So how long will she stay broody?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Northern nurse, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Northern nurse

    Northern nurse Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a young pullet who has decided that this artic weather is a fine time to go broody! She is tying up the one nesting box the other 4 girls want to use, there were 3 of them crowded in there this morning. ( there is another identical nest box, they just don't want to use it) on the positive side, she is keeping the eggs from freezing on the days I leave before the girls have laid. On the negative side, she is making it hard for the other hens to lay and I don't know when she goes to eat/ drink, anytime I look, she is in the nest box. Will she give up after a while when her eggs keep disappearing? I will probably let her raise some young in the spring but it is just too cold right now. I know I could probably try to "break" her but just wondering if she will give it up herself.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    She will give it up eventually . I don't see it as a bad thing. Many peeps don't want broody hens for various reasons , one being that she no longer gives them eggs. You are having frost free eggs so you are benefiting now. Yes they do sneak out to eat some and drink. I have read that they can go long without. Just remove her and put her next to food and water when you pick up eggs. All will be good. The chicks are probably using same nesting box tandem. Then next one jumps in. I have seen this in my small group. without issues.
    ENJOY YOUR CHICKS. [​IMG]
     
  3. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sure, she'll give it up. Three weeks is the usual hatching time. They seem to stay about an extra week and a half around here if the chicks don't hatch. So if it doesn't get colder, then she may keep brooding for about 4 1/2 weeks--all the while keeping your other eggs from freezing. If it gets colder, she may come off sooner. It depends on the hen.

    She's actually a slave to her hormones. When her hormones take a dip is when she'll come off the nest and then usually start laying again in 10-14 days.

    All my hens have eaten when they are broody. Have I seen them all eat? No, but I've seen a few. No hen can go for three weeks without eating. Her hunger will get her up off the nest. You just have to have food out all day long for her and take water out at least two times if it's freezing in the coop so she can have some to drink in the late afternoon if she missed getting water before it froze after you took it out in the morning. Sometimes mine don't get up to poop and just do it on the back of the nest and shove it to the back of the nest. If she's pooping, she's eating.

    When there is another laying nest available and the hens won't use it and they squish all together, I think, "Well, I'm sure that's some behavior I haven't read about yet that is totally normal in the wild or in their instincts somehow." I guess, if they didn't like the situation, they would move to the other nest or quit laying. I saw a hen in my coop yesterday lay an egg right on top of another hen's head. 9 nesting boxes, 2 in use and one of the hens insists on squeezing into a nest and laying an egg on top of another hen??? Maybe they do that because they know it's a safe nest if another hen is laying there??

    Hens are very intelligent. Feel free to watch your little gal, but I've never lost a broody hen (about 30 hatches at least) while on the nest to starvation.
     
  4. Northern nurse

    Northern nurse Out Of The Brooder

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    Well that is good to know, I did take some food out to her tonight, some scrambled egg, cheese and raisins as well as some fresh water, she ate all the food and did drink some so I felt better about that. I do worry about her getting cold at night with no one to cuddle up next to, I live in northern Maine and we do -20 to -30 some nights. I think if it dips really cold, I will try moving her back onto the roost at night, she will probably go to the nest again in the morning but at least during the night she will enjoy some body heat from a friend. I wouldn't mind letting her hatch a brood in the spring, just too cold right now.
     
  5. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One down-side to letting her brood now is the time frame that Spangled mentioned. Hens significantly reduce their food intake when they're broody. If she stays broody for 4 to 5 weeks, she'll lose quite a bit of weight, especially during the winter when she's also burning fat reserves to keep warm. If she goes broody again in the spring, she could very well enter the 2nd broody period in poor body condition, putting herself and her chicks at risk. In light of this, it may be prudent to break her winter broodiness.
     
  6. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you did that each night for a week, it might break her broodiness streak.

    Song of joy is correct in mentioning your hen's second broody period in the spring. He comment is right on the mark.

    Also, I'm wondering a bit if your coop has supplemental light in it. Sometimes supplemental light at this time of year (January) is what puts a broody hen (in the northern latitudes) into business. If you do have supplemental light in your coop, you'll need to figure out how to turn off the lights in the spring without giving your hen less "daylight" than she is used to having. Meaning ... if the supplemental light is turned off in April when the natural days are about 12 hours of light, but your hens have been getting 14 hours of light wwhile the days have been getting longer, she's suddenly being told that her day is 2 hours shorter, but still the days are getting longer until June 21 or thereabouts. So, since all hens are individuals, I'm not sure how she'll take it, but hens more often go into broodiness when days are getting longer or when they are really warm. Just me going on and on ... you probably don't have supplemental light in your coop. :) Additionally, you may have a hen that goes broody regardless. I have had many of those; they're worth their weight in gold.
     

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