May 3, 2015

My Stubborn Broody

This is where she wants to be.

Evening head count for the chickens is at chore time when we toss scratch into the chicken yard. They come running and are easy to count then. If I come up short I check the nest boxes, where the missing hen is usually to be found. If I get a short count several days in a row, I check to see if the hen in the nest box has gone broody.

A broody hen will maintain a puffed position even after being removed from the nest. I collect the eggs and wait to see what she'll do. If she keeps returning to the nest, then sure enough, she's broody. With no rooster at present, the eggs she's trying to set on are infertile.

I've actually been waiting for a broody so that I can get our next batch of chicks. All our hens are getting older and we haven't had any pullets hatched on the homestead for a couple of years. Egg production is down quite a bit so it's time to get some younger hens into the flock mix. Also another rooster, so we can keep on perpetuating our own flock.

Our nest boxes are a tad too small for a mother hen and 16 chicks, so I set up my brooder area in the chicken coop.

This is where I want her to be.

My primary reason for this is not only to give the chicks room, but to keep other hens from laying in the broody's nest. My chickens love to lay their eggs in a broody's nest. Does anyone else have this problem?

Unfortunately, my broody doesn't want to be where I want her to be! She keeps jumping fence and returning to the nest boxes. The non-broody hens have managed to get into her pen anyway and have been laying eggs there. In fact, it's become the number one egg laying spot these days.

I have until the end of next week to figure out what to do. I'd like to get her settled and used to the new nest at least several days before the chicks arrive. Seems a more secure pen with covering is in order, wouldn't you think?

32 comments:

tpals said...

I had FIVE broody at the same time and all up in wall nests. You will either have to block the box she wants to be in or do the more secure broody area. Good luck!

Erika Keller said...

I love using broody hens to raise new chicks! It's so much easier than doing it yourself. You could put the chicks under her where she is currently then move them all, hen and chicks, in about an hour. I have done this before and it has worked well for a resistant to budge broody hen. Good luck. I have chicks coming in a week and no broody hen yet so I guess it's the light for me.

Leigh said...

Five! Yikes, the most I've had is two at a time, which is still too many, LOL. The worst part is the decrease in eggs. I definitely need a more secure broody area. :)

Leigh said...

Erika, I so agree. Mother hens truly do a better job at raising chicks than we humans. I hope you get your broody in time. Mine is early, but once I realized she was determined I managed to find chicks that would be available near her "hatch" date.

Chris said...

Here's a trick which will be sure to entice her to stay in the new nest. Make it darker than the one she's escaping to. I'm fairly confident, it will be that simple. But you'll still have problems with hens wanting to lay their eggs in there, because it will be darker. Hens love dark nesting places!

Farmer Barb said...

Further to the point of the darkness: some scrap wood or plastic on top of some hardware cloth to keep her in and the others out. She is trying to hide. The whole brooding area will need to be cozy. A sort of cage will do it.

Leigh said...

Chris, I think part of the problem has been that I've only tried moving her during the day. All other broody business is usually after dark, which seems to work better. But first I need to make a hen proof cage to keep the others out!

Leigh said...

Barb, I think that's the best idea, simply covering the hardware cloth. I'll have to look for something suitable today and try the next move tonight.

Gill - That British Woman said...

keeping chickens sounds like hard work at time!!

PioneerPreppy said...

I thought you had the neighbor's rooster coming over and visiting. Did that come to a stop?

Rivenfae said...

*shrugs* maybe cover the top? prevents her from getting out and the others from getting in.

Melanie said...

Ok, this made me laugh! I currently have 2 broody hens driving me crazy, one of which isn't going to make the "cut" here in a few weeks. Last year I did give my new chicks to the other broody girl, and she was a great mama hen. This year she wasn't broody soon enough to use that method, so we've brooded the chicks ourselves. Now the pullets are ready to enter the coop, but we can't get the remaining hens to stay out long enough for us to close up the chick area. Chickens are weird.

Leigh said...

Ah, so you read my last paragraph. ;)

Leigh said...

Gill, keeping chickens is easy, it's getting them to do what you want that's hard. :)

Leigh said...

A possum got him. Not that I wanted him hanging around our chickens, but I definitely didn't wish him that sort of end.

Leigh said...

Chickens definitely have minds of their own. Broody hens, especially, make for some fun blog posts, don't they?

Renovation in Galicia said...

We have a spare rabbit hutch, the sort with a wire front but a darkened end as well, we move broodies at night after they have settled down, attached to the broody hutch we have an enclosed wire run so nothing else can get in or out. If the hen has stayed sitting for at least two days we then either give her fertile eggs to hatch or chicks if we have any always done under cover of darkness.

Ngo Family Farm said...

By one Buff is an unbreakable broody at the moment too! (And we are rooster-less right now, although I think one of my new pullets is actually a cockerel). Hmmm...wonder if I could let my broody mother the 6 week old birds I have?
-Jaime

Ngo Family Farm said...

*my one Buff...

Julene said...

The hens do have a mind of their own! Chicken minds are complex! :)

the Goodwife said...

Ahhh broody hens, they just so desperately want to be mothers! Our Buff hen goes broody a lot as well, and the other hens ALWAYS want to lay in the nest she's sitting in, so the eggs almost ALWAYS get broken in the kerfuffle! We are rooster-less so it doesn't do a bit of good to have a broody hen, and it's annoying when the eggs get broken. We had two Buff hens, but the broody one is currently residing in my freezer......because something had to give. :)

Harry Flashman said...

My chickens go to great extremes to hide their nests when they are broody. However, Tuggy the Labrador has grown quite expert at ferreting them out so she can eat the eggs. Belle the hound dog follows around behind Tuggy and gets her share of eggs too. I encourage the dogs to eat the eggs because I don't eat them, and because it helps hold down the number of chickens. Last count I had about 55.

Nancy po said...

I have never had a broody hen so far, odd?

clarajteixeira said...

My chickens aren't even laying yet but I'm so excited to have a broody hen someday that I am currently building an a-frame enclosure just for the time it happens! We have a breed that has been bred to retain its broodiness and one breeder has experienced one of his 5 month old pullets going broody! Time will tell what kind of obstinate hens I will have. :-)

Leigh said...

That's a good idea and sounds like what I need.

Leigh said...

That would be great if you could get her to do it! Actually, my broody just changed her mind. Hasn't been on the nest for at least two days. Dang! Just after I ordered some chicks for her!

Leigh said...

And we think they're dumb, LOL. Mine outsmart me all the time. :)

Leigh said...

Yes, broken eggs would be annoying! The Buffs do go broody a lot. Good mama hens as long as there's a rooster to be the papa.

Leigh said...

Harry, you have 55 chickens! And you don't eat eggs! Amazing. Good dog food though. I feed our extras to the pigs.

Leigh said...

Nancy, that is odd. Hopefully you won't!

Leigh said...

That is a very good idea! I thought I had a plan but I'm afraid it's fizzled. What kind of chickens do you have?

clarajteixeira said...

I have Icelandic chicks and just recently acquired Cayuga ducks.