The Broody Hen

What broody means, and what to do when it’s a problem.

Definition of Broody: A hen with strong instincts to hatch eggs, whether or not they are fertile, or even present in the nest.

Your hen won’t leave the nest, appears to not be eating, her feathers are all fluffed up, she’s pale, and lethargic.These are classic signs of the broody hen. First of all she isn’t starving, she is eating and drinking, but it’s low on her list of priorities. She may only eat just enough to survive.  The fact that she isn’t sitting on eggs won’t make a difference to her, so don’t assume she’ll just give up in a day or two, she won’t.  This behavior could last weeks, and during that time period she will not lay eggs.

Her behavior can be disrupting as well, she may not allow the other members of the flock near her nest, not only is that opening the door for drama, but the laying cycle of the entire flock can be disturbed.

What to Do

You can sometimes discourage the broody hen by moving her nest box, covering it, or to the less dedicated lady, simply take her from the nest a few times the first day. However, there are some with very strong instincts and you may actually have to change her environment completely by moving her to another place. This will take her mind off sitting on eggs and back to laying them!

Chick-n-hutch 

Another trick that I use here at the ranch is getting air underneath the hen. The best way to do this might require a few changes to your nest area, but it’s well worth the effort. I don’t like keeping my birds on a wire grate in the nesting place, but I do have that option for the simple solution of breaking the behavior of the broody hen.

I have a piece of plywood covering the wire grate in their nest area, over that is a gracious amount of grass hay. When the occasional broody hen occupies the nest, I simply remove the plywood, by exposing the wire grate, the hen has air flow under her – which to her, is completely unacceptable… especially if you put a fan underneath it! I use the chicken-n-hutch for this purpose, take the ramp off, using just the hutch for all my nesting areas.

Note: It’s important to act quickly when addressing the broody hen, the longer you allow it to continue, the longer you will have to wait before she starts laying eggs again.

 

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Selecting Spring Chicks

Murray McMurray’s April 1st selection of available chicks is indeed slim pickin’s. Hope you’re looking males only, because everything else is unavailable or of limited quantity. If you’re not looking for anything too specific, there are some choices.

Towards the end of April availability improves, especially for the more popular breeds. You can see their hatching schedule HERE.

Selection is skimpy, but it does buy me time to decide what I want.  The big question is how many. All the chicks I want are sold in a straight run only, meaning a minimum of 25 chicks & they aren’t sexed. This is a huge problem, I’ll be the one for sure to get what I can’t have… 24 roosters. That presents an even bigger problem, what to do with them!

City ordinance states NO ROOSTERS, however, I hear roosters crowing in the neighborhood every day, hmmm… my law abiding nature is indeed being tested.

Jojo
This is Jojo, my 1/2 Silkie cross

The ideal situation for me would be to have Silkie hens and one Rooster. There is a market for Silkies here in Phoenix and I’d love to breed and sell them.  What I need is a Silkie stud service.  I wonder if there’s a Rooster for Rent category on Craigslist… checking now. Think?

The History of Murray McMurray Hatchery

Murray McMurray hatchery is where many of us buy our poultry, they sell quality birds, tons of supplies and offer excellent customer service and support. That might be all we need to know, but the company has a history, a long history, and I’d like to share with you their story…

Murray McMurray officially started his chicken business in 1917. He had always been interested in poultry as a young man and particularly enjoyed showing birds at the local and state fairs. He was in the banking business at this time and sold baby chicks through the bank to area farmers and hobbyists… Continue reading

Best Classroom Incubator and Brooder Kit

If you’re looking for the best COMPLETE kit for hatching baby chicks in the classroom, this is it. The key to an enjoyable experience is being prepared with the proper set-up. This incubator and brooder kit is from a reputable company who will stand by their product.

You can also expect a friendly and knowledgeable staff that will be happy to help you with ANY questions you might have along the way.

Order the kit first, then ask a Murray McMurray  representative about how and when to order hatching eggs. It’s that easy!

Note: Make sure you’ve arranged a place for your chicks to go once they’ve hatched. Craig’s list in ‘Farm & Garden’ is the best place to re-home baby chicks. They’ll probably go fast if you price them at $3.00 ea. Remember what breed they are, that will be important to many chicken keepers.

Everything you will need to incubate, hatch and brood, plus a book and a poster are included in this kit. You will receive:

  • 1) Full View Picture Window Incubator includes: electronic thermostat, fan and automatic egg turner.
  • 2) The book Guide to Better Hatching.
  • 3) Candling Device used to check the progress of development.
  • 4) Brooder – After the birds are dry from hatching use the accompanying brooder to continue the healthy growth of chicks. This brooder is made of heavy galvanized wire mesh, wire floor and approx 1 1/2” to 2″ deep set-in plastic tray. There are clips on the side of the cage for easy removal and cleaning of the bottom pan. The brooder is to be used in a room that is approximately 70 degrees with no direct drafts. The brooder holds 30 chicks for up to 10 days. It is easily assembled. The brooder kit includes:
    • (a) Brooder Cage measuring 30” W x 18” L x 18” H.
    • (B) Plastic poultry Waterer.
    • (c) Snap on Feeder.
    • (d) 5 lbs. of Chick Feed, 1 lb. Grit. and 4oz Quik Chik
    • (e) Single Bulb Brooder Lamp with Infra-Red Heat Bulb
    • (f) Brooder Thermometer

    Order the Classroom Incubator and Brooder Kit at Murray McMurray Hatchery