11 September 2012

Going Broody

When I included this photo in my post last week it was to celebrate that all the chickens are laying.  But over the weekend we realised that Blacky/ Mavis was spending more and more time in the nesting box, and our suspicions that she is broody seemed confirmed when we turned to Jackie French's chook bible for information.  We shooed her off several times on the weekend and again yesterday afternoon, but she went straight back on, even without eggs, last night and stayed there all night, then back on this morning after being picked up and removed off it again.  

At one level it's been quieter for the other two, who are usually picked on a bit by her, but I assume the problem with broodiness is that she's likely to lose condition if she doesn't eat and drink.  The other problem was the other two became increasingly agitated when they wanted their turn in the nesting box, and she wasn't going to budge.  Luckily we had bought a case of wine the other day, and the box was the perfect size to convert into an extra nesting box, much to their relief! 

So what to do?  Should we just let her be until she gets bored and hungry?  How long is she likely to stay in this condition?  Jackie French's book talked about putting the chicken back onto the roost at night, and potentially putting it in a cage with some food and water for a couple of days until it snaps out of it.  I assume with bantams this might become a regular occurrence.  Any tips and advice would be gratefully received!

7 comments:

  1. If you have some fertile eggs, but them under her! The main reason people don't like broodiness is the lack of egg laying while she is sitting. If you want eggs rather than chicks, you need to move her off the nest and put her in a separate cage (even just a large bird cage) by herself, with just food and water and nowhere to nest. Unless she is very determined, she will get over it in a couple of days, but as she is a bantam, I'm not sure how long it will take! Maybe you should ask around for some fertile eggs instead... You did the right thing setting up another box for the other hens. You can just let her be if you want, and she should get up and eat and drink once a day, but you won't get eggs while she's like that. Cheers, Liz

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    1. Thanks so much for your advice Liz. I did momentarily consider your idea of putting fertile eggs under her, but we just don't have enough space for any more chickens! I'm glad to hear that it's just the inconvenience that people dislike, rather than any long term ill affects. We put her back onto the roost tonight, so will see where she is in the morning, but I"m now inclined to just let her be for the time being and see what happens.

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  2. We have broody hens here through most of spring and early summer. We don't allow the hens to stay in the nest boxes overnight (to keep the boxes clean). We have shutters we can close at night to keep them out, but honestly, it doesn't seem to affect their level of broodiness much, at least not for the persistent ones. The persistently broody ones do lose weight, as they're not out foraging as much, but they all snap out of it eventually. Hatching fertile eggs, or swapping out dummy eggs for new chicks, will help break the broody cycle, but even for us that's a logistical issue. Like you, we only have so much room for the chickens, and I had 6 broody hens at one point this year! My only other advice, is take any laid eggs out as soon as possible.

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    1. I like the idea of shutters on the nesting boxes at night. I probably can't do that in my chook shed, but I could put something over the box so she can't get into it at night. I have been trying to remove the eggs as quickly as possible, but today she was sitting in the box without any eggs under her, while there were two eggs in the other box so it doesn't even seem to matter whether there are any there! I must say that I'm finding the life of chickens quite fascinating!!

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  3. Agree that the sooner you can get the laid eggs out the better.

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  5. I've been having the same trouble with one of my chickens so I am very grateful for everyone's advice here. Thanks!

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