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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dealing with a Broody Hen

Stephanie asks what do I do about a broody hen.

First I rejoice! Do a little happy dance, and count my blessings. Hens going broody with a commercial stock is rare. That wonderful trait has been bred out of most large breed birds. However, your little bannies haven't been messed with. And they will more than likely be the ones to go all broody on you.

One problem with the broody hen, is their lack of self preservation. They will sit the entire month on those eggs without eating or drinking. And here is the issue. You really don't want that, it isn't good for your mother hen. However moving them to eat can cause havoc, and they might decide not to go back to the eggs. What to do?

We have areas for the broody hen to go, inside the chicken yard. While the other hens all seem to enjoy sharing the same nest inside the coop, your broody hen wants to be left alone. You can tell this by the way she hisses and spits at you when you approach. Or the way she tries to take your finger off if you reach in. What we have done is place the top half of a plastic dog house, littered with straw, outside of the coop, but still in the yard. This way she can have her privacy. Most of the broody hens will use it, however some will not.

Above is a silkie using the dog house top.

Hide and seek

This English game hen was thought to be dead, until my husband reached into the box that was on a high shelf in the barn and she attempt to eat him. This mother hen found sanctuary behind an old cooler in the sheep's shed.

Unless you plan to keep them locked up, you never know where they will decide to brood. Bring them water and a little feed everyday, and hope they will eat it. The last mother hen in these photos, was the only one that would eat or drink before the chicks were hatched.


Stephanie said...

Thanks. Your last two are like the ones we've hade that have hatched out chicks. They've been on a shelf in the shed, under a shelf in the shed all outside where the chickens are supposed to be.

The Buffs can't get outside of the fence I'll have to try giving them a more private spot.

SkippyMom said...

I love the new look! Although I have to admit I am going to miss the old header, it always brought a grin to my face.

The Thinker said...

Fascinating. It makes me wonder what they do in the wild. Like would the other birds take care of them? Would they die sitting on the eggs? Or do they have enough energy stores to do without for extended brooding times.

Very cool article!

EJ said...

Great new look!
Don't forget to make sure the eggs are fertile and developing. We threw 2 clutches (in total over 50 muskovy duck eggs) away this summer. Either the drake wasn't doing his job or he was shooting blanks. Last year he did fine so I never even though to look.

EJ said...

PS I too liked the shearing header. It was unique.

sugarcreekstuff said...

I have 3 broody hens right now. They were all on wooden eggs just to keep them happy, one snuck a real one under and it hatched today!

The Fool said...

Durn, Phelan. I thought you were going to tell us how to deal with a broody hen of the human persuasion. I've never dealt with the barnyard variety.


MarmiteToasty said...

Mabel my little silkie is sitting on two eggs, just in the little coop me chickens sleep in at night, the other 2 sleep in there with her and they all seem fine, I have put food and water near at hand for her, and I do see her once a day come up this end of the garden and gobble down whatevers in the dishes then have a quick gulp of drink and dash back.... :)


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