What do I give my broody hens to eat?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by paparootzi, May 22, 2010.

  1. paparootzi

    paparootzi In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2009
    Kingston, TN
    I have some broody hens that don't eat that much. I have the layer pellets down for the others to eat but should feed her something else since that food encourages laying? Can I give her treats, bread, cheese, ?? Should I give her a dose of Nutri-Drench for energy? What is that stuff mainly for? Thanks for any help

  2. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Mine didn't eat much, either. They gobbled birdseed and mealworms that I offered, took a quick drink of water, then were back on the nest.
  3. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Songster

    You can give that sweet broody most anything off your own plate ~ minus the salt & sugar My hen, I'd feed right out of my hand, just to make sure she would eat! Yes, I am this crazy 4 real! Give your hen some uncooked oatmeal. yogurt is a nice treat, or a low-sodium cottage cheese. Scrambled eggs, the girls love eggs! Canned Sardines,fresh, cooked fish. There is a list, for treats to give our lovely chickens. Check out the FAQ's & frequently asked questions ^ up there, at the top of the forum listings.[​IMG] good luck, my chicken-hearted friend![​IMG]
  4. txchickie

    txchickie Songster

    Nov 15, 2008
    I keep a mixture of scratch and gamebird feed or flockraiser right near their nest. I do make it a point to bring them scraps or cook them an egg with some tuna and cheese.
    Some of mine drop a lot of weight while sitting and it worries me.
  5. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    I give my broody, Chick starter and boiled eggs with greens. [​IMG] I also have ACV in her water. [​IMG]

  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I don't try to coax my broodies to eat any more than usual, or any more than they want free-choice. They're really not expending much energy so they don't need as much food. I think if they are coaxed to eat more they will need to poop more, and need to take more time off the nest to do so. They seem to know just how to time things, how low to set, how long to take their breaks, how to coordinate this with the ambient temperture. I don't like to interfere with that too much.

    I think it's okay for them to eat layer feed, don't think it will make them lay eggs if their broody clock is turned on. Sometimes I'll switch them to chick feed half-way through their set, since that's what they'll be eating once the chicks are hatched.

    I just check on them at least once daily, make sure their food & water is being touched, make sure a new big broody poop appears every day or so. They may look pale & quiet, but as long as they still have that Touch Me And I'll Kill You look in their eye I figure they're all right.

    One thing to look for is lice or mites. Dust in or around their nest box with insecticidal powder when they begin, check them maybe once a week to be certain. Those parasites love to prey on setting hens, and they can really weaken your hen, and make her awfully itchy too!

    The ACV in the water is a good touch though. I have one hen who always has loose stool when she sets and this helps keep her going more solidly. I don't think it would hurt to hand-feed your setting hen treats if you want, but I don't think it's entirely necessary.
  7. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I think most broodies will do what's best, but some rookies don't. A recent Brahma hen of mine, broody for the first time, touched nothing for 5 days. She became almost stuporose. Only when I lifted her and took her away from the eggs did she drink and excrete. I then repeated this daily and after a further two or three days she took a tiny bit to eat. She ate virtually nothing all through her brooding and sat for a further two or three days after her eggs hatched.
    She really only began to move around when her chicks were running everywhere. Thankfully (chicks 11 days old), she is now behaving normally and is eating, drinking, scratching, preening etc.
    I think that most hens will instinctively know what to do and eat and should be provided with a good mixed diet,
  8. paparootzi

    paparootzi In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2009
    Kingston, TN
    Awww, thanks to everyone for these nice words of advice and tips! This is such a friendly website![​IMG]
    mercuriously likes this.
  9. Yllom

    Yllom Hatching

    Nov 22, 2013
    I am replying to one of your blog messages regarding 'One thing to look for is lice or mites' (2010) thank you. However, if you plant the herb 'Lemon Balm' (Melissa Officinalis) in your hen run it will keep away the lice and mites. It is a lemon scented herb which grows into a small bush and has gentle soft lime green leaves, and: (a) looks lovely in a vase of water, indoors; (b) tastes soothing in a cup of hot water when picked from the lemon balm plants outside the hen house i.e. from the garden; (c) in the hen run, the hens brush past the plants in the chicken run and the lemon permeates their legs and feathers (my hens dust bath around the plants); and (d) when you are ready to cut the plant back when it gets a bit tired looking after many months, keep the cut branches and tie the branches into bundles and hang them around the inside of the hen house (they will dry off) keeping the drying branches all through the autumn and the winter until you can replace the dried lemon balm with next year's crop of fresh lemon balm. (The dried lemon balm becomes crisp and falls to the floor of the hen house) (When cutting it back in the autumn, leave about 12 inches of bare stalks on the plant and it will regrow next Spring into the same lovely plant.) The plant is very easy to grow from seed or by pulling a piece of established plant, with a small portion of plant root attached, and replant it out. You won't have any problem with lice or mites on the hens/roosters body or in their feathers; and in the hen run, which can sometimes look very bare because the hens pick at everything growing in it, it is the one plant they will not touch and it is so pretty around the inside boarder of the hen run, or planted here and there as a winding path inside the hen run. I hope this is useful. Molly
    1 person likes this.

  10. caw555

    caw555 In the Brooder

    Jan 21, 2016
    New Zealand

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