Worried about my broody hen

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Jaye
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Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:57 am

So my little Silkie hen has been sitting a second round of hatching eggs, due to hatch on the 18/19.
Every thing was fine as far a flock dynamics up until last week, when she came out in the morning as usual to eat some fermented feed with the rest of the girls, and my speckle Sussex hen attacked her. As in jumped on her and started pecking at her head. I was there to push her away, but she came right back to try again before AI even had a chance to pick Gracie up. I moved her away and managed to get Gracie back into the coop, closed the pop door and gave her some of her own fermented feed in there. She went back to the nest shortly after that, and I put the broody fence back up so that the others could get at her during the day, and I would let her out if she wanted every morning. The following days there were no incidents, but then one morning my head hen chased her away from the feed dishes, right into the coop, and again I felt I had to intervene.
After that, Gracie didn't come out in the mornings for a few days. Then yesterday I let everyone out into the yard and opened up the brooder fence in case Gracie wanted to do some free ranging. She did, but not two minutes after she came out, my speckled Sussex and my Ameraucana full on attacked her. I got it sorted with treats in two different spots, and then things seemed to settle down, with Gracie scratching and pecking alongside two other hens for a while. My Speckled Sussex hen is an unfriendly, mean and nasty eating machine who hasn't laid an egg since spring. I thought Speckled Sussex were supposed to be nice birds. I have been telling her that her days are numbered unless she changes her attitude, but she obviously doesn't believe me. Anyway, when it looked like everyone had gone in, I went down to close up the coop, expecting that Gracie would have gone in long before everyone else, but the nest box was empty, except for the eggs. I went back out in the yard and found her hiding underneath our trailer, so I turned on the light in the coop and encouraged her to head in, which she did. I don't know why she didn't go in much earlier, because in the past she always has. She never stays out longer than 20 minutes when she's been broody in the past. I think this second round of sitting is too much for her. I give her extra goodies every day, so that she can keep her strength up, but I think it's not enough, and in her weakened state she can't assert herself to maintain her place in the pecking order. She was off the nest for about an hour last evening. I don't know if anything will hatch now. I'm not sure what else I can or should do for Gracie.
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Ontario Chick
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Ontario Chick » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:42 am

I have found that a problem over the years, when you take a hen out for whatever reason, the pecking order changes and when you put her back the readjustment starts all over again. Interestingly it's usually the bottom of the pecking order bird that becomes the aggressor, presumably not wanting to end up on the bottom again?
Frustrating when you try to sort out chickens politics.
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Jaye
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:20 am

You're right, OC: it's the hen at the bottom of the pecking order, the Speckled Sussex, that started it all, then the next ones up followed suite.
The thing is, though, I didn't think I really separated Gracie from the rest of flock because the brooder pen fence is basically a wood frame partition with 12" clear plastic netting that looks like welded wire stapled to it, so they can all still see one another. I only put up the brooder pen fence recently because the 3 that are still laying were even laying their eggs in her nest box and I didn't want to risk the hatching eggs getting trampled. I guess that the partition, see-through or not, is enough of a barrier for the rest of them to forget that Gracie is part of the flock.
I was hoping that Gracie would be able to integrate the chicks into the flock pretty seamlessly like she's done in the past with her foster chicks and when she hatched out the Ameraucanas, but I think that she's been out of the loop too long now and because she's lost some condition, that probably won't happen, and I should prepare separate housing for mum and chicks, if they happen this time. She's not up to fighting to regain her status ATM. Sigh. Lesson learned ... never let a hen sit on a second clutch of eggs if the first clutch yields zero chicks. At least, not in our setup. :-\
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Happy » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:22 am

Oh poor Gracie. I don't know that I have any advice for you. Little is sitting right now and it's her 2nd go at it this year (though not consecutive) and I have put 2 shallow bowls in her nesting box with her for food and water so she doesn't even have to get up to eat. I usually encourage her getting up but she hadn't seemed to regain all of her weight after her first broody session and I was worried. She gets a solid supply of moistened food, scratch, sunflower seeds and scrambled eggs/pasta/spinach combo. I call it her quiche lol. She's been picking steady while she sits and may actually be putting weight on! I lift her off twice a day for a poop and she has a 5 minute dust bath after all the rest are perched. She seems happy with this arrangement so will keep it up. I hope Gracie is successful this time :xfingers:
You may need to pull your meanie into solitary confinement for a while. Or carry through with your threat.
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Jaye
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:23 pm

Happy wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:22 am
Oh poor Gracie. I don't know that I have any advice for you. Little is sitting right now and it's her 2nd go at it this year (though not consecutive) and I have put 2 shallow bowls in her nesting box with her for food and water so she doesn't even have to get up to eat. I usually encourage her getting up but she hadn't seemed to regain all of her weight after her first broody session and I was worried. She gets a solid supply of moistened food, scratch, sunflower seeds and scrambled eggs/pasta/spinach combo. I call it her quiche lol. She's been picking steady while she sits and may actually be putting weight on! I lift her off twice a day for a poop and she has a 5 minute dust bath after all the rest are perched. She seems happy with this arrangement so will keep it up. I hope Gracie is successful this time :xfingers:
You may need to pull your meanie into solitary confinement for a while. Or carry through with your threat.
Sounds like your Little is living the royal life. She may never stop being broody. ;-)
I have been giving Gracie special treats too. This morning she got her own portion of fermented feed (FF), a quarter of a corn cob, a piece of lettuce and some moistened dog kibble in addition to her plate of layer mash. Yesterday she got FF, green grapes and mealworms. The day before, some scrambled egg and green grapes. So I guess Gracie is a tiny bit spoiled too. I don't have it right in the nest box with her, though. Thanks for the tip about putting Gracie out for dustbath after the others have gone to roost, and good idea about putting meanie in confinement. Time to dig out the old dog crate and install it in the run.
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windwalkingwolf
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by windwalkingwolf » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:44 pm

One of the eggs may be a rotter. Rotten egg smells like sick chicken, so if Gracie is a little whiffy, the others are more likely to go after her. The bottom rung hens are smelling an opportunity, so to speak, and when chicks hatch they will smell as well and will imediately be on the menu.
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Jaye
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:19 pm

Thanks so much for the tip! When I picked her up this morning to avoid her certain demise at the beaks of the rest of them, she didn't smell though. Not obviously, anywayl. She was skinnier than the last time I had to pick her up, but not stinky. I will do a sniff test on the eggs tonight, just to be sure.
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Jaye
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:26 pm

Well, did a sniff test on the eggs this morning when Gracie got off them, and none of them smelled. One of them has a poop smear on it though, because Gracie did her business in the nest box.
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Jaye
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Jaye » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:36 pm

I got home today and discovered that Gracie was not on her eggs. I asked hubby if he had checked on her today (he was at home for most of the day), and he said that both times he checked she was off the nest. I just went down to check, and the eggs are barely warm. This is the last day before hatch day. Can anyone suggest what to do to possibly save these eggs? I don't have an incubator or a brooder. I also sold my heat lamps because I had never used them. I can make a quick run to the feedstore to see what they have. I'm so upset. This is because she was constantly being harassed by Bronwyn, and yesterday Memphis found a way into her area and laid an egg in with the rest of them. I think she's just fed up.
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Re: Worried about my broody hen

Post by Colleen Kinzie » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:44 pm

Do you have a heating pad or hot water bottle? Worth a try !! Especially if it is that close to hatch date
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