Wednesday, May 19, 2010

gone broody

Blackberry, my australorp hen, has gone broody on me. This is common for a hen her age, and for her particular breed. I suspected something was up last week when I went out to spread scratch and she didn't come. Typically she is my most voracious eater and chirps happily at snack time. But she was nowhere to be found. And this has gone on for 4 or 5 days now. I began to worry and started forcing her out of the coop to eat and drink. Broody hens can sometimes starve or become dehydrated if they are not watched closely. I realized she had gone over the edge when I was holding her and realized all of her chest feathers were gone. GROSS! She looks like she could be wrapped up in cellophane and sold on the super market shelf!
So what to do with a broody hen? We don't have eggs to hatch and her hogging the coop is discouraging the other chickens to lay. Not to mention that she has stopped laying as well. The best way to discourage broodiness is to separate the hen from the rest of the flock into her own smallish pen. I've read that it's best to make the pen as uncomfortable as possible. John is going to rig up something tomorrow, so for the time being she has been banished- to glory land. Her punishment is free reign of the entire backyard.

Take that, Blackberry!

Signs you have a broody hen:
1. her comb has gone from red to pink
2. her chest feathers are gone (this is so the heat can be more easily transferred to the eggs)
3. she puffs up and pecks when you come near her while she's nesting (fortunately, Blackberry is extremely docile- not one peck!)
4. she doesn't leave the nest- even to eat- and when she does, she guards it fiercely

Those of you that are more chicken knowledgeable than I, please share your experiences and advice!


Michelle J said...

My silver-laced wyandotte, (Anabel) and one of my americaunas (Strawberry) both went a bit broody, and only briefly. I kept pulling their eggs and it seemed to snap them out of it, which is a good thing, since our eggs aren't fertile and they'd have sat there forever for nothing.

If she can't be deterred, maybe you could purchase some fertile eggs for her to hatch out in her separate little pen. ???

Good luck! :)

Mandy said... might take me a while to sort through my vast knowledge of all things chicken to come up with an answer for you. You know me and my chickens. I'm practically an expert.

Traci said...

Not being a chicken keeper but an interested bystander with no knowledge, I was thinking you were going to to say you would just eat her! My neighbor's (chicken keeper that we live vicariously through) hen did this and then soon died...I guess she got dehydrated. We would just pull the eggs from under her and the others did not mind her in there. It was funny because she would gather all the eggs from the box nests and pull them into did she do that with only three toed feet??

mandi said...

so far pulling the eggs hasn't worked. she stays in there anyway. that's why we have gotten serious with her. you know- sending her to the omni hotel (ie: the backyard).

Rosie_Kate said...

Broody hens can be pretty stubborn... I do have roosters around, so I usually let the hens sit on something (last year I even gave one some duck eggs-- not such a good idea, as it turned out), but that's not always possible. Sometimes it's a pain if they're sitting on a shared nest and the other chickens still keep laying there. I've never worried about them eating and drinking, though. They always seem to get off the nest once a day and hurry to eat and drink. Sometimes i close them in with their nest and their own food and water.

But anyway, to discourage her-- Yes, the best way is to lock her up in a small cage or pen by herself with nothing that could be construed as nesting material. A plain wire floor is best, because they'll even sit in grass or dirt if the pen is on the ground. She'll be mad about it, and it may take a week or more, but don't let her out until she's over her funk, or she'll go right back to it.

Amélie said...

I have found the broodiness lasts about 3 weeks. A good idea to move her to her own nest if she is hogging the communal one. If you don't have any eggs for her to hatch, I have found they're just as happy sitting on a golf ball -- or nothing.

In my experience, after about 3 weeks, they just snap out of it, get up, and go about their business as if it never happened.

Coby said...

any updates? I hear this particular chicken is annoyingly broody...makes me not want to purchase them.

Job 77 said...

Hi there. Thanks for posting this. It was just at the right time. One of our Australorps (we have six of them) was doing the exact same thing as what you described. We didn't know what was going on. After reading your post, we got some fertile eggs and put our broody hen in a crate by herself. We're on day 16, so maybe we'll get chicks soon.