sitting hen starving?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Roast, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. Roast

    Roast In the Brooder

    Nov 27, 2007
    Tasmania Australia
    Wanted to ask about a hen that has been sitting on 3 eggs for around 3 weeks with minimal food and virtually no water.
    I have attempted to feed/water her by lifting her off the nest and letting her do it by herself, today I intend to put the food and water under her nose. The eggs seem to be developing as in they feel heavier and there is no rotten smell coming from the eggs. and I have never 'candled' before and am unwilling to disturb the eggs that much at this stage.
    Is it usual for hens to not feed/water while they sit? Do their bodies kind of shut down to conserve energy during this period?
    I'm also concerend about her if the eggs do hatch, as she hasn't walked for some time.
    Is it usual for hens to just stay put on the nest 24/7 when they're incubating? Or do they usually get off it now and then for a feed and a drink and a walk around to stretch the legs.
  2. NJfarmer

    NJfarmer Songster

    Jul 28, 2007
    New Jersey and Maine
    When hens sit on there eggs they do eat and drink. I have read that they do get up to eat and drink once a day and at different times. She might get off her eggs at night when no one is watching to eat. The best thing to do is put food and water near her.
  3. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX
    It's true, whether you see them or not, broody hens DO get off the nest at least once a day to eat, drink and relieve themselves.
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    That is usually true. I, however, did have an experience where a pullet's first time broody almost killed her and we had to employ emergency measures to save her. We had no rooster then, so no fertile eggs. She was sitting on air. We tried bags of ice under her, the open bottom cage, taking her off constantly to eat and drink, etc. She would not get off the nest herself.
    She would not give up till the third week, she suddenly seemed to quit eating and drinking entirely and her head would tilt upward like she had no control of her neck and she couldn't walk. We squeezed vitamin-laced water, plus squeezed a vitamin E capsule in her beak once a day and on about Day 23, she began to come out of it, but she was literally close to death from dehydration. She just seemed not to know what to do with herself. A few months later, she went broody again, but by then, we had a Barred Rock rooster and were able to put some BR eggs under her. She was an excellent mother and took a more balanced approach the second time around.
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    First off eggs wont get heavier. [​IMG]

    I bet she is getting off and eating when nobody is looking. I knew my broody got off once a day because I would find the cat dish empty, the water tipped over, foot prints on the ground and a HUGE stinky broody poo on the front porch. Judging by that nasty pile, I would have to say that their hormones do change their metabolism.

    If the food and water is close, it is less work for her to eat. My girl did lose about 2 lbs though while sitting, but she sat for 6 weeks to get one chick.

    Should have chicks soon if it's been almost 3 weeks. If nothing in the next week, I say lift the eggs, and put a flash light to the back side of them to make sure there is something in there. Won't take long to do. Just go out at night and take eggs and candle in the dark.
  6. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    If we sent broody poop to Iraq, we'd win the war...
  7. Hey Spotted crow: Yep broody poop is powerful stuff alright, nearly knocks me out when it hits me first thing in the morning.

    Roast: what breed is your little hen? Is she confined to her own spot yet or does she share the coop and run, I would think that she would have gotten up to eat even every second day,
    If the weather is mild and not too hot.

    They are quite quick, they dont muck around, just a quick broody poop, a long drink and some food then maybe even a dirt bath then back to work on her nest until the next day or so.
    I hope she surprises you with some cheeps soon.
    Just have some water and food nearby, have you got the nursery ready for the littlies.?
    Protect them from other hens and keep the nest down at floor level. Chick starter food and shallow water dishes for them too!!
    I love my broodies, I dont have an incubator!!yet.
    good luck
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Now, Spotted Crow, dont forget what I addition to the broody poop, we need to dump hot grits and Kudzu. Then the win is in the bag, LOL!
    It's true that most broodies do get off the nest on their own and in spite of that, do lose weight. My broody didn't get off and she was the exception. We were with her almost constantly during that time, but she almost starved to death. The second broody time, she did get off and eat and drink on her own, like you would expect her to and it was a more natural thing.
    I agree with silkie, I'd candle just to be sure there was something growing in the eggs. At night would work well.
  9. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    But but...I LIKE GRITS!!!
  10. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    Quote:Yeah, me too. Didn't quite understand that one, myself...

    Now chitlins are another story. Couldn't we drop all the chittlins and leave the grits alone?

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