Variations in Broody Hen Behavior Related to Roost Site

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by centrarchid, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have a game hen that incubated a brood in a nest in the garage. By the time chicks were three weeks old entire lot was excluded from garage and confined to an elevated coop for a week. For last three days I have allowed hen and brood to come out near end of day for some foraging. The expectation is they would return to coop to roost at thus point but this hen showing some flexibility. If I open the garage door, even after everyone has gone to roost, the hen calls brood out of coop and rushes into garage and quickly starts to get chicks roosting up. In addition to moving brood, she also is getting the 4.5 week old chicks roosting at about 6' above ground. This is all early and I think a function of the imposed change in nesting site. I seldom force such a change and have done most frequently with American Dominique hens that do not relocate in such a manner.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Interesting. I’ve never moved a broody and chicks at three weeks age so I don’t have comparable experience. For a late summer broody I often move her to a separate coop right after she brings the chicks off the nest because the coop is getting pretty crowded by the end of summer and before the freezer gets full.

    Usually if I keep them penned for just a couple of days before letting them loose in the morning the hen returns there with her brood. I have had a few move back to the main coop around 4 to 5 weeks old and teach them to roost, but the normal procedure is for the hen to just abandon them when she weans them and go to roost by herself. The chicks remain in that other coop until I physically move them into the main coop. Normally if I put them in the main coop once they make the switch.

    I’ve had broodies leave the chicks alone at night but come back to care for them during the day for another week or so. I’ve had hens abandon the chick during the day but roost with them at night and protect them. I had a hen totally wean her chicks at three weeks of age. I had a hen take her two week old chicks to the roost five feet off the floor of the coop, using the top of the nests as an intermediate point to get there.

    Certain brood behaviors may be “normal” but I’ve had broodies all over the board with their mothering. I try not to read too much general information into what one specific broody does once with a specific brood.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Mine are relatively consistent when it comes to weaning. Clucking usually stops at around 5 weeks with hen no longer willing to take on a predator but still willing to take on other chickens on behalf of her young for a couple additional weeks. Hens during the two weeks or so post-weaning spend bulk of day and all of night with offspring except when laying an egg although sometimes offspring will follow her to nest and loaf around during the 20 minutes or so it takes to get her business done. Exception to this pattern involves late season broods where hen will not re-nest. Four hens with broods in pasture older than currently watched near are clucking to chicks pushing 12 weeks and have pushed migrating Coopers Hawks away from feeding stations when those come in after song birds. Hens without chicks do not go after the Coopers Hawks.
     

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