Sick hen or broody hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by frog522, May 11, 2011.

  1. frog522

    frog522 Out Of The Brooder

    96
    0
    39
    Jun 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Normally my hens sleep on the roost at night (for the last year since I've had them). Last night I found one of them in the nest box. She didn't move at all when I poked, prodded, and pet her. This is very unusual since normally my chickens are finicky and don't let me touch them at all. She kind of makes this high pitch low volume squeel/growl sound when I put my hand close to her. She doesn't peck at me unless I try and put my hand underneath her. If i put her back or head or anywhere else she doesn't move. She hasn't moved from the box this morning ever since I opened the pop door.

    Is she sick? Has she gone broody? When and where is she going to poop? Is she going to eat and drink water?
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    39,739
    1,250
    516
    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    She's broody. She won't get off the nest but once a day to eat, drink and poo. If you want chicks, then give her some fertile eggs or day old chicks from the feedstore. If you don't, then you would need to break her. Search breaking a broody and you'll get lots of info.
     
  3. DAFox

    DAFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    382
    6
    111
    Nov 7, 2009
    SW MO in Vernon Co
    Spending the night on a nest is one sign of a broody. But, the absolute sure sign of a broody hen, in my opinion, is that she pulls out her breast feathers. I have a few that growl and puff up when they are laying an egg, but, they don't spend the night on a nest. I have one hen that has taken to trying to spend the night on a nest but, gets off when I disturb her. Her breast feathers are intact.
    The 9 that are setting on eggs (2 more than yesterday) all have pulled out breast feathers. The 5 that were broody earlier this year, all pulled out breast feathers. All the previous broodies I have had pulled out breast feathers. So, I'm thinking that proves it. But, I am sure that somewhere there is a broody that didn't pull out breast feathers....
    Dale-Ann
     
  4. tiffanyg2

    tiffanyg2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    668
    2
    121
    Apr 26, 2011
    SC
    Why do they pull out their breast feathers?? Ahhh I don't want mine to do that!
     
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    39,739
    1,250
    516
    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Funny you say that about the breast feathers.........

    This is what greeted me yesterday when I checked for eggs.
    [​IMG]

    And when I checked for eggs under her:
    [​IMG]

    She did bite me several times, she raced to get the fake egg back under her, her chest is plucked clean and has been for weeks, but then she laid her egg and popped off the nest like nothing happened. I've even let the eggs stack up thinking it would move her along in the broody area - but nope. So I've been referring to her as my non-broody.
     
  6. DAFox

    DAFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    382
    6
    111
    Nov 7, 2009
    SW MO in Vernon Co
    The hen pulls out her breast feathers so she has skin contact with the eggs and chicks. She is supplying heat. It wouldn't be too good to have the insulation of feathers between her and the eggs/chicks. She won't pull out her upper chest/lower neck feathers. I have to pick up the hen and check. It is her underside part of the breast that becomes devoid of most feathers.
    Dale-Ann
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    39,739
    1,250
    516
    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Quote:They do it for warmth/humidity for the eggs. Not all broodies pluck their chests clean, my last one didn't and she was a wonderful mother.
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    456
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:It's normal, they grow back, and it's not like they leave a huge bare area. Presumably it's to make better contact with the eggs for incubation.

    I can reach under mine easily by holding my hand along side the head and neck and reaching with the other hand. But they're used to my doing this.
     
  9. DAFox

    DAFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    382
    6
    111
    Nov 7, 2009
    SW MO in Vernon Co
    I've had a couple of broodies "practice" this year before really settling down to business. Pulled out feathers and the whole 9 yards. But, would not stay on the nest continually. One of those that was doing that for weeks, finally settled down and just hatched 7 - 2 days ago.
    Dale-Ann
     
  10. frog522

    frog522 Out Of The Brooder

    96
    0
    39
    Jun 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Last night when I found she was in the nest box, I put my hand under her to see if she could have been injured. I had let her out for 2 1/2 hours before nighttime. When I put my hand under her, I felt a large area of skin (not feathers), which I thought was really strange because it felt almost bare. But then again, I had never really been able to put my hand underneath her so I don't know if she normally sits like that, or if normally her chest/feathers would be resting on her feet. After picking her up, and moving her to the roost, she was unresponsive at first, but then stood on the roost. She looked normal, no signs of injury. After about 2-3 minutes she went back to the box and sat down again.

    Does it still seem like she's broody? She only had 1 egg in the box yesterday, which I took out from behind her so now she has no eggs to sit on. How long will she be broody if I don't break her "broodiness"? If she will eventually become "unbroody" on her own, I may let nature run it's course and I'll just be sure to make sure food and water is available to her. If there is a reason why I should break her broodiness (if it negatively affects her health), please let me know.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by