Broody hen - what to do?

(12 Posts)
DynoDad Mon 30-Jul-12 18:02:18

One of our hens has been broody for the last two months, nothing we've tried has worked - isolation, cooling (freezer icepacks under her) - nothing. She's got it bad, she's even been known to sit on a strawberry!

It's been suggested that we get some day old chicks and let her raise them, a friend of ours wants some so it's a workable plan. Someone else suggested that, because she's been broody for so long, she would most likely kill the chicks, which would be horrible.

Any advice? Any ideas? I don't mind her not laying and being broody, but she's not eating properly and I'm worried she'll starve herself to death. We've got three birds, all about a year old, the other two have been broody but only for a few days at a time.

Viewofthehills Mon 30-Jul-12 19:47:37

Wire cage or put some fertile eggs under her, depending how much you want to break habit. Even if a hen has brooded eggs herself to hatching point, she can still sometimes peck them to death, especially a first brood.
Turf her off the nest twice a day to eat and drink. If she just sits in a heap, lift her up so cold air circulates under her.
Cold water,ice packs etc. not really recommended.

I've got one in a wire cage up on bricks at the moment - sort of a small dog crate that I picked up at a car boot sale for 50p. Day two although I feel so sorry for her I've been letting her in the hen house at night. If she's still not packed it in tomorrow she is going to have to do a night out although I may put the 'chicken gaol' in the garden shed overnight because I don't want a fox to be worrying her through the fence. I feel very mean though as she's very cross and miserable.

DynoDad Tue 31-Jul-12 00:12:58

Thought about the wire cage, but we've already tried cooling her down with other methods - even after three or four hours sat on ice packs her underside was still warm (the icepacks melted too!) - and I'd tried vents in the base of the nesting box where she spends all her time. Might be worth a try though.

Once she's turfed out of the nesting box she goes back to being a normal chicken, pecking around etc, but she eats very little and she's getting quite thin. We have to keep the ramp to the run closed though as she's back in there like a homing pigeon the second you let it down.

Viewofthehills Tue 31-Jul-12 07:59:00

I don't think 3-4 hours is long enough to work. It has to be several days, i think.
Which makes sense as you are trying to influence a hormonal change, not just a temperature change.
The farmers I know round here all use the cage system.
I tend to not bother, make sure they eat and stick eggs under if I want chicks. They only tend to be broody for three weeks if they're left to it. Yours is a very stubborn case.

DynoDad Tue 31-Jul-12 15:20:50

What sort of cage are we talking, a dog crate style of thing? Presumably you put some food & water in the cage with her?

Viewofthehills Tue 31-Jul-12 16:42:29

Yes, food and water.
When I've seen them they've been improvised with chicken wire and wood, but I would think a dog crate/ puppy cage would work. Propped on bricks so air circulates underneath.
You could try a poultry tonic/natural yoghurt/worming as well, in case she's run down?

DynoDad Tue 31-Jul-12 17:21:42

Thanks, just ordered a dog crate from Amazon, with a cover so she won't get wet when it rains.

Fingers crossed ....

Well my broody went straight back in to the nest box after a brief snack when i opened up the coop this morning so she's spent another day in the gaol and is spending the night in there too but I've moved her to the garden shed for the night. I've got a small plastic dish of food in there and a small bucket of water, both wired to the cage as otherwise they'd be knocked about in a chicken flurry. I add apple cider vinegar to the water as a tonic. She's eaten a lot more today which is promising as she's even been ignoring mealworms for the last two days which is unheard of for my chickens. I'll give her another chance in the morning.

Good luck with yours!

We use a wire mesh cat basket, with food and water, obviously, wired to the cage in old dog food tins,, either put up on bricks or, in severe cases, hanging up so that it is not stable. Usually a day and night does it. I wouldn't hang it up over night - impossible to sleep.

DynoDad Wed 15-Aug-12 20:29:13

Update ... she's cured!

Ordered a cage online, she spent two nights in it (let her out for part of the day to eat) - sorted. After two months of broodiness she's eating properly, putting back on the weight she'd lost and, best of all, laid an egg yesterday!

Thanks for everyone's help, I'll know what to do in future :-)

Yay! grin

Worked for ours too, although I'm not sure she's laying again yet.

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