then become more aggressive about pecking your hands the longer they sit. If you pick her up and take her a ways off, then set her down, she may just hunker down on the ground, then either go eat and run back to the box, or make a fast break for the nest box if she already has food in her belly. They usually have a huge greenish smelly broody poop before going back when they are off the nest. Then there is the characteristic "cluck, cluck, cluck" with a fanning of the tail feathers as they walk around. I hope she is just broody, and not sick or egg bound. You can feel inside the vent with a rubber gloved finger 1-2 inches to check for an egg without too much distress.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Hmm, my broodies always had healthy poops, not stinky ones. But yes, they were huge! Egg sized, some of them.

    Not all broodies show any body language or vocalize over it, I've had a few fly under the radar looking totally normal. Every hen is different.

    Best wishes.
     
  5. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What does she do when you take her out and put her in the yard? Does she eat, poop, run around for a minute or two then head back to the nesting box? If so, then that is classic broody behaviour. If she stays out for an hour or two then she is not completely broody.

    If she is broody then you need to consider your options - do you want to raise chicks or not? If not, then you need to stop her being broody, as some hens will sit almost indefinitely waiting for eggs to hatch, and can starve themselves to death in the process (extreme, but possible). However if you do want chicks then you have to decide if you will leave her to brood fertilised eggs (if you have access to any) or if you will leave her to sit on a fake egg and buy chicks (up to about a week old) to put under her in 2- 3 weeks time.

    As chooks4life said, you need to be ready to intervene if she does not make a good mother, so not only do you need to be certain that you have enough space in your coop for extra chickens, you also have to be prepared to raise chicks in your home for a few months should she reject them.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Agree with what KayTee said, and the sooner you decide this the better for her, since some will kill themselves waiting. 21 days is all she's supposed to be or able to be healthily brooding for generally, but some can go longer, though it's generally not too wise to let them go much longer and should be decided based on their health.

    Some of my hens have remained off the nest for hours without breaking off the brood though, it does depend on the individual hen. And it can vary at different times and seasons and under different health or social or environmental conditions. I know, that's about as clear as mud in terms of telling you what to expect, lol.

    I guess expecting exceptions to the rules to always be a distinct possibility is probably the best way to go about it.

    Best wishes and good luck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  7. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    chooks4life has got it in one - with chickens you should always expect the unexpected!

    I have only had one broody chicken, but boy was she a broody! She went broody four times in her short life, and raised some wonderful chicks for me. Once she went broody and nothing I did would break her, so I started to look around for day old chicks for her. It took me way longer that I expected, and she was on the nest for over 4 weeks in the heat of summer, but she wouldn't give in! I spent more time than I care to mention drip feeding her water every couple of hours, and boy was I glad when I got the chicks - within 48 hours she was off the nest and taking them all over the garden. I honestly think that if I hadn't found chicks for her she would have stayed on the nest for ever - she was that determined to have chicks!
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    It can get dire for sure, I had one hen I had to cull because she ran her health into the ground over more than half a year of remaining permanently in broody state. This hen was a family pet but she became a hysterical, anorexic mess until it was unkind to keep assisting her to survive in such a rapidly degrading state with no end in sight. While brooding they're burning through resources at quite a rate and even if you keep feeding them regularly they tend to both eat less and digest much slower while brooding, so resources are running out at a ratio greater than their intake, which is obviously unsustainable.

    I supplementary fed her, made sure she had water and food and was taken off the nest multiple times a day, tried everything I could think of to break her off the brood, but due to too many straight months of just not ceasing brooding, she was deteriorating physically and mentally to the point where I just had to cull her for mercy's sake.

    Problem is this one could only brood, not mother. Many times she hatched eggs, since I thought that should save her at first. As soon as eggs began hatching she'd abandon them to move to a new nest with unbroken eggs. Wanted absolutely nothing to do with chicks, not the first hen I've had that would only accept unbroken eggs.

    What an unfortunate failing of instinct there. That one was incapable of ceasing brooding, she lacked both the instinct to take care of the chicks and leave the nest, and lacked the biological cutoff mechanism that should have kicked in and stopped the brooding hormones circulating and sustaining the physiological state of brooding. Like a direct opposite of those hens that never experience the brooding hormonal state, really; she got stuck in it.

    Now I know that vets can do a surgery that cuts a nerve in their breast that breaks the feedback loop that produces the brooding hormone in response to contact with nest/eggs, but that was years ago that I culled her, learned that info too late to save her. Apparently in female turkeys in some commercial operations they cut this nerve to get maximum productivity out of them in terms of laying before culling them. Such surgery would be the only way to save hens like that one.

    Best wishes.
     
  9. Brooke n Trent

    Brooke n Trent New Egg

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    Dec 21, 2014
    Omg thank you all so much. I was new to this and when i looked i didn't have any replies. Penny sounds like what you are all talking about. She is still sitting on the nest n after about 15 mins max she makes a run for the nest We have chosen not to have any more chickens n we take her off the nest a few times a day n try n keep her out at night but she keeps going back. I can feel she is getting lighter n her poops are smaller but more offen when we r feeding her. Is there any other way to stop her from broody. I also had one of my other girls egg bound n my husband massaged the egg out n the shell was blocking the egg n not attached to it. Its been a full on 2 weeks but any other ideas for penny would be greatly appreciated. Thank u all for your help too
    lastly i have bought a powered as i was worries they might of had lice or something as 2 of them have hair missing n i thought I could see little critters. They do say bad luck comes in threes. Any ideas for that n will they grow there hair back
    Thanks again [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    To stop her from being broody, you should place her in a cage with minimal bedding or puppy pads, along with food and water. A small roost would be ideal, since she would roost rather than try to sit on bedding. Mine take about 5 days to break, but I put mine in an outdoor pen during the day with only a roost and a dirt floor. I had to break half of my hen this past summer--25 went broody, before I gave some of them away to a friend. Some are easier to break than others.
     

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