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#98196 - 08/07/11 03:47 PM Broodiness dangerous??
Sunni Ten Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 341
Loc: Colorado
That's the question we're discussing on another chicken board I go to (mostly novices).
With the flocks I've had over the years I would ocassionally get a broody hen. I've had a few raise store-bought chicks but usually, they were on their own. I let them go through their broody period on their own which as we know can last many weeks or even several months.
Since I visit my coop each day, sometimes several times a day, I would sometimes bring water and some food to my broody hen but other than that (and that wasn't even every day), she was on her own. Eventually she would get over being broody and that was that.
I've been on this board for many years and the general concensus was (back when I participated in the discussions) that broodiness is natural and just let nature do its thing.
But this other board I'm on feels differently. They're going on and on about how dangerous it is for a broody hen to stay broody very long and that we should definitely discourage it (with the various methods we're all heard about.) They feel a broody hen will eventually dehydrate or starve to death. That even though she leaves her nest every day a bit, she's just not eating/drinking enough. That the heat in the summer could kill her if she's in a hot coop all day long.
Opinions????????

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#98200 - 08/07/11 07:03 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Sunni Ten]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
If she's left broody for too long (i.e. for far more than 21 days), or, worse, manipulated into being broody for too long, then yes, she can suffer. I've read of people letting sikies set until the chicks hatch and then taking the chicks away and substituting new eggs, to take advantage of their natural broodiness, and eventually finding their hens dead on the nest.

Imagine being pregnant for three years. . . . Being broody is hard on a hen, there's no doubt (and worse if she has any parasites). I either set my broodies or break them up, by putting them somewhere they can't set - it takes only a couple of days.

Common sense should prevail here. Hens are designed to set for 21 days. Letting them set for that long, +/- a few, isn't going to hurt them. Much longer may.

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#98203 - 08/07/11 10:06 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: IPF]
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Dangerous in itself? No! vulnerable to outside dangers? Yes. sitting for a long time in one spot could be an invitation to predators in countries that have them; can lead to infestation of mites or lice. Most broody hens will get off the nest to look for food if they need it, so starvation is not likely unless locked in and forgotten. Don't forget the metabolic rate slows and they take maximum benefit from food they eat, leading to those great big smelly poops.
But management of broody hens is just a normal part of poultry management, and it is up to the individual whether to let a hen sit or break up the broody spell. She will come back to lay quicker, but of course may go right back to broodiness soon after. I usually break up the broodiness of my early hens, and usually the pullets, so I can keep them laying, but there comes a time when I will let my favourite broody sit and will usually buy day-olds to put under her. My best hen for brooding is now 8 years old and is still looking after her last chick (Which is now laying) She hasn't started laying as yet, but if she does, i will get some female barnevelders to put under her.

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#98212 - 08/08/11 08:42 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Foehn]
Sunni Ten Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 341
Loc: Colorado
At my coop, it's locked from predators at night. I check for mites and lice regularly. So unless broodiness goes on for more than a month or so, I personally don't worry. But I know people (on-line) that try to break up broodiness right away.

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#98215 - 08/08/11 02:42 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Sunni Ten]
Bushman Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/25/07
Posts: 1046
Loc: Wisconsin
I have let hens set for up to 50 to 55 days with no permanent ill effects. The keys are to make sure they are healthy to begin with, free of vermin, and setting in reasonably moderate weather. Just because a group of people claim something on the internet, that alone does not make it true.
_________________________
Pilgrim in a foreign land and true believer.
1st John 5:11-12

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#98233 - 08/09/11 08:54 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Bushman]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
No-ones suggesting it does, Bushman. We're just exchanging experiences and ideas. Be nice, please.

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#98234 - 08/09/11 10:49 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: IPF]
Bushman Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/25/07
Posts: 1046
Loc: Wisconsin
I kinda think warning newer folks not to be too gullible or naive is a way of being kind. Telling half truths or untruths because it may be what someone wants to hear is not really nice. Sorry if I offended anyone, I just don't like to spend a lot of time beating around the bush, so to speak.
_________________________
Pilgrim in a foreign land and true believer.
1st John 5:11-12

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#98235 - 08/09/11 02:51 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Bushman]
Maria Ricardo Offline
Past Moderator
Coop Keeper

Registered: 03/26/05
Posts: 434
Loc: Hawaii
Broodiness is only dangerous if the hen gets infested with mites or lice. Then they can sit to death.

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#98262 - 08/10/11 09:12 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Maria Ricardo]
Sunni Ten Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 341
Loc: Colorado
Bushman's post wasn't mean. He was responding to my scenario of a group of people (on another board) all stating something as truth, when that may not be the case.

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#98264 - 08/11/11 06:07 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Sunni Ten]
Richard in MA Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/23/07
Posts: 332
Loc: Massachusetts
I agree with Bushman. This is not meant as an insult but novices typically have less experience and may not correctly interpret what they are seeing. Passing that on, even when done with good intent, can be problematic. I have some hens this year that have been broody for the past two months and they are fine. I do not have the time to try to break them and I check their weight (by feel) when I am pulling the eggs they are invariably sitting on every day. Even broody hens take time to come off to feed and defecate. The danger they can face, like others have said, is primarily from parasite infection. Sitting still for so long makes them easy targets. Keep those under control and they will be fine.

On a side note, I was able to bring off a couple cochin hens from being broody by giveing them a clutch of East Indie duck eggs that were starting to hatch. The duck was not a great mother and I wanted to integrate a few ducklings into the mixed flock so put them under the cochins instead. They did a great job, however the ducklings are far more independent than chicks are so have already abandoned their "mothers" at just under a month old!

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#98271 - 08/11/11 05:38 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Richard in MA]
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8483
Loc: Montana
No, broodiness is not dangerous, but the natural means of poultry reproduction.

In MANY years of setting hens, with or without eggs, I have had ONE death. Loss was of a hen that had never been given eggs to hatch when broody and had previously been stopped by the bare cage method--NO place to "nest", food and water, but NO straw or bedding. When finally chosen to hatch, broody again, the hen was caged with her nest box, given eggs, food and water. Did she eat and drink?--yes, but near the end of her set, she was dead in the nest. Examination was that her vent was totally plugged. I could not remove the solid poop.

My fault for not noticing?? Not sure if I could have cleared her earlier. Broody poop is large and awful smell. There were other setting hens in other cages (inside in winter) and all had seemed normal.... It was many years ago--never occured before or since with MANY setting bantam hens. It was unusual and a rare occurence.

Is broodiness dangerous. NO. I agree that parasites can not just weaken, but can kill a setting hen,if she is not examined and treated for mites/lice, during broodiness and has an overwhelming load!

Not to worry.......but care for your hens... CJR

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#98274 - 08/12/11 03:28 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Richard in MA]
Caladenia Offline
Chicken

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 146
Loc: Australia
i have let a hen or two on occasion sit for more than their three weeks, to no real ill effect on the hen, but this was under strict supervision and ensuring they were adequately feeding and watering.

i have also had two hens die while sitting, one was a pekin and one was a silkie. in both cases the birds were NOT getting off the nest to feed and drink, so i have developed a habit of making sure that thte birds were getting on and off the nest.

i presonally wouldn't have a hen sitting for longer than 6 weeks, she loses too much muscle condition while she is sitting, no matter how much you build them up afterwards. i dont' think the loss of muscle condition and regainign of it is particularly healthy for the birds.

parasites can indeed be a problem, but i see the bigger problem as the loss of muscle and hence protein from their bodies, it take ALOT out of them.

if you control the parasites, feed and water well and ensure the broody is leaving hte nest the broody process is not dangerous. however sitting in summer etc is another situation (depending omn what your summers are like, mine are mid forties celsius and very hot and dry). it is true that the birds will not eat/drink enough, so their concerns on the other board are valid.

it is certainly NOT ok to let a bird sit indefinitely if you have no intention of hatching any eggs.

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#98277 - 08/12/11 08:58 AM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Caladenia]
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
Yes, of course brooding is the natural way of bird reproduction. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's not dangerous. Pregnancy is natural too, but it is definitely a dangerous period in a woman's life. Not excessively so, perhaps, but definitely higher risk than not being pregnant.

What is dangerous, I believe, is the practice of letting a bird set for three weeks, immediately removing the chicks and giving her fresh eggs, and repeating this process several times.

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#98287 - 08/13/11 01:05 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: IPF]
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Broodiness can be dangerous, if your bird is setting on hand grenades.

For me, I find that it's annoying more than anything. Some ridiculous, growly hen plugging up a nest box and threatening all the other hens that come to lay. I do not employ elaborate methods to break her up. But when I do chores she is abruptly removed from the nest box and punted outside with everyone else.

The danger to the hen is from an owner who is willing to exploit the fact that she is broody, and to use her as an unrelenting incubator. Natural broodiness might not be dangerous to a hen, over-use by owners who aren't concerned with the hen IS a threat. But then, we profit from not giving a hoot about the conditions most poultry live in. (Eek, she tosses in a hot button issue!)

In my early days I had a Silkie that was perma-broody so I gave her some golf balls. THey never did hatch, not for lack of trying. I think she suffered psychological damage. She was never as good at cross word puzzles after that.

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#98319 - 08/14/11 09:08 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Uno]
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand

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#103310 - 04/10/12 06:27 PM Re: Broodiness dangerous?? [Re: Richard in MA]
NolanFarms Offline
New Egg

Registered: 04/10/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Idaho, USA 83801
We eat our eggs, and also have a few hens that will go broody. If they are not being left to set on the eggs, we just put them in a wire pen that is mounted up on the side of the chicken coupe. It has food and water and with all the cooler air under her keaster she soon forgets about setting. In three days I turn them out with the rest of the flock and they are happier for it. No more broody hen and more eggs for us. I think the dangers of letting a hen set on eggs longer then they were designed to do is that they CAN starve to dealth with out the proper food and water intake. Now notice I said "can" not that they "will". As if you are starting with a really healthy hen in the first place they usually will be fine...but to think that it doesn't take something from the hen to be broody longer then they were made too...well...that wouldn't be wise either. Parasites can take over a broody hen, and preditors can too. Its best to let the broody hen set on one clutch of eggs if you want chicks, other wise...let someone else do it! =)
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