Spraddle legs on broody hen?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Shiloh Acres, May 17, 2011.

  1. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2010
    Has anyone had this?

    I have a buff orp that is just finishing up and beginning hatch. I originally gave her six eggs, but she has sneaked in seven extras (or someone else squeezed in and laid and she took over.

    She's moved the hay aside and is flat like a pancake covering the eggs on a wooden floor of her box. I haven't interfered with her much. I found a full crop from time to time, so I THOUGHT she was getting off the nest to eat. I just found out she had a benefactor who was bringing food to her (but never thought to give her water so I wonder how long she's been without?!)

    She's got water now, chicks are starting to hatch, but when I moved her off the nest to pull shells and a dead chick, I set her down and she stayed pancake-flat. Her legs are splayed out and behind her. [​IMG]

    She did manage to get them under her enough to move a foot or so.

    Anyone ever see this happen? She's the first standard of my flock to go broody (normally I let silkies hatch for me) and also a good hen, about a year old, and I don't want to lose her. Any suggestions? Thanks!!!
     
  2. kvmommy

    kvmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    Never heard of it, but gonna follow this thread.
     
  3. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2010
    I'm not too sure that I'm going to get an answer. [​IMG]

    When I checked her later, her breathing seemed not quite right, she's not her usual growly self, and her comb and wattles appeared paler than normal and felt a bit cool. Bearing in mind that nothing is really normal for her since she's a broody, and I have not been closely observing her in the past few weeks anyway, so maybe she wasn't as off as I thought?

    Anyway, I decided to take her just outside the coop and set her on the grass. She's still pancaked, and immediately starts pulling grass and building a nest around herself. So I lifted her up (legs still splayed) and gently moved them to a more normal position. While warning off one of the Roos who was just SURE she was "assuming the position" for him.

    Her legs splayed again when I put her down, so I just kept gently lifting her a few inches and moving her legs a bit. She finally got them under her after five minutes or so of this, and took a MASSIVE STINKY black gummy poo. I moved her immediately so she wouldn't sink back into it. After a few minutes, her chick must have been cold because it started peeping.

    Mama hen CAN still move. She took off into the coop, flapping wildly. Her nest is in the second bank (I'm going to move her down within a couple of days and evict the oldest chicks from their nest -- their mama has already abandoned them but another non-broody silky has semi-adopted them and sleeps with them in there. They aren't quite wanting to roost yet but ... My bottom row of nests are all full of babies so they will have to move out since they are the oldest).

    Anyway, Mama hen was frantic, and I got the chick gate open as fast as I could and she flew up into the nest. Second row is about 36" high. So she still has some muscle tone. Unfortunately, she also ripped half the shell off a pipped chick, but the membrane was still intact. He's been pipped for a whole 24-hour day so I hope he's ready. [​IMG] She was shoving eggs under her as fast as she could go.

    I hope she will be ok. I'll update if any more info. She has one healthy fuzzy, and one had hatched with a huge yolk sac and died under her. She may lose the one she ripped the shell from. So ... I will have to decide whether to let her set a bit longer and hatch a few more of the later eggs (if I allow it, I think I'll have to make her get off the nest and stretch and walk a bit at least). Or I may see if I can find some newly hatched chicks for sale to slip under her. I lost all my barred rock hens, so that would suit me better and probably be better for her too.
     
  4. gumbii

    gumbii Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2010
    bell gardens, ca
    i was going to suggest giving her exercise... sounds like she just doesn't have the strength to get up out of the nest... i would work with her every day a couple of times a day if possible... hold her by the tail and walk her a bit... that's how the people that fight roosters build up their legs...


    good luck and keep us posted...
     
  5. kvmommy

    kvmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    I'm glad she can walk! It sounds like shes overly dedicated. Definitely keep us informed.
     
  6. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like you've got quite a production happening! I only let one broody hen go for it at a time, and I have now learned it's best to isolate her in the "people" side of our coop (ha!, there are almost always chickens in the people side for one reason or another). In the morning, I take the broody off her nest and put her outside for a few minutes. She'll growl and fluff and stagger around a minute, then s-t-r-e-t-ch wings and legs, and then RUN to the water (she HAS water in her broody area, AND food), will drink for about a minute. I throw some scratch for her, she gobbles that up, delivers a great big broody poop, and then runs back in to her nest. I have a truly dedicated BO now, and I swear she would never leave the nest at all if I didn't do this. 21 days later, I think she would have a lot of trouble walking, too. She's currently hatching, 8 of ten have hatched as of this am, so this doesn't seem to be detrimental.

    eta: I've heard stories of broodies starving to death because they wouldn't leave a nest - even a nest of infertile eggs. So - while I'm generally all in favor of allowing things to progress as nature intended, maybe in this case not such a good idea. I'm curious about how "wild" chickens manage this - does a rooster bring food to the hen, or do hens share duties and one sit while another eats/drinks/etc.? Anyone know?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
  7. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2010
    Thanks fo the replies. I wonder about "wild" chickens too. There used to be a feral flock near my house, but I don't know how they managed nesting details.

    I've had lots of broodies, usually bantams but some standards as well. I've had bantams sit on rocks they would find and refuse to give up for months on end, but they were always fine. Maybe lost a bit of weight, but not much. The only broody I ever had trouble with was one that nested in a cactus thicket and I didn't miss her ... She had a nasty infection from puncture wounds when I found her. She was sitting on dozens and dozens of eggs ... Apparently a number of my flock must have contributed.

    I don't have THAT many chickens now ... Just I guess springtime has them all inspired.

    Pancake is still flattening herself, and the chick whose shell she kicked off didnt make it. The healthy chick looks wonderful. I haven't found any day olds yet. No more pips. Pancake is feeling better though I think. Her color is better, she's growlier again, and she's eating well.

    If she goes broody again, I'm going to provide her with a very deep box packed very full of hay -- I think her digging down and flattening herself on the wooden floor of the box contributed to the problem.

    My nestboxes are pretty large -- probably over 30" in all directions, so I can just put a door on the front and the hen (usually silky so smaller too) can have plenty of room to be isolated and protected while the chicks are young, with food and water too.

    I just didn't realize she wasn't getting off the nest at all. I've has geese do that, and I give them food and water, but none of my chickens have done that before. The full crop from time to time had me fooled into thinking she was taking care of herself.

    I do hope she recovers. She's waaayyyy skinny too. NEVER had such a sharp keelbone on one of my hens before. [​IMG]

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  8. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2010
    Just another update ...

    She's standing and scratching when I take her from the box ... It's taking less time to get her legs under her each day, so there is progress.

    Today I put the chick on the grass with her, so instead of being in a hurry to get back to her nest she searched out feed for the chick, threatened nearby flock members, scratched at the dirt, and acted a bit more chicken-y. I stayed with her to protect her from the attentions of the roosters, and because she's still not very mobile. I let her stay out until she decided to sit on the chick, then returned them to the nest.

    She still looks terrible, but the more normal behavior is encouraging.

    She's also calmer. Maybe she has figured out that I'm helping her. She gave me only one very small light nip today.
     
  9. kvmommy

    kvmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    Thats very good to know!!
     
  10. FuzzyButtsFarm

    FuzzyButtsFarm Rest in Peace 1950-2013

    I have a 20wk old Leghorn/ RIR cross that went broody 3 wks ago. She's in the pullet coop and no roo so the eggs are sterile. I gave her 4 fertile eggs from my EE and she's been sitting on them ever since today is day 18. Every day she gets off and while she does one of the other hens lays in her box, the favorite one naturally, while she's taking care of buisness the other hen keeps her eggs warm and adds one of her own. lol I have the eggs marked so everyday I take the extra ones out. I'm not sure if this is normal but hey it works for her.

    [​IMG]
     

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