Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's A Broody?

What's A Broody? Or Why Does My Hen Hate Me?

A hen lays only one egg every day or two.
She does not start to incubate them until the whole clutch is laid.
This way all the chicks will hatch at the same time.
When the instinct strikes, and the hen believes she has enough eggs in her clutch, she will go broody.
Hens can not count, so if you are taking the eggs away every day this will discourage broodiness, but not necessarily stop it. If she feels like it she will go broody!
Lavender demonstrates broody behavior
A broody hen will make muttering, growling sounds if disturbed, and may even peck or otherwise try to defend her nest. She will only leave the nest once a day to eat, drink and defecate. You should make sure the hen does do this at least every other day so she will not starve.
Watch out!
Broody hen droppings usually come out in one large, very bad-smelling glob.
They save it up just for you!
Some hen breeds (silkies, cochins or other bantams) are excessively broody. They will try to brood anything, including rocks, golf balls, air, other hens, kittens, ect.
If you want chicks:
It is best to move your hen to a protected nest once she has been sitting tightly for a few days.
This protects her from being chased off the nest by more dominant hens, leaving the eggs to chill and die.
Move her gently at night and keep the new nest dark for the next day.
Place a few golf balls in the nest.
If she stays on these tightly for a couple days, then give her the eggs you want her to hatch.
You can order fertile eggs from someone with a rooster. Maybe you want a variety of chicks - order a variety of eggs!

A hen is also called broody when she is raising her chicks, protecting them, teaching them to find food, and hovering over them to keep them warm.

Can I Make A Broody?
In a word - No.
Hens decide when they want to be broody. It's instinctive for some breeds, other breeds (Leghorns, sex-links, ect.) will never be broody, because broody tendencies have been bred out of them.
These non-broody hens will lay more eggs, but they won't be broody mothers.

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