Semi-Broody Hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dunnmom, May 20, 2017.

  1. dunnmom

    dunnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2016
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    I'm still pretty new at this. I'm trying to determine if my Buff O is about to go broody on me. This week for about 2 days, she had a pale comb and wattles, was picking at her food, being lazy. I don't think she laid during that time. Suddenly, her color is back and she's eating. I think she laid an egg yesterday, although I'm not certain. She's been in and out of the coop, but has been sitting longer than usual in the nestbox (up to an hour or so). I've noticed no sign of obvious illness. No worms, no external parasites, no weird poop, her crop seems fine. Could she be in a hormonal transition, as in semi-broody? She turned a year old just before April.
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Honestly, it doesn't really sound like she's broody, though the way each starts up can be individual. I do have broody hens who don't do the following (though rare!), but if she is not clucking under her breath or screaming at you, it could be something off internally, though she is fairly young. If the weather suddenly turned very hot, she may not have had enough water, hard to really say, symptoms are too vague. Watch her closely and make sure she has lots of cool water during the day.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Indeed, a hen can be showing signs of being broody for several weeks before she actually throws the switch to full broodiness.

    The first sign of a hen going broody is the broody cluck. No hen utters this particular vocal unless her hormones are beginning to transition. It's a very low, quiet, persistent, fussy "popping". At first, this may be interspersed with her normal vocals. This won't happen until a hen has laid about a month to six weeks worth of eggs. Each hen that tends to broodiness has an inner timer that determines how many days of laying before she will go broody. I have a broody hen that I can pinpoint the very day she will go broody from her past pattern of laying. It's the same each time. But not every hen will go broody. It depends on genetics, and some simply don't have the broody gene.

    The next sign is irritability. She may punctuate the "popping" with a fierce, frustrating scream. At this point, she is beginning to annoy the other flock members who may give her a peck as she wanders restlessly around doing her "popping" noises.

    She'll still be laying eggs, and you may see an accumulation of loose keel feathers in the nest with her egg, and you'll notice she's going bald along the keel bone.

    As she nears the point where she will stick to the nest, she will ramp up her "popping" and the scream will be accompanied by a fluffing out and fierce shaking of her feathers.

    This buildup can take anywhere from one week to three, even four weeks. Then she'll lay her final egg, glue herself to a nest, and she'll fiercely and stubbornly refuse to leave it, puffing herself up and flattening herself, even biting your hand if you try to touch her.

    When you know the signs, there can be no doubt you have a broody.
     
  4. dunnmom

    dunnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just watched some YouTube videos of broody hens making the signature broody noise you spoke of. She's not making those sounds that I know of. She's also not being grumpy with me. I collect eggs a few times a day, so there's rarely ever more than 3 in there at a time. I did notice that the other hens seemed concerned about her. They seem to want to guard her, rather than be peckish toward her when she went through her pale comb spell. My mom suggested she could have been egg bound.
     

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