Question about broodys

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LilyD, May 17, 2011.

  1. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    My sister has a Black Cochin that is broody and is sitting on three eggs. My concern is that the eggs are in a nesting box that is about three feet off the ground. They have three rows of nesting boxes with 4 boxes in each row 4 are at ground level 4 at 18 inches and 4 at 3 feet. Is there any way to move her and her eggs before they hatch? She will be at 21 days on the 23rd.
  2. Domestic_goddess

    Domestic_goddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2009
    I moved mine, she did very well! I had a buff orp that went broody and she was being picked on by the other hens, so I moved her into her own seperate pen and she is now a happy momma of 2! If she's been sitting for a while, she's probably dedicated to being a mommy, so I think she'll do fine! Whatever you do, do it sooner then later! Good luck!
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I moved one and had her abandon the nest. If you do move her, best do it after they hatch. They usually stay under the mama for a day or so anyway.

    However, the height is not a problem. Hens have hatched many a brood in an old fashioned hayloft, lots more than 3' off the ground. They can come down just fine. The only problem would be with one falling or jumping out without the mother following.

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2011
    I have raised American Gamefowl for 10 years and I have had to move many nests in that time period. AMG are very territorial (hens and roosters) and at times, other hens try to lay their eggs in the broody hens nest. I typically don't move them unless there is a problem or if I can foresee a problem like the chicks not being able to get out. Yes, you can to move the nest but I would not do this unless it is a necessary course of action.

    I have my advice posted below but understand this is what I do with my chickens. I look for the same signs and move them in the same way. This technique is a matter of experience and nothing else. It works (my best, honest guess) about 7 out of ten times I use it. Usually if it fails, it was my fault. Proceed with extreme caution and at your own risk. All hens are different and are very un-predictable during brooding. I will not advise you to or not to try this. I am only saying it works for me and you are entitled to be fully informed. (hence the long winded post [​IMG] just trying to help)

    IF you have to move her:

    It is best to chick for signs of "flightiness" in a hen before you attempt to move her. The best way to identify "flightiness" in a broody hen is to follow these three steps:

    1. During the day before you are moving the nest, check to see that she is still on the nest and is very still. Then, check to make sure that you can easily and quietly enter the coop or get close to the nest (not as close as you will be when moving her but about three or four feet away). Move any objects (quietly) that are in your path that you may step on or run into in the night that will make noise and alert her to your presence. You must be quiet as possible and not make any loud sounds.

    She will smell you and know of your presence but she also knows that humans have been close the entire time she has been broody and have not threatened her so your moving in the night is not threatening enough to run from and risk the death of her chicks this close to hatch. If ,at first, you attempted to move her from the nest and she refused, this may still work assuming you have not done this many times throughout the hatch. If you have then she may flight because she associates you (humans in general) with a predator that knows where her nest is and keeps returning. This makes you a threat, if this is the case don't attempt this. because she is more likely to flight when she thinks that her nest is un-safe for raising young. This is not always the case but I wouldn't risk it, personally. Do this about her eighteenth day but not every day. Contrary to popular believe, a hen has no actual concept of the time it takes to hatch her young. She only knows that some time has passed, so she will flight on the twentieth day the same as the fourth, from what I understand. This is why they will set on bad eggs until they starve, if they knew the time period they would quit around twenty one days. Some hens are different and gain determination each day of broodiness but only in the frequent broody breeds (like your Cochin) have I seen this and is not common in most heavy breeds.

    2. Check that she is in her nest and when you approach her see how she reacts to you. What I consider a "good-mommy hen" would growl at you when you are too getting close and puff up but not move her head from side to side when she first sees you but only when you are close to her in a very slight manner never going all the way from left to right. She should not be able to see well up close while broody and needs to move her head to re-focus her sight.

    This is because even though chickens have the ability to move there eyes, they use head movements to see closer objects (like most birds) and get a good view of there surroundings (or find an escape route if needed). Contrary to what I was told as a child, they can move their eyes, they prefer head movements when looking at objects within ten or twelve feet of them. This is because when they move there eyes, the eyes move out of focus, helping her see far away to watch for approaching predators, and it takes a few seconds to re-gain her (very good) eyesight after eye movement and is harder to re-gain after long periods of eye movement.. However, she will move there eyes if they are in a comfortable environment and are calm and are watching for approaching predators in the distance. She has been moving her eyes instead of her head to remain still and not attract attention (also to watch for threats coming). When a hen goes broody, she is usually somewhat calm and secure because they tend to lay eggs in a nest they consider either safe or hidden from most predators. So, she is unafraid of the environment she is in at the moment. Moving her eyes more frequently than normal has caused her eyes to be very out of focus and makes it harder for her to see up close. She should move her head in a very slight manner to re-focus her vision so see can see you better, likely not jerking her head or moving all the way to on side. This a good sign that she is not going to run at your company without a good cause but wants only too see you better, should she need too. She honestly doesn't quite trust you (and never will completely we are predators) and still has a natural fear of humans but over time has she has been de-sensitized to you and is less-afraid of you than her other predators (cats, dogs, etc). She knows that if you were a serious threat to her or the chicks you would have attacked a long time ago. She knows you and has a simple (not total) trust for you.

    If she is on the nest and has been broody for more than 16 or so days and you approach beware of her jerking her head very quickly, lowering her neck feathers, and clucking quickly and in a higher pitch than normal in an alerting manner (bawk-bawk-bawk-becack!). These are signs that she is ready to flight and do not proceed. In this case, I would give up on trying because she will most likely flight. In most cases *if she runs away from a nest of eggs, the hormone that causes broodiness stops being delivered and the maternal instinct does not occur*. She will not return to the nest because of the "predator" or because she knows how delicate the incubation process is and how unlikely it is that they will hatch after the loss of a heat source.(*not a confirmed fact but an opinion from my veterinarian of twelve years) Some hens differ and may go broody again but I have never witnessed a hen return to the same nest in 15 years, 10 of them breeding American Gamefowl which are among the broodiest breeds. Should you try this technique on her and she flights (at night when they are the most fearful) you are not going to be pleased so watch closely for this.

    3. Move away from her and look back and see how long it takes her to stop clucking. A "good-mommy hen" will stop when she thinks you are far enough away from her to be less of a threat, at the moment, and goes quiet to avoid drawing you or another predators back to the nest in the same way she has done the entire time on the nest. This is good, if she goes quiet when you are away from her (length differs with all hens) then she is not likely to flight and is dedicated to not leaving the eggs.

    If you go thirty, forty or fifty yards and she still is clucking loudly, then consider her a "flight-risk" (lol never knew I had a sense of humor) and proceed with caution when moving her. A hen that clucks loudly (bawk-bawk-bawk-becack) is making the same sound(s) she would if she were in a flock. They do this to warn each other of predators while foraging. Broody hens are not with the flock when on the nest and should remain quiet never making that kind of noise. This hen is warning a flock and is not focused on attracting attention and is not very dedicated to her chicks. Proceed with caution.

    ONLY if she has NO signs of flight do I ever proceed.

    Where to put the nest?

    The best place for her nest box to be is on the ground so the chicks can get out on their own, when they hatch. If you are going move the nest into a coop do so a week before the chicks hatch. Simply, move it at night (approaching quietly and calmly) and slowly cover the top with a soft thin sheet that she can't she through (dark color) and avoid letting it rest too hard or too tight on her. Be very cautious and careful about your footing (you don't want to fall she will leave the nest for sure). Then set her down lightly and raise the sheet very slowly. This works best if the coop covered in a heavy blanket that allows little light through but it is not necessary. This is best done on a cloudy, dark night. In the morning after the sun is up, observe from a distance not letting the hen see you. Always be quiet and calm around the hen and don't touch her or try to move the box anymore. Avoid any contact with the coop that causes loud banging or strong vibrations. She needs to remain calm. If she stays on the nest more than two days, I would call it a success!

    You can however try just leaving her where she is at the moment. If at all possible, this is always the best option. She chose the nesting sight and she chose to go broody there. She would only do this if she thought it was safe enough for her and her chicks. HEns typically chose sights that are confined and out of predators sight. She is happy where she is.

    IF you leave her where she is

    Make sure no other animal, except you, can get close to her. This includes other chickens. If she gets too frightened, she will leave the nest. That would result in all the effort from you and her both being for nothing. Also make sure she can get down when she wants to without any problem. She may need to come down for long periods if it is very hot outside and vice versa. When the chicks hatch, wait until the night of the 23rd day of brooding (some eggs take longer) and move the chicks and mama out of the nest.

    Take a cardboard box or milk crate full of straw or bedding. Place the hen in the box last. Put the chicks in quickly and try to stay calm. She will be upset but unless she gets VERY threatened, she is very unlikely to attack at night. They have good vision but can barely see in the dark. After the chicks are in put her on top and place it on the ground and leave. She may jump off the nest for a bit but she should return. In the morning take a stick and push the box on it's side. Then it's problem solved.



    Timothy in KY [​IMG]
  5. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    I would wait to move her until the chicks hatch. I used to do this and a few days before hatch, I started "locking" the hen and eggs in her nest to keep chicks/eggs from coming out and other hens from coming in. My hubby made me some barriers do put across the nest, but you can also tape cardboard over the opening. I take the hen out to eat and drink several times a day prior to hatch. Once all the chicks hatch, I've never had one that did not willingly go anywhere with her chicks. (I usually wait about 24 hours after the end of the hatch so all chicks are on their feet) Just be careful when you move them to do it at night when things are quiet so mom does not have a fit and accidentally trample the chicks. I would just put the chicks into the new nest first and then put mom over them and it usually worked out just fine.
  6. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    Thank you for all the help. She is safe and sound in the nesting box she is in. The other hens do come in the coop but they don't bother her they actually are trying to keep the boys out of the coop while she is broody. My main concern was the chicks not being able to get down but if they are moved once they hatch that should be good and then Mom will be able to take care of them on the ground. The funny thing about this is that not one of the eggs is actually hers. This particular hen isn't even a year old. She is about 7 months old but was actually getting aggressive because she had gone so broody. Once my sister let her keep the eggs she settled down and is taking care of them and is a very relaxed mommy.
  7. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    Sounds like she is going to be a great mom to the chicks:) Nothing cuter than a hen and her new babies,
  8. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Since you have decided to let her stay where she is until chicks are hatched, I would put a thick layer of something soft to break the fall of any chicks who might venture outside the nest... I put down a thick pile of straw... or even an old folded blanket... just know that once a baby gets down from that height, he won't be able to get back up.
    Usually chicks stay under mom for a day or two after they are hatched... not much moving around... after all are hatched, I would move mom and all babies down together myself and mom will find another place to keep them safe and all together.

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