Should I move my broody hen and her eggs?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SaraJean0989, May 23, 2019.

  1. SaraJean0989

    SaraJean0989 In the Brooder

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    Hey so I had a hen go broody on Mother’s Day... putting hatch date next weekend and I’m wondering if I should move her and her eggs (8 of them) to a different nesting box on ground level? She’s doing great, she’s scared all of my other hens and my rooster into leaving her and her eggs alone. My worry is that after the eggs hatch and I have baby chicks again they will injure or maybe kill them selves when they venture out of the box she’s currently in. I have 7 nesting boxes that sit about knee height off the ground, she’s set up shop dead center.

    If I should move her to the ground- what is the best way to do that? 1) I don’t want her to turn on me (although she’s shown 0 aggression towards me) but more importantly I don’t want her to abandon the eggs bc they’re not in her “normal spot”
     
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Unfortunately, nesting in an elevated nest box has a bunch of risks...

    If you don't work, and can check on her every hour or so... you could leave her there, grab chicks that fall out and put them back under her until all chicks have hatched...then help her and the chicks get to ground level.

    If the nest boxes have removable dividers, you can remove them all, put a feeder and water up there, and wall her INTO the nest box area until you know all chicks have hatched. I wouldn't wall her up until a day before hatch.

    Or..... risk moving her. :confused:

    Each broody is different. I have some broodies that I actually have moved maybe FOUR times to totally different spots each time... they did NOT care as long as I set them down on a nest of eggs... they brooded tight!

    Other broodies you look at funny... and they abandon the nest.

    No way to know how she will respond until you try.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    What does your nest look like? How close to an open edge is the broody sitting? My nests are the same height as yours and my broodies hatch in them all the time. The only time I've ever had a chick fall out was when I let a hen hatch in a cat litter bucket standing up at a 45 degree angle. The top of that litter bucket as 7-1/2' x 11-1/2". The hen was too close to the side. Often the chicks that hatch first like to crawl up on Mama's back while they are waiting for the later eggs to hatch. When those chicks fell off they missed the nest and fell 4' to the coop floor. They were not hurt, that fall is not the problem. The width of the nest was. I retired that nest when that hatch was over.

    My regular nests are totally enclosed with the only opening being the open front where they go in and out to lay. I have about a 4" to 5" lip on those to keep the bedding in the nest. I've never had a chick fall out of those. I let the broody bring them off the nest whenever she wants to. I've never had a broody have any trouble getting all her chicks down safely.

    I don't know the best way to move a broody. The way I suggest though is to prepare a pen big enough for a nest, food and water, plus a small area to go poop. A broody hen should know to not poop in her nest but you may be cleaning food and water so give yourself good access. Make sure there are no openings big enough that a chick can get out and away from the broody hens' protection. It needs to be predator safe. Make sure it does not become an oven in the sun. Make sure that once you put her in there she cannot get out and return to her old nest.

    I like to build the nest so I can lock the hen in there. So move the hen after dark with her eggs with as little light and commotion as possible and lock her in that nest until late the next day. Then open the door and see if she accepts the move.

    For a lot of hens this is overkill. Even if you do this not all hens will accept the move. But if you do this, I think you have done the best you can.
     
    sourland and Josefina like this.
  4. Josefina

    Josefina Songster

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    I have found with my broodies that if they are brooding in a less than desirable nest, it can be much easier to move them once a couple of the chicks have hatched. I have had some "nest sour" hens who stubbornly refuse to brood anywhere except for this one nest which is her nest. When I tried to move her with her eggs she threw a fit and refused to settle, so I gave up and let her brood in her nest. After the first chick hatched, I tried moving her, her chick, and her remaining eggs to a safer nest, and she settled right down. I think having her baby talking to her and snuggling up under her helped her to settle down even though she wasn't in her nest anymore.

    Not sure if that will work for your broody girl, but it might. I've also noticed most of the babies I've hatched won't go exploring before day 2 so there isn't a super high risk of a baby falling out of the nest before then. (Of course, that doesn't mean it won't happen.) Whatever you do, I not sure you can completely eliminate all the risk factors. :confused:
     
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  5. SaraJean0989

    SaraJean0989 In the Brooder

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    Here are a couple pictures of my set up, 29A6AADF-D787-4E53-9F7C-4ABFA961F6B4.jpeg 97E43509-E8F4-439E-B165-1F1BD290C828.jpeg so it seems like the lip I have in front of my boxes is similar to, maybe even a little wider than, yours and chicks falling off won’t be an issue?
     
    starri33 likes this.
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    That looks very nice!

    And yes, I agree, that is a very safe setup!

    I would not be worried about the chicks hatching there! :clap
     
    sourland likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    You could just pick up the whole nest and set it on the floor.
    Do it at night, well after dark.
     
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  8. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    How do the hens get up there? Is there a ramp?
    Your hen has chosen what she feels is a safe spot; from what you write it seems she is right and can defend her nest there. I wouldn't move her until after she's hatched her eggs. Ideally I wouldn't move her at all but provide a temporary ramp for her and the chicks. You will probably have to assist the chicks up the ramp at roost time but after two or three days they'll get the hang of it.
     
    Alaskan likes this.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    By lip I meant a vertical piece of wood or whatever that holds the bedding in the nest, not a shelf out front. But yes, I agree with Alaskan, your set-up looks safe to me. Thanks for the photo, a good photo can clarify things. Those look like my retired cat litter bucket nest but you found a safer way to use them than I did.

    Nests.JPG

    As you can see, I have no ramps. If you look closely there is a short 2x4 sticking out from between the two top nests that they can use for a landing pad to get into the nests but most ignore that and just hop up to the nest opening. Another case of me overthinking things.

    My broody hens do not go back to the nests with their chicks after they leave the nest. They find someplace on the floor to take them overnight. Usually that is a corner of the coop but often the first night is more out in the open. It sometimes takes them a night or two before the hen learns they are going to get disturbed when I check on the flock and lock them up after dark if she is in the open. You could put a nest on the floor to see if the hen uses it. She might, she might not.
     
  10. SaraJean0989

    SaraJean0989 In the Brooder

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    My fiancé loves me enough that he actually surprised me and built the coop when I was out of town last year, very sweet but unfortunately did no research and screwed the boxes to the back of the shed
     
    starri33 likes this.

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