Possible broody hen...couple questions...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Jeffross1968, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    So, our BO has been sitting in the laying box on at least an egg or two for most of the day. I "think" she's going broody. She's all puffed up in there. I guess we'll know tomorrow for sure. But had some questions...

    1) We have no spot to let her be broody in peace. She's in one of 3 laying boxes in the coop. Can I just let her stay there? What are the pro's and con's?

    2) We're in western NC. While it hasn't been too cold yet, I'm sure it's only a matter of time, though the forecast is for a warmer than normal winter. What are the weather concerns involved with this time of year and a broody hatching eggs? Will the chicks have any chance at all to survive?

    3) If we decide to let her go through with this, how many eggs can we add, and what is the process? Just take some eggs and shove em under there? LOL!

    4) We have 8 other laying hens using those boxes...what is likely to happen if our broody is taking her daily food and water break and one of them go in there to lay?

    Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Hens have been hatching chicks and raising them with the flock for thousands of years. Some people isolate the broodies. The main risk if you isolate the broody is that she may not accept the new location and break from being broody. You are setting up a separate area so your work load increases taking care of her.

    Several things can happen if she hatches with the flock. These can happen, not that they are guaranteed to happen. I let mine hatch with the flock, for what that is worth.

    Other hens may lay in her nest, either while she is on her daily constitutional or even while she is still on the nest. You need to remove the new eggs daily for a couple of different reasons. You can get a staggered hatch. It takes about 21 days from when chicken eggs start incubation until they hatch. If an egg is laid part way through the process, it does not have 21 days until the others hatch and she takes the live chicks off the nest. If the eggs build up in quantity to where she cannot cover them all, some will get shoved out, cool off and die, then get moved back under her and others shoved out to die. Simple solution. Mark the eggs you want her to have and then check under her daily.

    It is possible another hen will be on her nest laying when she returns from her daily constitutional. The broody can get confused and go to another nest. I actually had one that did that once. I caught her in time and moved her back to the right nest.

    There are other things that can go wrong, but those are the main two from my perspective. A hen may try to crowd into the nest to lay an egg. If the broody resists (not all do) an egg may get broken in the scuffle. Occasionally another hen may try to kill the chicks as they hatch. Most broodies will protect their chicks and prevent that. Most broodies, and you usually don't have a hen that will try that to start with. But you are dealing with living animals. You just don't know for sure how they will react.

    The hen has a built in heater. She should be able to hatch the eggs and keep the chicks alive in the winter. It is obviously a rougher time than the optimum late spring early summer hatching season, but they should have a real good chance to survive and even thrive.

    The basic process is put a fake egg or a couple of marked sacrificial eggs under ther while you are collecting the eggs you want her to hatch, mark the eggs you want her to hatch (I use a sharpie), then give them all to her at the same time so they should hatch about the same time. Some people will go through all kinds of rituals to give her the eggs, either doing it at night or giving her one at a time so she can slide it under her. I toss her off the nest, put the eggs in, and walk away.

    Eggs and hens come in different sizes. You want the hen to be able to cover all the eggs all the time, plus have a bit of extra room in case an extra egg or two shows up. A really small bantam may have trouble covering four regular hen eggs. The number I usually use is a dozen eggs of the size the hen normally lays. I have seen a hen cover 18 of her own eggs, but that may be pushing it a bit, especially in the winter. Besides, she needs to be able to cover the chicks after they hatch and they grow pretty fast. All eggs may not hatch but I would not push it too much. I'd say no more than a dozen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  3. SagebrushMama

    SagebrushMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Virginia City, Nevada
    One of my BO went broody too, but the only eggs I let her sit on are the plastic ones from last Easter. There's really no reason she can't sit in the one box she's picked out. And if another hen goes in there during her break she'll just have to wait until that hen is done laying. Not sure about if she'll have any success hatching chicks out, but if she does and it's cold just gather up the chicks and bring them in. I put mine in a cardboard box with a light over them for warmth.
     
  4. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Well, unless there is some other reason she'd be sleeping in the laying box instead of roosting like normal, I'd say she's gone broody. I'll probably add a few eggs tomorrow, and let nature take it's course while keeping a close eye on her. This is our first broody, so we're pretty interested in how this will progress.
     
  5. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Uh...guess she isn't going broody? She was in there for hours and hours yesterday, and was still in there as of 1am, the last time I checked on her. My son opened the coop to the run this morning a little after 7, and when I went out around 9, she's roosting in the run. Gah!!! Eggs she was on are cold. So....I dunno?
     
  6. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wait a few days and see. Some new broodies can take a few days or even a couple of weeks to really settle down to it in earnest. Keep an eye on her, you might see her hopping back in and out of the nest box as if she's trying it on for size and thinking about whether she really wants to have chicks. At the moment she's probably just a bit broody. She could go either way.... [​IMG]
     
  7. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Quote:Is that anything like being "just a bit" pregnant? LOL!
     
  8. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LMAO! [​IMG]
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Is that anything like being "just a bit" pregnant? LOL!

    Well, being broody is related to hormones, so maybe more than you'd think [​IMG]
     

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