Broody Hen Still

nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)April 25, 2008

One of my Partridge Rock hens is still broody in spite of my trying to break her of it. For four weeks I have taken her off her nest as much as I can which is usually twice a day and more on weekends. She will go out in the afternoon with the flock to free range but will ultimately be the first one in to roost for the night. I have tried covering her preferred box but she moves to the next. One of the other hens is beating her up terribly because she wants the nest! The back of her neck is missing alot of feather. I feel so sorry for her and I don't know what else to do.

I know she is eating some because when I take her out she eats and walks around and seems okay. She's just not giving in.

I tried closing the coop when everyone is out free ranging so she can go back in but she just sits and waits and waits.

It's sad to me. Any other suggestions.

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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, if hatching chicks isn't an option for you, the easiest way is to place her in a wire bottomed cage, like a rabbit cage, for a week or so. The wire provides a more open environment--no more dark nest to hide in--and the wire bottom allows air to circulate around her underside and cool it, helping her to snap out of the broody mode.

You can also give her a handfull of ice cubes to brood--a cold, wet hiney will make her uncomfortable and helps move her off her nest.

Be prepared for loads of griping and one REALLY upset hen, whatever you do. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 1:02PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

How long should this go on? I have thought about letting her sit but it would be difficult to have babies with my set up. I would really love it actually. Will she snap out of this eventually? This is what I really need to know. If not, then I will take more drastic measures - like ice cubes. I have a feeling she will just go to a different nest!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:00PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

she will eventually snap out of it but it could take a couple of months. I've had a Buff Orp and a Marans go broody, both took their time coming out of it but eventually they did and haven't gone broody since.

If I were you I would think about possibly letting her hatch some chicks, I'm sure other members here could tell you more about what kind of space they would need and for how long you need to keep them separate.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 5:12PM
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I now have 5 hens setting. Seems like they are chick machines this year. I sucessfuly discouraged one hen by putting her in a cage for 3 days..
However, it doesn't seem to me your hen is actually wanting to set, if she goes out to free range with the others she's not wanting to set. She just enjoys the privledge of sleeping in the nest at night. A true broody hen wanting to set eggs will NOT leave but only once or twice a week in the early spell and then not at all the last week or so.

And the loss of feathers on the back of her head is from your rooster, if you have one, mating. In the spring all my hens have that.
A true test of a hen wanting to set,is, she grumbles and struts with her tail pitched high, just seems to act like a witch with feathers all ruffled.
hope your hen decides soon.

three of my hens were hiding in the barn and missing for about 10 days. Didn't have the heart to break them up after the investment they made so I've brought them into a large dog kennel inside the hen house. Don't know when they'll hatch and what I'll do with them when they do. I thought I only had 2 to arrange for. Now I'm dividing a small stall into chicken runs. My vet said he'd take them all so I'm grateful to have a place for them to go.
Btw, all5 of the broody hens this year have been Black Jersey Giants. All are 10 months old and I got them from McMuarry, should anyone want hens for boodiness. These seem to be determined moms.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:05PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

This hen is definitely broody. She only goes out of her box because I make her as Velvet suggested on her site. I take her out and make her go out and she does for a while but goes back in. She is in the nest morning and night unless I move her. Believe me she growls and grumbles. As for the missing feathers - I thought it was from my rooster but he goes no where near her. In fact, I witnessed another hen pecking and pecking at her to get into the box. The same hen pecks at any hen that gets next to the rooster on the bars at night. She wants him all to herself!

Having listened to all the suggestions here I am curious:

Since she has been broody for a month now what would happen if I let her sit on a few eggs? Would she most likely sit for the next 21 days or so? Then, what do I do to ensure the safety of the chicks? How many eggs would I let her sit on?

I just want what's best for this hen. In spite of her grumbling and growling she is a good hen and would probably make an excellent mother.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 8:28AM
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I'm surprised to hear about the ice cubes. I thought I was the only mean chicken owner here. smile. I had a broody Buff Orpington this winter and I replaced the nesting material in her favorite box with a big block of wood shavings that had gotten damp and frozen solid. It cured her at the time, but she's back to thinking about it again.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 1:13PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Heh, yeah, I'm a mean ol' chicken mom, too. And I had ANOTHER hen go broody today, so now I've got six!

They're starting to double up with each other in some kind of weirdo post-apocalyptic hen frenzy. Then the laying hens lose all patience with the shrieks and growls of fury and just shove THEIR way into the nest, too.

Such drama! *L*

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 11:19PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Okay, I think it's mean to throw ice cubes in her box but she is starting to loose too much weight. I don't have a cage to put her in so I am desperately going to try the cubes. I am just worried about her.

Will she ever stop this on her own is the broodiness dictated by the hatching of chicks?

When is the best time to put the cubes in? Morning or night?

Sorry, new chicken momma here is worried about her broody!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 11:15AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

I'm so jealous! I keep telling my girls that they someone should set so we get a handful of chicks, but so far they just look at me like "open the door we want to go outside"! And I let them out, and hope tomorrow someone will stay back on a nest!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 6:02PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Toss a handful of cubes under her first thing in the morning, and another in the afternoon if she persists. After dark, you can go out, remove her from the nest and place her on a roost--make sure it's dark enough to where she can't find her way back to the nest.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 6:07PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Last night I pulled her off her nest and put her out with the others who get to free range for few hours until bedtime. She walked around the coop most of the time looking at the door to get back in!

This morning I pulled her off the eat with the others and put a tray of ice cubes in her nest. When I went back out to check on her she was sitting on the cubes seemingly undaunted!

When I get home tonight I will do the same. I tried to put her on a roosting bar last night after dark but she didn't seem to be able to stay on by herself so I put her back not knowing what to do. I suppose it would be okay to leave her on the floor? Sigh.......she is one determined hen.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 8:52AM
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I, unfortunately, had a broody hen die this spring. She just wouldn't give up her broodiness and by the time I decided to let her set some eggs, it was apparently too late. Now that I have a set up for a broody hen and a rooster doing his thing, none of my other hens will set! Such is life on the farm. But my goose is setting, so that's something to look forward to!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:26AM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

Last night when I got home miss Broody was off her nest!!! I think the ice cubes worked! I would not have tried it had I not been desperate. I feared she would meet the same fate as critterkeepers. She went out with the flock to free range and never came back to the coop! I went out after dark and they were in the coop and she was in the box so I moved her to the roosting bar where she apparently stayed for the night. Just for good measure I threw in a tray of ice cubes this morning.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Now I will have time to figure out how I can accommodate a broody to let her hatch. But if no one goes broody anytime soon that will be just fine with me!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 8:52AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Suzanne, I forgot to mention, when I have a broody girl I always throw some scratch right in front of them on their nest in the morning and they do eat it.

Glad to hear the ice cubes worked :)


    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 6:59AM
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I have a few buff orps and i cant get then to go broody. I always heard buffs were good sitters, but i cant make it happen. Any tips?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 4:22PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

What kind of nests are you providing, and how old are the hens? My Orp didn't start going broody until she was nearly 2 years old.

My girls prefer the dark, 'hidey-hole' type nests, it helps them feel like they are hiding their eggs. Mine are wooden boxes with open fronts, a nice, deep layer of straw for nesting material, plenty of room and deep front to back. In addition I hung a curtain of black mesh landscaping cloth as a curtain, slit up the middle so they can come and go. The landscape cloth allows air to circulate while helping the hens feel 'hidden' and so safe to sit on eggs. Leaving 4-5 eggs in the nest for a few days (mark these with a pencil to keep track of them!) may help, too.

Also, if you have any dogs, noisy kids, etc. nearby to where the hens don't feel secure enough to nest, shoo them away.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 3:19AM
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Thanks a million, Velvet! I'm going to try the ice cubes right now. I actually came looking for advice because my hen hatched a clutch at Easter and was left with a naked, very red and swollen bum. She's already gone broody again, and her butt has only gotten worse. It's all swollen below the vent - almost as big as a baseball - and feels rather warm to the touch. Doesn't seem to hurt her when I handle it, tho. It's soft and squishy to the touch. Any ideas what I can do for her, besides discouraging her from setting again so soon?

BTW, the other hen who hatched a brood at the same time lost her feathers off her chest, but is now all healed and feathered back up. I figured they must just "sit" differently. Both are Buff Cochins.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 5:26PM
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