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Mustang

broody hen?

I've got a new hen. She's just started laying. I found her this morning on a mass of her eggs in the greenhouse. She's not moving from it, even for food, and is protecting them. She obviously wants to hatch them.

My question is, being a total beginner when it comes to chooks, given she's been with me for a month, is there any chance these eggs are fertile, or is she wasting her time? If she is wasting her time, should I shoo her away and take the eggs, or leave her?

Any advice appreciated.
chickenlady

Unless she's been with a cockerel within the last fortnight or so then the eggs won't be fertile and she'll be losing condition by brooding them with no result. Eggs can be checked to see if they contain an embryo by "candling" them at 10-14 days (this means taking the eggs into a darkened place and shining a strong light through them).

She's obviously broody and you now have to decide whether to give her fertile eggs to hatch...with the resulting problems of you having to decide what to do with any cockerels that may hatch...or you have to "unbroody"her. Take the eggs away if you decide to do that and make sure she doesn't make herself another little cosy nest. Most folk unbroody hens by placing them in a wire crate (i.e. dog basket or similar) raised up off the ground on a couple of bricks...in a safe place. Give food and water. The idea is to make the hen feel cooler and it helps to bring the hormones back to normal laying mode again.

If you are a beginner with poultry then maybe it would be best to "unbroody" her before embarking on raising another flock - although that is a very interesting and rewarding venture as long as you've researched the whys and wherefores... and have the room.

Hope this helps. Smile
Chez

I agree with chickenlady. The only other thing I'd add is that you can get sexed chicks, that are identifiable as female at hatch. If you are desperate to start a family, that would be the way to go.

Otherwise, pop her in the cooler for three or for days and that should do the trick.
Mustang

Thanks for all the advice. Later this afternoon, she decided to leave her eggs and went to play with the other hens. I took the eggs. She didn't go back to her nest, so maybe it was a fleeting nest thing with her.

I also found a large loads of eggs tucked away in another area of the garden. Why can't they use the nest box I gave them instead of sleeping in it and laying in the garden!
chickenlady

One of mine took to laying out for a couple of weeks, when it was very hot. She's now back to laying in the nest box, thank heavens. One place she chose was right in the middle of the gooseberry bushes. It was just too stuffy in the henhouse at that time.

You might like to put a couple of golf balls in the nest box to remind them where they are supposed to lay.
Mustang

I've had a few golfballs in their nesting box for a couple of weeks. All 5 hens jam themselves into it, ignoring the balls, and settle down for sleep. I even left the lid of the box open for a few days, but that didn't stop them.

Someone suggested it was because the coup perches were lower than the nesting box?
Chez

Yes, that will be contributing - they like to get up as high as they can. Could you stick a bit of board in front of the boxes at night to close them off?
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