young hen going broody at the beginning of winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by balakai, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. balakai

    balakai New Egg

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    Mar 9, 2016
    This is our first year with chickens. We have eight 8.5 month old hens of different breeds. Our buff orpington has been acting broody for three days; on days 1 and 2 she laid, but no egg today. I tried taking the bedding out of her chosen nest box (we have 3), but she still wanted in there. I tried blocking it off this afternoon, but she just went into one of the other boxes. This evening I removed her and put her up on the perch after dark; I'll check later to see if she's still up there or if she went back down to a nest box (that's what she did yesterday).

    So, my partner doesn't want to stress her out by using a broody breaker and thinks we should let nature take its course, but I'm concerned that she'll lose weight and that could be an issue going into winter. Thoughts/opinions of more experienced chicken keepers?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Breaking her takes about 2-3 days when caught early. Otherwise she will stay broody for a few months usually before they become so worn out, and lose enough weight that they become unbroody. It is kinder to use the cage.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Letting nature take it's course would be giving her eggs to hatch. Sounds like that's not what your partner is thinking, though.

    Some folks do just let a hen set and brood air until she finally gives up. I don't think the hen is going to die or anything doing that, but IMO it's pointless and far more stress on the bird's body (and mind) than breaking her. Most hens will brood a good 4 weeks before giving up. By that time she will have lost quite a bit of weight. Brooding hens are also quite susceptible to mites and other external parasites. Plus, you're out egg production for that time she's brooding, and then usually a few weeks after (a good 2 months total). All that sounds way more stressful and wasteful to me than a few days in a broody breaker. And no chicks to show for it.

    Folks think a broody breaker is stressful, but it really shouldn't be. First off, the hen is broody to start with. This means she's already going to isolate herself from the rest of the flock, so it's not like she thinks you're being mean by keeping her away from the flock.

    3-5 days is as long as it takes most birds to flip the hormones back from being broody. Most birds aren't that distressed by being in the cage. Once they start getting distressed (after the initial move, that is), they're broken and ready to come out. It's kind of a self limiting thing....you don't need to keep her there for days on end after she's protesting.
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Donrae explained it all very well!

    You'll need to decide if you want her to hatch out some chicks, and how you will 'manage' it.
    Do you have, or can you get, some fertile eggs?
    Do you have the space needed? She may need to be separated by wire from the rest of the flock.
    Do you have a plan on what to do with the inevitable males? Rehome, butcher, keep in separate 'bachelor pad'?
    If you decide to let her hatch out some fertile eggs, this is a great thread for reference and to ask questions.
    It a long one but just start reading the first few pages, then browse thru some more at random.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/496101/broody-hen-thread

    If you don't want her to hatch out chicks, best to break her broodiness promptly.
    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day(you don't have to) and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.
    Water nipple bottle added after pic was taken.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  5. balakai

    balakai New Egg

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    We have a 5' by 10' coop/run combo (like https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bluegrass-coop ). The "house" part is 4' by 5', but our hens are free range, so most of the day they are nowhere near the coop. I could put a 24" long dog crate in a corner of the run area--it's completely enclosed with hardware cloth and I recently put plastic up over one short side and about 3' of one long side to block the worst of the winter wind/weather--but it looks like the broody breaker should actually be inside the coop, not just inside the run. It would be a tight fit to get that in there, and I might have to block a nest box to do it. And the other girls will have to manouever around it to get up to the perches at night--is that a bad thing?
     
  6. balakai

    balakai New Egg

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    22"L x 13"W x 16"H--I think I may have this size; is it too narrow?
    24"L x 18"W x 19"H--99% positive I have this size​
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Mine is about 24"L x 18"W x 21"H.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    aart's is in the coop cause she has a nice, huge walk in coop [​IMG] but....

    Doesn't have to be in the coop at all. Lots of coops won't fit another cage or crate like that. Most folks I know just set up a sheltered area next to a building, or even in the garage, a shed, barn, etc. A corner of the run will work just fine. Elevated is best and will probably speed things along.
     

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