Basic broody hen management 101

Posted by: Anonymous

Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/15/03 07:32 PM

I am sure all these questions have been asked before, but I'm having trouble finding all the answers by searching the archives and web. Wading through pages and pages of info for the answer to a specific question is very tedious and time consuming if you know what I mean. smile

I've always had production type layers so I've never really had a broody hen. Last year I got some White Rocks and lo and behold one has gone broody on me. If one of my production hens even thought about going broody, I could always break them by kicking them out of the nest box and putting them on the roost after dark. Usually one or two nights of this and they quit. Not this White Rock hen. She just keeps sitting and sitting. I was going to do the wire bottom cage routine, but then I thought, "hey, it might be fun to try and let her set", plus I could use some replacement layers. I really don't lose much by letting her try anyway. If she gives up part way through, oh well. So here are my questions:

1. I'm thinking I should let her set awhile and then move her later? I've read that some hens will abandon their nest if you try to move them. She's not in a great spot though. I have a ten-hole nest box on the wall and she is hanging out in one of those. If I move her and she gets upset, might she damage the eggs?

2. How many eggs? I was thinking 12?

3. If I leave her where she is right now, I will need to check the nest daily for any new eggs laid by other hens. Can I pull the broody hen off the nest to check the eggs or should I just try to reach under her? I would think I might miss or damage eggs unless I pull her off the nest to check???

That's all right now. It's been a long day at work and I have an early day tomorrow.

Thanks for answering my basic broody hen questions!
Posted by: Shahbazin

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/15/03 08:53 PM

Try moving her at night to a nice snug nest in a pen by herself - as dark & sheltered a nest as you can make, with the hay/straw in it really rounded into a bowl shape, & some fake (or real that you don't want) eggs under her. If she sticks, then after a day or two give her the real eggs - 10-12 is usually a good number. If you leave her with the others, there's too big a chance eggs will be broken, she might get in the wrong nest & let the "good" eggs chill, or when the chicks hatch, the other hens may eat them.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/16/03 09:55 AM

I'm no expert on broody hens but after 23 of them just this year I learned a few things.Some went broody at the end of feb.what we did was make removeable screen doors under the nest box in the coop ,put the broody in with a egg shape rock untilled she settled down.In all cases this took less then a day.Selected the eggs from the hens we wanted to hatch ,marked them then switched them with the rock.In the morning we had to carry them to the feeder to feed and poop ,when they were done {5-10mins.}they'd jump in a nest box.We then took them out and moved them under to the eggs and replace the door,repeted this at night.3 days is all it takes untill she learns where her nest is ,after that we don't even bother with the screen doors any more,we just leave them open,eggs are marked so we know if there's new ones.They hatch and mingle with the flock no problems at all.I have several broodies side by side under the nest box,they just go on there owne now.Every ones situation if differnt ,but this has worked out great for me.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/19/03 02:48 PM

Well so far so good. I put a small dog kennel filled with straw on the floor under the nest boxes and put the hen in the kennel last night along with about 6 wooden eggs. In the morning I let her out and she was anxious to come out and feed. Then she went back in one of the regular nest boxes so I put her back in the dog kennel and locked her in. Just now I opened the door in case she wants more food and water before dark and she seems very content sitting on the fake eggs. Tomorrow if all goes well, I will put some real fertilized eggs under her. Thanks all for your advice!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/19/03 04:54 PM

I have a barred rock who has left twice, both times I thought she had met her maker, (they free-range). Both times she has returned with a brood of chicks. I don't know where she goes but I do not see her until her chicks are old enough to walk and she returns to feed them. So, I'm thinking that rocks are great broodies and will tend the nest tenacioulsly until hatching. I"m interested to know what you decide to do and how she handles it.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/19/03 10:00 PM

JTMoore,yea that happens to us also.Best place to look for'em is in low to the ground bushes,at our place thats bird planted mulberry trees, we have a game called broody-poop search me and the kids play,find that and you'll find the bird.Or we just call'em and listen for the cackle as they know we'll show up with a bowl of water.When you find them check the nest ,you'll find the oddest things in them.Is your b/r a good mother?Ours ,like our speckled sussex are bad counters.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/19/03 10:30 PM

Bluedog,I'm sure a white rock could handle 12 eggs .10 may be more managable you'll know when you give them to her if she can or not.We like to give one at a time to watch her roll'em under .this takes time but we enjoy watching it.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 06:48 AM

Well the gig is on. LOL! I let the hen out of the kennel this morning to eat and drink. While she was out, I replaced the fake eggs with the 12 eggs I want her to set. When she was done eating, she still went back into the regular nest box. So I picked her up and put her in the opening of the dog kennel. She walked right in and set down on those 12 eggs covering them perfectly. Like I said, I've never had a broody before so this will be interesting.
Posted by: Susie

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 06:52 AM


Good luck with the brooding. It is SO much fun to have a hen hatch chicks! Two things to watch for is to make sure she gets up once per day to eat, drink & poop. The other thing is to make sure she stays in the right nest. In your situation, I would be locking her in and then going once a day to let her out while watching. After about 15 minutes, lock her back up.

All should go well! Have fun and keep us posted!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 07:16 AM

My white rock broody hen just hatched her second clutch this summer on the 4th of July. She sat 18 eggs, but they were bantam eggs (-silkie and cochin). Of the 18 eggs, 15 hatched, 2 pipped and died, one did not hatch, (was dead in shell). So, she had 15 chicks to watch. On day #1, one chick drowned, (my fault). On day #13, she broke one's ankle bone, (now splinted with a q-tip, recovering nicely inside my house). So, she now has 13 chicks to keep up with. This was my first try with a standard hen raising little bantams, realizing the risks, I thought I would give it a try. She wants to go out so bad, but I won't let her. I know she will loose them in the grass. She is taking good care of them, all in all, but she weened her last clutch at 3 1/2 weeks, so I had to take over. I am prepared to do that again if necessary. She is a very good sitter.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 12:32 PM

Pattie, about 9-14 days is when ours find true day time independence .They still sleep under ,besides,and on mom untill 3-4 weeks and unless mom has a prime spot on the roost or immediatly goes broody again [insert rolling eyes here]they'll sleep near her a while longer.I don't know for how long ,I'll have to ask Brian when he gets back from camp.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 12:37 PM

Well, her last clutch, she really weaned them. She pecked them and would not let them get near her anymore. They were very scared of her and still are. So, I am watching closely with this bunch. I have a covered run for them with light bulb if necessary. So far tho, she is very protective.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 12:53 PM

Maybe ours do that also,its never been witnessed however.I'v never seen a chick fear its mom either no matter what the age.It proves the point that everyones situation is differnt.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 05:24 PM


Thanks for the advice. I have been locking her in the kennel so she stays there. I'm glad to hear that coming out once a day is enough. Yesterday, I tried to let her out in the evening too and she showed no interest. In the morning when I open the door to the kennel, she comes right out and starts eating. It isn't 10-15 minutes though until she is back on the nest. I guess I'll just let her out once a day. It seems she is content with that.

Once it gets close to the time to hatch, can I move her to another pen or would that upset her too much? I was thinking of picking up and moving the dog kennel that she is in during the night. The eggs should hatch three weeks from today on a Sunday and I will be out of town the Thursday before until Sunday night. My husband will be taking care of the chickens while I am gone and I would like it if he didn't have to worry about watching mama and chicks while they are in the same coop with the other hens and roosters. If I move the kennel on the Tuesday before I go out of town, that will be day 16. What do you think?
Posted by: Susie

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/20/03 06:23 PM

If you move the kennel, I would guess that it would work. I have moved hens completely, with no familiar nest going with them and had no problems. Others have had the hen abandon the nest. So there is no definite answer but moving the whole kennel is much more likely to work than not. And I've moved them from day 1 all the way to just a couple of days before hatch, without incident. I think I've been lucky so far as I know some won't tolerate it but I think you'll have better luck moving her the longer she has been sitting.

And yes, once a day is plenty for her to get up. I've had hens hold the nest so tight that they weren't getting up at all so I had to physically remove them once a day and encourage them to eat. They do sort of physically "shut down" so their needs aren't the same as when they are active.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Basic broody hen management 101 - 07/25/03 04:02 PM

Well so far so good. My broody hen is starting to get in the routine. In the morning, I go to the coop and open the dog kennel and she comes out to eat and drink and preen herself. While she is out, I go and feed and water our broiler chicks that are out on pasture. When I come back, she is sitting back on her eggs and I lock her back in the kennel.

This morning I had to laugh. When I came back to lock her up, there she is sitting on the roost and softly clucking, sort of a frustrated and not very happy cluck. I looked in the kennel and there was one of my black sex-link hens sitting on the eggs. I pulled the black hen off the eggs and my white rock hen jumped off the roost and strutted around the dog kennel and then went inside and took up her spot on the incubating eggs. Then my black hen jumped up on the perch of the nest boxes and started doing the most indignent clucking you ever heard.

My husband said that my white rock hen just hired some "day care" for her eggs while she was off getting a bite to eat. LOL! I guess the day care worker must have wanted more hours. smile