Separating the broody or not separating?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by triplepurpose, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Recently (within the last week) I have an older Dark Cornish hen that went broody. I've read about the signs, checked in on her during the day, observed her behavior, and I'm convinced she's serious about it. What I'm wondering is if it's possible to just leave her in her nest box, stick a dozen eggs under her, and let nature take is course, or is it really necessary to separate her from the other chickens?

    Just for context, I have a flock of about two dozen layers of mixed breeds and ages and two young cocks, with an eight foot by eight foot henhouse with roosts and three covered nest boxes, a covered run thats about ten by twenty, with access to two rotating pastures each something like a thousand square feet. We also have a few rats (arrrrgh).

    I've read some things that discuss separating the hen in her own private facilities, and while it makes sense that this would be the ideal approach, I'm wondering what opinions/experiences others might have concerning this, and whether a simpler approach might not be possible for the busy small farmer who'd love a crack at hatching a few new mutt chicks. [​IMG]

    I've kept chickens for years and incubated a couple of times, but this realm is pretty much new to me. [​IMG]
    Thanks!

    Sky
     
  2. Dora'smom

    Dora'smom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have much experience---I currently have my first dedicated broody hen, and she is on day 15-16. What I can tell you is that we had her separate, in a tractor nest box, and we ended up putting her in our mixed, new coop because we had an egg theft. In the mixed coop, she sits, but the other chickens frequently try to come up and lay in the box she is sitting in. Sometimes she will jump down and eat/drink/poo, and then go to get in her box again, but someone else is in there, not on the eggs, but taking up much of the space. This has caused her to go sit in a different box several times. I just put the eggs under her again. She lifts and tucks the eggs under her when we do this, but it is an issue of loss of warmth for a period of time. We will see if we get any chicks from these two remaining eggs. Other than that, it is going well, but the confusion of nest boxes is a significant issue.
     
  3. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

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    Here are two threads of mine about my first (and only) broody that I set eggs under (the other broodies I broke). We tried to make her sit on them in a different location than the one she had chosen in the nesting box in the coop, but she would have NO part of it. The second thread describes different aspects of how we handled her closer to the hatch date and thereafter.
    My other hens would lay eggs in the nest box WITH HER IN IT almost daily, so I had to keep removing them (fortunately she was sitting on white eggs and my hens only laid brown and blue eggs at the time). When the broody would leave the nest for her daily necessities, other hens would pinch-sit for her on the eggs more often than not. Sometimes I had to move them OFF her eggs so she could get back to work! Good luck with it, it's a LOT less work than a bator and brooder system (but you don't get to witness the hatching, which is half the fun for me!).

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=367974

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=375989
     
  4. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks guys,

    After a little more research online, I ended up setting up a little nest area this afternoon in the unused pasture (i.e., separate from the others but not confined), but sheltered on the lee side of the henhouse and covered as well. I'm hoping this will be less confusing for both of us. I'll just have to see if she settles into her new nest box. I'll move her tonight and see what she makes of it.

    Unfortunately she happens to be a particularly cranky and touchy old biddy, and doesn't like being handled, but I think she'll make a cunning mama if given the chance.
     
  5. lauriej57

    lauriej57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a couple of broodies last year, every time I moved them, they stopped sitting.

    This year, I had one broody, I left her on the nest, marked her eggs, checked every day and removed the unmarked eggs. She quit sitting after a week. I had one more, a banty cochin who was just starting to act broody. I have a small hospital type area set up in my smaller coop, that I have a divider I can put in to keep it separate. Kind of on a whim, I set up a nice nest box in their, food and water, it's about a 3'x4' area, I put 8 eggs in there, put her in there, and she sat, and sat, until 21 days later she hatched out 3 chicks.

    If she does this again next year, I'm going to bring the first ones to hatch in the house the 2nd morning for a day or 2, to see if she finishes hatching the remaining eggs. She decided she needed to care for the 3 chicks. If it hadn't gotten down in the 60's that night, I might've been able to finish the hatch myself just by putting the remaining eggs under a heat light, but I hoped she would get back on them.
     
  6. tallyho

    tallyho Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a girl on some eggs right now and so far so good. She's kind of high in the order and no one bothers her. She's not had issues with anyone trying to lay eggs in her box. She's on day 15. In a couple of days I will try to construct a barrier to keep the others out of her space and the babies in. Then I'll move her to a little run we constructed inside their big run. I put a dog box in and it's covered. It's my 1st time for the hatching part but I adopted a mama and her babies and they did just fine in the little run and dog box.
     
  7. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi again! Thanks for sharing, guys. Just in case anyone is still following this thread, or for the benefit of anyone else who might be trying something similar, I felt I should offer a follow up...

    Here is an update on my situation:

    I tried to put Broody in a new nest in a separate pasture area away from the flock, but she didn't buy it for a second, and spent the whole next day trying to find her way back into the henhouse. Not a happy camper. Then a lightbulb came on late the next day and I grabbed some spare galvanized poultry netting, wire cutters, and a stapler and after wrestling with it in the henhouse for a few minutes, succeeded building a barrier around one of our nest boxes on one end of the row, in such a way that the hen could have access to the nest box and a small feeder and waterer free choice in a six-square-foot area. The other hens could still use the two remaining nest boxes to lay as usual. I put in fresh straw along with some DE (against mites) and placed three avocado pits in the nest. Then I rounded up Broody and after a quick DE dustbath set her in her little "pen." She eagerly jumped into the nest and went back to setting, proceeding to carefully tend and turn those avocado pits like they were her own. After a day of watching her to be sure all was in order, I swapped out the avocado pits for a dozen eggs from our other hens at night, and let her do the rest. She performed like a champ. 20 days later we had eleven (!) healthy babies. I made a ramp so that mother and babies could easily descend (the nest is about eight inches high off the ground), but that was a waste of time on my part because the babies just jumped/fell out of the nest anyway, and everyone got confused, so I had to step in and help the stragglers down so that they could all be reunited.

    Now we are keeping the mother and babies together in the ten by twenty covered run, while the rest of the flock has the pastures and the henhouse, and we've rolled up the chicken wire barrier so the henhouse is back to normal. Broody is continually proving to be an excellent mother. And I'm stoked to kiss goodbye the stinking incubator (with the nail-biting temperature monitering and painstaking adjustments, poor hatch rates, and deformed chicks) and the hassle of the brooder box! [​IMG]

    It meshes nicely with my general farming-related philosophy: Whenever possible, step back and let Nature do it--because Nature always knows best!

    Best wishes,
    Sky

    P.S. I was going to post a picture, but I can't figure out how at the moment...
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2010
  8. tallyho

    tallyho Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the follow up! And congrats on the 11 babies. I never ended up separating my broody from the other girls because they never bothered her. Again, I think it depends on bird rank. The only point I was worried was at hatching but I only had 2, not 11, to keep track of.
     
  9. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    Dora'smom :

    I don't have much experience---I currently have my first dedicated broody hen, and she is on day 15-16. What I can tell you is that we had her separate, in a tractor nest box, and we ended up putting her in our mixed, new coop because we had an egg theft. In the mixed coop, she sits, but the other chickens frequently try to come up and lay in the box she is sitting in. Sometimes she will jump down and eat/drink/poo, and then go to get in her box again, but someone else is in there, not on the eggs, but taking up much of the space. This has caused her to go sit in a different box several times. I just put the eggs under her again. She lifts and tucks the eggs under her when we do this, but it is an issue of loss of warmth for a period of time. We will see if we get any chicks from these two remaining eggs. Other than that, it is going well, but the confusion of nest boxes is a significant issue.

    If I were you, I would move her and the eggs you are trying to hatch. The same thing happened to me, with eggs I bought I had hens jump in her nest everytime she got up to eat and poo. At around day 15, I went in the coop to a find one of the eggs ( a very dark BCM) on the floor and one of my Porcelain Duccles smashed which it bleed all over my hand, because I thought I could save it. I just got sick over it and took all the eggs and put in bator and finished the hatch. Not a very good rate, edded up with about 6 chicks out of 18 eggs. Later I did let the hen hatch some babies but she was in a hoop house tractor with a big brooder box she was in heaven and did a great job.​
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2010
  10. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If I were you, I would move her and the eggs you are trying to hatch. The same thing happened to me, with eggs I bought I had hens jump in her nest everytime she got up to eat and poo. At around day 15, I went in the coop to a find one of the eggs ( a very dark BCM) on the floor and one of my Porcelain Duccles smashed which it bleed all over my hand, because I thought I could save it. I just got sick over it and took all the eggs and put in bator and finished the hatch. Not a very good rate, edded up with about 6 chicks out of 18 eggs. Later I did let the hen hatch some babies but she was in a hoop house tractor with a big brooder box she was in heaven and did a great job.

    I agree, based on my experience. You should definitely separate the hen from the others. You don't have to worry about the others going into her nest, or about the chicks getting harassed by your other birds. it can be hard to move a determined broody though (didn't work for me). You can see my above post for my own makeshift solution. I also found this website really helpful:http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Broody-Hens-1.html
     

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