this darn broody hen

kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)August 16, 2005

Can anyone help me out here?

I have an Auracana/Americauna hen who is, I think, more than 2 years old-- I'm pretty sure she was born in early March 2003. She's with a batch of hens who have been together that long and not a single brooder among them... So about a month ago, she seemed to be getting really broody. I let her sit for a while, just to see how far she'd take it, then the pile of eggs under her was getting too huge -- she was apparently getting off her stack to let the other hens lay new eggs. (ALL of my 10 hens lay in the same box, nevermind the other six or seven nesting boxes available to them-- they only like this one box).

OK, so at this point, it was maybe 8 or 9 days into the broody thing, so I decided if she was going to hatch chicks (which for the record I do NOT need), then I should move her, so she can sit and hatch and tend the babies in peace. So I moved her to her own pen, with a nice clean box, dark and covered...

She refused to sit on them. I left her in 2 days-- she would have nothing to do with the eggs and knocked most of them out of the nest.

Fine. I put her back in the coop with the other chickens, and tossed the eggs (what a waste!). I kept the eggs gathered for a few days, then I went out of town for 3 days... DH didn't gather eggs... came back, she's sitting on a clutch of 20 eggs again and tries to peck holes in my arm when I go for the eggs under her. Finally I got them all cleared out again yesterday, once again tossing them.

This morning, she's back on the nest with a half-dozen eggs under her again.

I'm pretty sure it's been at least 3 weeks since this started. Maybe four weeks.

She just won't stop!! But she refuses to be moved, and I can't let her sit on more and more eggs-- 21 days would mean, geez, many dozens of eggs.

Someone tell me what to do here-- I'm at a loss.


Here is a link that might be useful: Our Farm Website

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Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Broodiness is largely hormonal which accounts for her persistance. Keeping her segregated in a cool wire cage (dog ctrate works)hung up so the air can can get at her underside often helps. If possible, hang the cage in a darkened spot. She needs food and water and something to perch on.

Another way - Velvet Sparrow suggested this - is simply to to remove all the eggs regularly and slip ice cubes under her instead. That would certainly cool her down! The important thing is to keep taking the eggs while they are good to eat. Eventually she will give up.

The REALLY quick solution, of course, is chicken soup.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 12:59PM
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Mark the eggs with a pencil on both ends when she is sitting a proper clutch size. As you gather eggs each morning remove any eggs without markers. That way you know they are fresh and leave the five or six eggs you marked.

When my hens are broody or laying at peak, I gather twice a day. If you keep removing the extra eggs from the broody hens clutch and never, ever let her go into the night with eggs in other boxes, she should be able to successfully sit her clutch and be happy and you don't waste eggs. When she hatches her babies, then segregate her with her chicks. I let one hen who INSISTED on being broody incubate three clutches of eggs one after the other. Believe me, she was UNBROODY after that experience. LOL. I got enough chicks for next year and I don't expect she'll get broody until next spring again.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:13PM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

Thanks, guys... I think I'll try the marking-the-egg technique, especially since DH went back to work and I'll be the constant chicken-tender again (so I know it will get done every day without fail). Does anyone know how likely it is that she'll stay broody through another full 21-day cycle? Do chickens who are broody like this stay broody until they hatch some chicks? How many eggs should I let her sit on? As previously mentioned, I really don't need any more chickens, but it's so much FUN.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 3:11PM
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Kristen, a lot of it is breed dependent. I've had the best luck with a bantam/barred rock cross, but I usually have two or three out of a large flock of comets or rocks who would make successful brooders. A lot of new breeds have had the broody instinct almost bred out of them, but now and again a few are determined enough to make a go of it. Many go broody and then loose interest halfway through it.

The important thing is to make sure there aren't a lot of other nest boxes laying around with eggs in it, because my hens don't seem to care where they sit an egg and move off their half gestated eggs and start sitting another clutch and then the eggs go cold too long and are spoilt. That is why I recommend you be pretty consistant to make sure only that marked clutch stays in your boxes for any length of time. Other hens may also try to claim it who don't have sufficient brooding instinct to see the job done.......and they also end up cracking your fertile gestating eggs by climbing in and out of the clutch to lay more.

Five or six is a good number to work with. Much more than that and they have trouble covering them to keep them warm. Now is better time to let them rip, because I seldom have much luck with the weather consistantly hot. The clutch becomes like an oven. Once the broody hen starts tending them, if you help her out by keeping stray eggs out........she should become pretty determined. I even had to take water to my sitting hen this spring. She didn't even want to leave her eggs to drink and I could tell by her comb she was dehydrating. It was a neat experience.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:54PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)


    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 11:56PM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

Thanks guys-- she is indeed VERY determined. I guess we're on about day 7 or so... It will be SO much fun to get some chicks (although I really don't need/want any more chickens right now....)


    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 8:48AM
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I have a Marans that just stopped being broody. It took more than 2 months. I didn't let her hatch any eggs. Put her in a separate pen, for a while with a molting hen (wasn't laying), so there were no eggs. She was still in the nest box whether there were eggs or not. She's in with the others now, and now molting.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 12:37PM
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And whenever I went into the pen, I would shoo her out of the nest box and say "Out". She'd go back in when I left. Eventually, she learned the word "Out" and left the nest on command, without my push. And also I watched her return to the nest when I left.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 12:48PM
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Hi - I know this is an old thread, so I know I might not get comments, but just in case I can...

I had a golden-laced sebright go broody on me. Well, I started her off with golf balls because it was FEBRUARY in Missouri. Six weeks later she was still trying to hatch golf balls as hard as she could, so I let her have eggs and ran into the big hen breaking them thing, which was very sad.

Today, finally, FIVE MONTHS later (and broody the whole darn time!) she has hatched her first chick! I'm hoping the insistent broodiness also means "good mother." Earlier I heard chicken sounds (in hundred degree heat I moved her, the baby and the rest of the eggs immediately. When I tried to move her with unhatched eggs earlier she refused to set them and I put the whole group back in their nest in the chicken house, hoping she would be loyal with a chick out of them) and I went downstairs, worried something was up - she was instructing the chick on eating out of the feeder! It was so cute!

She is actually calmer than the Japanese fancy that did my last brood. I'm hoping she'll be a good mom. :-)

Still amazed that she didn't give up in almost a half a year.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:03AM
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