Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Not Sick

with 8 comments

Cyndie figured out that the behavior we are seeing in our Wyandotte –well, unfortunately, now two Wyandottes– is a case of them going “broody.” They want to hatch eggs. From what we have learned, reading up on the subject, Wyandottes have a noteworthy tendency for becoming broody.

The vision of that first hen splayed out in the nest box, when I initially spotted her there, looked completely different than normal. She seemed like a big water balloon, the way she spread out. Knowing now that she was trying to incubate eggs, it makes perfect sense.

Looks like we will have our work cut out for us to break the hens of the broody behavior. That mothering instinct kicks in and changes their hormones. Since there are no fertilized eggs to be hatched, there is the possibility that broodiness will continue beyond the average 21 days, given no reward of chicks.

Prior to kicking into gear with some of the more involved re-training suggestions, Cyndie has tried simply removing the hens from the nest boxes and putting them out with the others. Our second brooder grumpily sat right down on the ground and refused to join in the frivolity of a mealworm snack.

Her loss.

Discovering that they aren’t sick has been a relief, but there are still reasons for concern. We certainly enjoy getting eggs from our hens, but if one stops laying for a time, it’s not a serious problem. However, if the broody hen doesn’t get back to her normal self, it can be hard on her health over time.

Of even more concern to me is that going broody can get to be contagious, certainly supported by our recent evidence of the second Wyandotte taking to similar behavior in another nest box.

We’ll be intensifying our efforts to interfere with their brooding instincts until we can get things back to usual.

Just when it was feeling like we were getting the hang of this chicken rearing, another new lesson pops up to remind us how little we actually know.

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Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

8 Responses

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  1. Let her have some eggs (you could get fertilized eggs from anyone with a rooster)! It is much easier to have mama raise chicks than do it yourself. 😉 We have found the natural cycle of predators and hatching new chicks tends to keep our flock right where we want it.

    Liz

    May 10, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    • Makes sense. Does the flock accept the new chicks without conflict?

      johnwhays

      May 10, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      • No. But ma a does all the protecting, socializing, reaches them to eat, and no pasty butts or other random chicken issues (at least in my experience). We’ve had at least 4 or 5 batches of chicks. It is fun to watch the whole process and see mama raise the chicks!

        Liz

        May 11, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      • I like the sound of that. If we were going to keep doing this chicken routine…

        johnwhays

        May 12, 2019 at 6:20 am

  2. I think their brooding is so natural and not to be discouraged: like you, they crave for new beginnings. We are told the dinosaurs went into extinction, but there are some who reckon they reinvented themselves. Compare skeletons of dinosaurs and birds. So learn from those amazing hens! Once you hatch your next idea, you will be filled with no end of joy and enthusiasm for life – like never before!

    Ian Rowcliffe

    May 10, 2019 at 9:52 am

    • Yes, brooding is natural, but, unfortunately in this case, she has no hatch-able eggs, so it is in her best interest that we help to redirect her.
      Her normal function becomes dysfunctional in this situation if she were to compulsively obsess over trying to achieve an in-achievable goal.
      I suppose the disservice we are doing is not having a rooster to truly let nature takes its course.

      johnwhays

      May 10, 2019 at 10:21 am


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