Thoroughly disgusted w/broody hens! Need advice, please

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by 2overeasy, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Okay, first I'm still fairly new at this. Got a small flock of grown hens about 2 years ago. Then last year got 15 chicks from MPC and 10 more from Tractor Supply. Other than a few wrinkles (lost 1 to pasty butt) that went well, for a newbie.
    This year I got 10 more from MPC, lost 1 at 5 weeks to weasel. Problem fixed.
    Now I'm dealing with broody hens. 1 BO successfully hatched out 5 eggs. Kept them in till 2 weeks then let them go to free range with others. Momma quit watching them at about 5 wks but they are fine except lost 1 to a cat :-(
    Now I have 2 others. I posted about them a couple of weeks ago.
    Cochin nested in nesting boxes, which as a newbie and not knowing better, put them up too high (about 3 ft) with a long ramp. Knowing that chicks would surely die falling down the ramp, After 10 days of sitting, I moved her to a large dog kennel on hen house floor. Smooth. Went straight to setting. Left her there with water and feed for 3 days. This morning around 9:30 I opened kennel door, thinking she was ready to move out when she needed, and trusted she'd go back. Wrong! Just went to check on everyone and feed some treats and found her up in original nesting box - sitting on NO eggs - and her original eggs were cold. So I have no idea how long she's been out. I put her back in kennel anyway.
    2nd broody is an EE who nested under side porch - way up under - so I moved her to my chick brooder box. checked on her a half hour later and she was sleeping next to the eggs. I moved her on the eggs. No problem. Next day I opened lid to brooder box so she could come and go, but after an hour she wouldn't go back. I caught her and put her back on eggs and closed the lid and haven't opened it since. She's on the eggs - 9 total - but a couple aren't directly under her and she seems to have no interest in pushing them back.
    I'm thoroughly frustrated! Let me tell you, I have poured over these forums for answers since I discovered it over a year ago, so I do read and research. I have books on chickens with worn out spines. But I simply don't know what to do here. Should I continue to let Cochin sit on eggs that I know had gotten cold? She has about 6 days left to hatch date. Or should I take her out, ditch the eggs, and try to stop her from brooding? Or should I take those eggs tonight, putting freshly laid eggs under her and wait it out for another 21 days? She can't count days, can she? Will she sit there for another 21?
    And what about the EE??
    I truly value everyone's expertise here - I sure don't have any!
     
  2. La Mike

    La Mike (Always Slightly Off)

    Nov 20, 2009
    louisiana
    First thing is moving a broody hen can have bad consequences as you seem to have found out. Sorry for you on that.
    Just because the nest is a little high doesnt neccesarily mean the chicks will fall out and die. Mine is about 4 feet high and the mommas get them down just fine.
    I personally would candle the eggs that are under your broody now to make sure I wasnt kicking out good eggs. If they indeed arent good and she wants to sit I would give her a reason to be sitting [​IMG]
    As far as the EE she may just not be seious about being broody [​IMG]
     
  3. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Thank you. I candled her ( the Cochins) eggs at day 11 - she originally had 11 - and 7 were good. Now, of course, probably none of them are :-( However, I will leave her there til tonight. I will candle again, and if they are not good I have 15 other hens laying eggs with 2 roosters. So I can definitely "give her a reason to be sitting!" So she can't count, right? She won't notice she has 21 more days?
    As to the EE, I think I'll leave her for now. She had 9 eggs and only 2 are showing (she originally had 23 at day 11 when we candled!). Except for probably those 2, the others never got cold. She is in a very large and secure chick brooder box with air and food and water and space to move, if she wants. She doesn't seem to want off the eggs, though.
    Pfffft!
     
  4. La Mike

    La Mike (Always Slightly Off)

    Nov 20, 2009
    louisiana
    No I havent noticed that any of mine could count lol I do know sometimes they will kick an odd color out though.
     
  5. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    This broody thing is a real "learn as you go" kind of deal, isn't it? And it changes with each hen's individual approach and personality. I agree with the advice about candling the eggs - they may be ok. The approach I've taken is that - if a hen SEEMS broody, I move her to a nest on the floor of my little broody room, which is actually my small feed room inside the coop, and make sure that she is truly "dedicated". If she seems to be, after 3 or 4 days I put the hatching eggs under her. I take her off the eggs for a few minutes each morning, to let her out to poop and drink and take a quick dust bath before I let the other hens out, and then back to her nest. That way she can't decide she wants to return to her old nest, but she can see and hear the flock, and can hatch and raise the chicks for the first few weeks in this area. It's been pretty easy to then integrate her and her chicks back into the flock since they could see eachother through a screen the whole time.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I won't claim to be an expert, by any means! But maybe I can help -- some, at least.

    First, I'd leave the eggs alone that got cold. I did this once myself and had them hatch, and I read about the same thing happening on here all the time. Evidently, the chick can slow down its development, to a point, but continue to develop and hatch. I'd also leave the EE alone -- and hope she will move eggs around enough that everyone gets enough heat. It sounds like she's at least beginning to accept her new nest. And I'll tell you some of my experiences, for what it's worth.

    I learned very quickly, the hard way, not to expect much if I move a broody, when one freaked out and abandoned the nest -- and wouldn't go back to the nest even when I returned the girl to her original nest, right away. I did move one successfully, once, by moving the entire nest (a plastic bin) and nesting material into a broody pen, in the middle of the night. My broody pen is large enough (5' x 5' or so) that they can walk and dust bathe and such, so I only go in to tend to food/water, and only when she is on the nest. I've never tried putting one in a cage that was only big enough for the nest; I can see why this didn't work when she didn't originally choose that cage. They just don't like being moved.

    But mostly I end up letting them set wherever they chose for themselves. Now this has its own problems, of course, and most don't recommend it, let me say right away. But the advantage is they chose it so they seem more likely to stick with it. I've successfully removed all the eggs and replaced with golf balls, then saved eggs of my choosing for a few days, marked them with a Sharpie, and replaced the golf balls with marked eggs at night. I've even replaced eggs or golf balls with store bought chicks at night and had her accept them. I'm here all day so I can check every few hours, remove any added eggs, put her back on the eggs she's supposed to be hatching when she's returned to the wrong nest, etc. I think often when they return to the wrong nest it's because someone else is/was in the "right" nest so the eggs were probably being set on for longer than I think. The only disastrous hatch I've had was when a broody killed her chicks as they hatched -- I caught her as she killed the last one.

    I've also just let broodys set when I was between roosters. When this happens, I take them off the nest every time I'm in the coop and make sure they get moving enough to get food, water and exercise, which sometimes means "chasing" them a bit, setting them outdoors and blocking the door for a minute, etc. (Never had any luck at all breaking a broody so I don't even try, except in the sense of giving them fertile eggs or live chicks.) I just had one give up the other day after setting for a couple of months; I once had one set for four months. I know they sometimes quit before 3 weeks but have not experienced this.

    Honestly, if you can't move them to a pen or small coop big enough for them to move around some in, I'd just let them set where they choose. Maybe make plans for a pen in the future. I'm lucky enough to have a large coop that my broody pen is inside of -- and I rarely use it because I also always have the mamas raise the chicks in with the flock. No disasters doing this, so far, knock on wood. I love it because the chicks are already integrated when mama quits mothering, and of course I love seeing that mixed age flock out foraging together.

    I'll give you a link to an article about broodies, although chances are you've already seen it, and I don't do everything the same as the author does, anyway.

    http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Broody-Hens-1.html

    I like my two overeasy every morning, too! Good luck!
     
  7. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Yeah, definitely learning! I've heard so many people say they LOVE broodies and letting them do the work, and how much EASIER it is... I swear I've had more headaches and worries from them than I have when I've ordered chicks. I'm like "all chickens, all the time" now. Thinking about them, reading about them, checking on them, trying to come up with new solutions. My friends now call me the "crazy chicken lady!"
     
  8. BigDaddy'sGurl

    BigDaddy'sGurl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2010
    Wilkesboro NC
    If it is any consolation, I have a silkie hen who is really good at "sitting" eggs...too good. She is now broody and she just left her last group of chicks a little over a month ago, but she has been on a new set of eggs for 6 days or so now. [​IMG]

    I don't want any more broodies!!! I'm sick of chicks and when a broody hens hatch them, I can't find it in myself to sell them until she tires of them so I get stuck with them for weeks or months!!!
     
  9. paddy farrell

    paddy farrell New Egg

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    Jun 1, 2011
    try a tea spoon of whiskey or brandy, my mother did and they stayed on nest. paddy farrell ireland.
     
  10. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Ddawn - yes, I have seen the link and read the whole thing! I have it bookmarked.
    Paddy - Now, is the whiskey for me or the hen? ;-)
     

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