Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Broody Hen

I always knew this day was coming, I just didn't know when.  Well, this week, one of my Buff Orpingtons decided that she wants to be a mom.  I don't know how much she decided and how much her hormones were in the right place at the right time and decided for her.  Well, when a hen decides she wants to be a mom her behavior changes dramatically.  The first thing you notice is she seldom leaves the nest. 
Feathers down and relaxed

She may sit on eggs laid by another hen or try to keep other hens from laying.  Another thing you may notice if you go to pick her up is that she doesn't want to be picked up.  She will raise her feathers and may act aggressive or make very interesting noises.

Raised feathers when I go to remove her
When you do pick her up, her breast may feel bare.  When hens go broody they will pluck feathers from their breast to provide a more direct heat source to the eggs.

There are two main thoughts on how to break a hen from being broody.  First, let nature take it's course.  You would do this by finding someone who has fertilized eggs, place them under her and let her hatch them.  I am at my limit of chickens and can not have more so this is not an option.  If you choose this option, incubation is a 21 day process.

The second method is to keep them away from the nest.  This is easier said than done.  I have read many people who use a wire poultry or rabbit pen or dog crate to seperate the hen from her nest.  Thinking that this process may take a week or so I felt like the pens I had were too small.  I chose to seperater her from the nest but place her next to our existing run so she can have a little more space and still see her friends.So, I just had to enclose two sides and top to give her a temporary run of her own.

a run of her own

I did this yesterday and she was not happy about it.  The other hens were foraging in the back yard and she found a way out of her new enclosure that I had not noticed and within an hour was out and back on her nest in the hen house.

Later yesterday evening, I sealed up the escape route and today at lunch, placed her back.  One thing to keep in mind when you seperate the hen, make sure she's protected from predators and has a good supply of food and water.

I'll let you know how long it takes for her to snap out of it.  I have read posts of people who said it was a matter of hours to others saying it took days to a week.

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