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Help with a broody hen

 
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I have done it now.  I've been busy and have not been gathering eggs like normal.  Now I have a rhode island red hen that has gone broody.  I have had chickens for 15 years and never had a broody hen.  She has been on that nest for 10 or 12 days now.  I'm not sure what to do.  It seems cruel to take them away at this stage, but I worry I'ts too cold for her to have chicks.  Also she is in the nesting box that is 3 feet off the ground.  I have been doing some research and they say the hen and chicks will have to be separated from the flock.  Do I let the chicks hatch, then move them, do I move mom and eggs before the eggs hatch, or should I just take them away now because it's to cold for them to survive anyway?  I live in N California,  the night time temps are low to high 30s days are in the 50s.  My utility bill is already very high, and there is never enough $ so I'm not to thrilled about running a heat lamp.  My daughter said just take the eggs away mom, but I don't know why It just seems wrong.  Any way I would love some feedback  Thanks.  
P.S.  Is she eating?  I never see her out, but am only in the coop once a day to feed everyone. She gets quite grumpy is I get near her.  Her food is about 10 feet from the box  water a bit further.  
 
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Hi Jen, I say let mother hen do her thing, nature has a way. Yes she's eating. While broody hens spend most their time sitting, they occasionally leave the nest for a quick bite and a drink. The other chickens and rooster(s) (not sure of your flock size) could be aggressive to the chicks, and momma will defend her little ones. Most people do give mother hen and the chicks their own space for a while before reintroducing them to the flock. I think the best and easiest way to move them will be at night. I've not known folks to provide a heat lamp along with a broody hen, the lamps tend to be in lieu of momma. I think mother hen will keep her chicks warm. Keeping their nest and area sheltered from the wind will help.
 
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Those temps shouldn't be a problem for a fluffy mother hen.  I had a hen two autumns ago who went broody in September (in WI).  When the chicks were one week old (October) she had them outside in 40 degree rain.  They'd run around for 5 minutes and then tuck under her for a minute and then run around again.  My bird's breed (which is unknown) might be more cold tolerant than yours but I only turn on the heat if it gets below -15F...

The biggest challenge is her and the chicks getting down when they hatch.  I made an insert box for my nest box that I could put the eggs and broody hen in.  Then on day 21 I could slide it out and set it on the floor.  Problem is that they hatched a bit early and I came in there to find a mama on the ground with some robust chicks and the half hatched ones were still up in the next box.  I slid it out then and it worked.  Maybe they'd've just jumped or died and once on the ground she didn't need a nest?

One problem is that she could have eggs of different ages under her.  Then she will either abandon the early chicks to stay on the eggs or abandon the late eggs to hang out with the chicks.  If you gather up enough eggs for her to do a new brood, remove and discard the current eggs and put the new ones under her, she'll just keep on sitting.  Maybe in a cardboard box that fits inside the current nest box...  So you can slide it out.....

My broody hens audition for a week or two before I give them eggs (or more accurately, gather enough clean nice eggs for them)

I don't worry about them being in the coop with the other birds.  Somehow becoming a mother automatically raises a hen up in the pecking order.  My hen's first order of business once the chicks hatch is to beat the crap out of any hen that comes near her or the chicks.  

She is most likely eating and drinking, probably once or twice a day.  

 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you both so much.  It sounds like my only concern will be getting hen and eggs in a ground floor apartment.  Since I'm not trying to breed chickens I like the idea of letting nature take its course.  I have 10 hens and 1 rooster.  I'm only supposed to have a max of 12 hens and no rooster, even though I don't live in city limits.  But I lost one hen to predictors, and 1 hen turned out to be a rooster. Thanks again
 
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We are in North Central Bulgaria... last winter one of our hens decided to go broody on 12 eggs (likely from multiple hens) in a ledge half way up the wall of our duck house. Of the twelve she hatched 8... we left the remaining 4 eggs in the nest for a few days then removed them.  We too worried about the chicks falling out (they never did) but we simply put a bale of straw underneath the ledge.

4 days after the last hatching, she pushed all the chicks out of the nest, onto the bale, then onto the floor and promptly constructed a new makeshift nest in an empty duck nest tyre.

We put a puppy cage around the nest box (hen could hope in and out if she wanted) to keep the ducks away from the food and water we put down for the new arrivals.

After 12 days she took them outside for a look at the snow and surrounding area, then promptly took them into the chicken coop and made a new nest. We kept putting the puppy cage around them at night for a few more weeks so they could have feed and water of their own at night (we dont feed/water our birds at night normally, even in winter)

The daytime temperatures outside the duck house that month ranged from 0C to -23C.

Our evolved concept is let all our critters do what they want to do with minimal intervention. In the past four years we have raised pigs, lambs, chickens, ducks and geese in low minus temps with no additional heating - just plenty of bedding.

Best of luck!!!
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thanks I think I will pick up a bale of straw today.  That is a great idea.
 
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Well, Jen, You seem to feel racked with guilt because you let the situation come to this. Get over it. You will be more effective. The first question is do you want the new chicks? Are you situated in a way that you could keep mom and her brood within view of the flock but separated? [It makes it easier for her to defend her chicks from other hens and from roosters]. If so, get the new place ready and in the dark of night, without lights, take her off the nest and very quickly put her in the new place with the eggs under her. Maybe she has been on them long enough that she will not abandon them, but she may: The new place may not be to her liking or she may get chilled during the transfer and lose her broodiness. A hen's broodiness is determined by her age and by her body temperature. Being a new mother is much harder inside a coop because of the cramped quarters.

Alternately, you may leave her alone, but when the chicks are born, make sure you can make a day nest for her because they may tumble out without hurting themselves but they will not be able to get back up 3 ft into the box. Once they are born, she will immediately have an attachment to them and will not abandon them. Once they dry out and fluff up, she will want them more to herself. They will also require slightly different nutrition, so that is another reason to separate mom and her brood from the rest of the flock now. If the weather was warmer and she could go wherever she pleases, she would quickly find a new spot to keep her brood away from prying eyes until she feels it is OK to present them to the rest of the flock, but I take it that is not your situation. In cramped quarters, she may have more trouble keeping the others away from her brood too and in her weakened state, have trouble defending her brood.

You could also fork over the price of a good incubator[ $145 at Tractor supply last year]. That would be worth it if you intend to raise quite a few chicks over the years. I got my chicks for 50 cents/ piece in the late summer because Tractor supply could not find buyers. Make sure it automatically turns the eggs or you will have to. [It is well worth the price for that convenience!] How many eggs does she have now? Are other hens adding more eggs whenever she steps off the nest? [that has been my worse problem with brooding hens in cramped quarters: you don't know which ones are fresh and which ones are not.
At this stage in the incubation, she may be able to hear/ feel movement, so she should want to continue, but it is getting late to make that decision. Which trauma is worse: letting her continue and risk losing the chicks that you may or may not want? or Breaking her broodiness. Both are tough: a hen eats very little while she is brooding, and does lose weight, drinks less too.
Yet another solution especially if you don't want all that bother for X number of eggs might be to pull her off the nest and chill her. Have a bucket of water ready and dip her quickly to her armpits for about 10 seconds. Her temperature will drop and that will stop the broodiness. She will be, well, "mad as a wet hen" [which is where the expression comes from, by the way: The cold water method for breaking broodiness...] But you will save yourself all the trouble. you will have to throw the eggs.
Let us know what you choose to do. I'm with you, sister!
 
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We're in off-grid in zone 3 and I had broodies hatching out chicks in late December.  They a ll do just fine with a competent broody.  We don't supplement heat.  Mama is warm enough for them all, as long as they're out of the elements.  I put broodies with chicks in a greenhouse to keep them out of of the snow and wind.  If you take the eggs they all die.  If you let them hatch, maybe some die, maybe some don't.  Best case you get some free chickens
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jen Fan wrote:We're in off-grid in zone 3 and I had broodies hatching out chicks in late December.  They a ll do just fine with a competent broody.  We don't supplement heat.  Mama is warm enough for them all, as long as they're out of the elements.  I put broodies with chicks in a greenhouse to keep them out of of the snow and wind.  If you take the eggs they all die.  If you let them hatch, maybe some die, maybe some don't.  Best case you get some free chickens




It is so true that they do fine with a *competent* broodie, and they  need to be kept out of the elements.  Being totally off grid in zone 3 certainly has its challenges. I'm in zone 4 but I have a little ceramic heater just for those super cold night.
During the day, I have them all go in the 'chicken run' [a green house, really'] where the young ones learn to forage.
What I've found is that breeds of layers are so conditioned that their mothering instincts have been snuffed out.
I only had one that brought some chicks in this world by hatching them the traditional way. The rest gave up when I tried to move them at night so they would get their own food. So I quickly got an electric brooder that also turns the eggs, and they did fine.
Also, seeing her brooding, other hens kept adding eggs to her clutch. Eventually, that one gave up too.
Because my nesting boxes are 2 ft off the floor, I have not found the system yet: Would they tumble out, perhaps get hurt?
The size of the quarters matters as well. I fear that a broodie might not be able to defend her clutch in a cramped situation.
 
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We have "professional egg laying hens" and every 2-3 years one goes broody. If they manage to hatch out the eggs, they've always done a fine job of mothering them despite their genetics. That said, I've always moved them early specifically to stop other birds from sneaking extra eggs in the nest and to give them less distraction that might drive them off the nest.

I figure that if you're going to have chickens, you need to have a plan to deal with all situations. I've got special bins I call 'chicken hospitals', and a special area where I can put a broody hen when I spot one. I find that in general, mom-raised birds (particularly roosters/drakes) are far better socialized than incubator-hatched birds, so it's worth the effort.  

Part of this is "respecting their chickeness". Chickens may "hang in a group" but given a choice, they will find a quiet, isolated spot to build a nest when they're feeling broody. Similarly, we always have at least one rooster with a small flock so we know we have some fertile eggs. If we didn't, I would ask around until I found someone who does and would be willing to help if/when the need arose. I know someone who was constantly "breaking the brood" of one of her chickens. I got tasked to babysit said chicken and I let her sit on eggs when she went broody again, and refused to give her back until she'd hatched and raised her babies. Once she'd done so, it was at least 2 years before she went broody again. She was an incredibly happy mom and in the end, everybody was happy.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jay Angler wrote:We have "professional egg laying hens" and every 2-3 years one goes broody. If they manage to hatch out the eggs, they've always done a fine job of mothering them despite their genetics. That said, I've always moved them early specifically to stop other birds from sneaking extra eggs in the nest and to give them less distraction that might drive them off the nest.



I think you may be spot on actually: Last year, one broodie adopted brand new chicks that I had gotten for 50 cents at the end of the season. I had figured on hatching the ones she had abandoned. Since she gave up on day 16, I got an artificial incubator. I didn't have much hope because she had been off of them for a whole day and a night.  She had been brooding 11 which I had marked and that is how many I put in the incubator.  
In the meantime, since I was not going to have enough with 11 and Tractor supply had some brand new, partially feathered ones, I got a bunch and built 2 cages inside the coop: One for the partially feathered chicks plus a lamp and one for the new hatchlings.  Well, long story short, she cozied up to the cage and would not walk away from them and would not roost. She sounded distressed when I tended to the new hatchlings. They too wanted to be with her and nestled close to the partition. She was right back to brooding. I put them with her as well, carefully: The bought ones were a bit older and were warm enough in the coop, not needing really to be under her all the time. In retrospect, I should not have gotten so many just because they were cheap. She ended up caring for the 11 plus the 25 I had bought! That was quite a sight.
There were still a few warm days so I put her out with her chicks. So, yes, this one, in spite of being an incubator baby herself had terrific mothering instincts. She gave me the idea that she was not good because she was often off the nest and others would add eggs and finally abandoned the nest on day 16 when I moved her in the cage with her eggs.
I think that more than anything else, I think the quarters may not be adequate because it feels cramped in there: That is not a place where mama can find an isolated place to raise her young in peace: they are always in each other's way.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I want to thank you all for your good advice.  I decided to let mother nature take control.  I put up a board and kept and eye for chicks, so they wouldn't fall to there death, but the hen has given up too soon.  No chicks hatched.  I was kind of looking forward to chicks, but we have more then enough chickens, and I really didn't want to have to deal with more roosters.  One is more then enough.  So I'm ok with the outcome.  It's probably for the best.  Thank you all again.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:I want to thank you all for your good advice.  I decided to let mother nature take control.  I put up a board and kept and eye for chicks, so they wouldn't fall to there death, but the hen has given up too soon.  No chicks hatched.  I was kind of looking forward to chicks, but we have more then enough chickens, and I really didn't want to have to deal with more roosters.  One is more then enough.  So I'm ok with the outcome.  It's probably for the best.  Thank you all again.



Condolences, Jen. If the hen gave up too soon, she probably knew: Either they were duds [how long were they under her] or she felt she would not be able to stand up to the others hens that might attack her chicks. Or, like me, cramped quarters: She does need an area she can call her own so she can raise them away from indiscreet eyes to the full feather stage but still in view of the rest of the flock.
I heard, and others can opine on that, that aggressiveness is made much worse by lack of protein in their diet.
For that reason, I always have a bag of "pond pellets" like you can buy at Tractor Supply. It is essentially fish meal and is no more expensive than their regular mash but it has 36% crude protein[ compared to 16 % crude protein for laying pellets. They don't seem to enjoy it as much as worms and meal worms, but it is a whole lot cheaper too. 2-3 handfuls disappear in a day. Their plumage is very shiny, so I know they are getting plenty of protein. I feed that alongside food scraps and regular layer pellets. It seems also that their molting period is made much less severe.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Some how I have just ended up with a couple of broody hens.  It only took one day of missing removing the eggs and now I have two hens setting on the same nest.  I have 4 nesting boxes and 11 laying hens.  They tend to all lay in one box, though which box changes from time to time (except Liza one of my ameraucanas, she always lays her eggs somewhere in the yard.  Two of my Salmon Faverolle hens are sitting on the same nest.  I just hope those chicks hatch, or the hens give up soon.  We are suppose to get high 90's by the end of the week.  For the most part the coop is shaded.  When it gets hot I turn a box fan on. When it gets super hot I have a mister.  They don't like it, but it makes the coop cooler, so even if they aren't getting wet, it still helps keep them cool.  Sometimes I put ice in there water.  The fan is on top of the nesting box roof, so the box doesn't benefit from any of my cooling attempts.  They are already very fluffy, and I worry two of them in one box could cause them to overheat.  
This group of chickens are the most troublesome chickens I have ever had, and I have had chickens 15 years.  I don't know if I was exceptionally lucky in the past, or exceptionally unlucky this time, but they sure are giving me a run for my money.  I use to feed what ever layer crumble was cheapest, and give them water, and let them out to free roam during the day (when I had time to let them out), and shut the coop at night (When I remembered).  Now they have a chicken yard, so they can go out everyday.  I buy better food and scratch and ferment grains for them, and I have a compost pile in there yard that then love.  I have also just spent a lot more time with this group of chickens.  They have taught me I don't know as much about chickens as I thought I did.
Any way I will keep an eye on them.  I may have to take the eggs away to save there live.  Some times I think those chickens are a lot smarted then people give them credit for, and sometimes I wonder how they have managed to survive at all.
Sorry I'm excited to be able to add a photo without 20 tries, and a good deal of cussing, but still don't know how to reduce the size.
IMG_20200506_155500260.jpg
The faverolle's are hard to tell appart, there names are Mae West, Ethel, Rose Mary Clooney, and Aunt Bee
The faverolle's are hard to tell appart, there names are Mae West, Ethel, Rose Mary Clooney, and Aunt Bee
IMG_20200506_155527222.jpg
We have Cary Grant in the background and Doris Day in the middle of two faverolle's
We have Cary Grant in the background and Doris Day in the middle of two faverolle's
IMG_20191002_180705764-(2).jpg
This is Liza Minnelli who is determined to never let us have any of her eggs.
This is Liza Minnelli who is determined to never let us have any of her eggs.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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To folks with broody hens who "don't know what to do".
You first question is do you sell your eggs? and if so if you remove the eggs *now*, that they have started brooding them, you may be in for a bad surprise: The embryos have started enlarging, and the eggs are not really proper for selling. You may give them to your cat or dog: It is perfectly fine for them. No danger: These eggs are not spoiled, just unappetizing.
Second question: Do you need these new chickens? If you do go ahead and let her finish, just make sure that the quarters are not so cramped that she will not be able to self isolate until she is ready to present her brood to the flock. When the chicks are in her opinion ready to get out of the nest, she will get them out. Make sure there is straw or a nice thick padding if they have to fall a couple of feet or more: Yes, they are tiny and you fear for them but because their weight is so light, the chance of injury is actually quite small.
If you don't want her to finish brooding the eggs, then wear gloves and go get the eggs out from under her [yes, she is likely to pick at you, even if she was your most cuddly girl]
Even if you remove the eggs, she may not stop brooding, as brooding is a question of cycle and body temperature, not of having eggs under her. To stop a hen from brooding, take her gently and have a big bucket of cold water ready. Plunge her feet first to her neck[to do this, you have to hold her by the whole body, a little bit like the rooster tries to hold her: Put your gloved hands over the wings so you don't risk injuring them when they try to shake loose] and wait something like 15 seconds [head above water, of course]. Be ready for a lot of grumpiness and attempts at getting free [She will be mad as the proverbial "wet hen"]. Then let her loose. She will shake off the moisture but the chilling is what you are after: Once chilled, she will have lost the urge to brood. It does not hurt her any more than it would hurt you to be 'dunked' at the fair, so you can repeat the treatment the next day if that didn't work. If done properly, the brooding behavior will stop that day [Check if she goes back to roosting that evening. If not repeat tomorrow].
Some are talking about chickens that do not lay their eggs in the boxes. Maybe the boxes are not placed comfortably for them? Maybe they don't like them for other reasons? [soiled, too small, too big and other hens disturb them, too much light, no privacy, forces them to fly up or down too hard -true especially for heavy hens that may not want a big thud when they land]. Most chickens will lay their eggs early in the morning. Since you decide when to open, you may want to keep them in until 10 or so, at least until they discover the advantage/ comfort of the box. Even if they don't take to the boxes you readied for them, their eggs will all be in the coop.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you Cecile. I don't sell the eggs. I am ok either way things go, chicks or no.  All the boxes are on the same level, about the same size, same amount of light.  I think I will clean the boxes today, and see if that will encourage the other chickens to lay in a different box.  Any advice about the two hens brooding in the same box?  It has cooled down a bit today, but I worry they will overheat.  Plus if the chicks hatch will there be enough room?  The boxes, more like stalls, are about 14 inches wide by about 18 to 20 inches deep.  There is a 2 inch lip on the bottom at the entrance.  The boxes are in a row, they are in the last box.  The eggs are from all the chickens.  I'm not sure how they aren't braking the eggs now.
Should I make a couple of boxes, and move and separate the nests, and eggs?  I  have auto waters, and feeder, and I give the chickens fermented grains once a day.  I talk to them. They use to like me until I had to start defending myself from the rooster. Now I always carry a stick when I go into the chicken yard.  Thank goodness I rarely have to use it, most of the time when he starts to get aggressive all I have to do is point the stick at him and say not today, and he will back off.  But if I don't have my stick, he will nail me every time.  Now the chickens are leery of me.  I know he is just doing what he is hard weird to do, but the emotional side of me gets my feelings hurt because I have always been kind and cared for them.  Sorry off subject. The point I was trying to make is I try to just let nature be, not interfere. That being said I don't want harm to come to them because I did or didn't do something.  Thanks for your help.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Thank you Cecile. I don't sell the eggs. I am ok either way things go, chicks or no.  All the boxes are on the same level, about the same size, same amount of light.  I think I will clean the boxes today, and see if that will encourage the other chickens to lay in a different box.  Any advice about the two hens brooding in the same box?  It has cooled down a bit today, but I worry they will overheat.  Plus if the chicks hatch will there be enough room?  The boxes, more like stalls, are about 14 inches wide by about 18 to 20 inches deep.  There is a 2 inch lip on the bottom at the entrance.  The boxes are in a row, they are in the last box.  The eggs are from all the chickens.  I'm not sure how they aren't braking the eggs now.
Should I make a couple of boxes, and move and separate the nests, and eggs?  I  have auto waters, and feeder, and I give the chickens fermented grains once a day.  I talk to them. They use to like me until I had to start defending myself from the rooster. Now I always carry a stick when I go into the chicken yard.  Thank goodness I rarely have to use it, most of the time when he starts to get aggressive all I have to do is point the stick at him and say not today, and he will back off.  But if I don't have my stick, he will nail me every time.  Now the chickens are leery of me.  I know he is just doing what he is hard weird to do, but the emotional side of me gets my feelings hurt because I have always been kind and cared for them.  Sorry off subject. The point I was trying to make is I try to just let nature be, not interfere. That being said I don't want harm to come to them because I did or didn't do something.  Thanks for your help.



You don't tell us how high the boxes are, but 14"wide by 18-20"deep is fine. the main problem I've had with broodies is that when they get out of the nest, I always had other hens that would come and lay eggs in the nest, so I had to mark the eggs. One ended up very quickly with 27 eggs, so she gave up because she could not keep them all warm. I've had more difficulty trying to move a broodie than leaving her alone. What *I* think should be more comfortable or convenient just did not appeal to her and she would abandon the eggs.
A little off topic is your rooster. If the roo perceives that you want to harm his girls, there will be trouble. Also if you offer the food to a hen, he may take offense: You may notice when you put a nice morsel on the ground, he coos and coos, and his feet are going up and down, up and down: He is attracting the girls to show them the nice piece he got just for them. He does not eat it: He offers it to her... [and will mount he if he gets a chance too]. Offer the food to HIM.
There is not much that can be done with an aggressive roo because this it totally normal behavior. Pushing him, hitting him will only make matters worse because he does not think like we do. He makes it his business to keep his girls safe, and once you get on his wrong side, the behavior will continue until you kill it. I've had some respite by pushing him to the ground and with my hand firmly on his back waited until the spell would pass, but frankly after a while, he would attack again, even if the hens did not alert on me: Once he views you as a danger, he will attack every chance he gets, usually from the back, talons first.
My best move was to come in with a fishing net on a stick, like you use to get a fish out of water. As soon as he would attack, I could swoop him in: Tangled up, he could not attack and I could do what I needed to do. After a while, I installed a hook on the wall. I'd swoop him in and hang the net with him in it, then go quickly about my business.
Alternately, you may want to try and pet him until he feels that you are a 'friendly' again. Speak to him in a low and calm voice. At first, you may want to put his head under your arm so you don't have to deal with the beak. Left arm between his legs, right hand over his back. Stroke him gently. Make sure that *you* release him, that is is *your* idea to let him go. You will have to keep working at it for a while. Stay away from his hens: It may upset him.
From what you say, the hens are patterning after him and are learning to fear you too which is too bad: It is not a pleasant thing to have to deal with an aggressive roo day in and day out: You end up dreading going in the coop.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you for your suggestions with the rooster.  It does bum me out.  I would like all the chickens to like me.  At first I didn't know he was a rooster, he was bought at the feed store as a hen.  I didn't start carrying the stick until one day I was bringing compost into the pile which is in the chicken yard, and he nailed me in the back.  It didn't hurt because he was young enough the spurs weren't very big or sharp yet.  I was very upset that day, even though I knew it wasn't likely, I hopped he would be nice, or at least not mean.  I don't want you to think I go around hitting him with the stick. In a year I have only had to use it twice, both times it was mostly to give myself distance rather then to hit.  I don't want to hurt him, as much as it upsets me I know he is just being a rooster.  I have never thought about giving him treats, maybe I will try that.  I do always make sure he gets his share.  We have a lot of walnut trees, in the fall I will crack walnuts and give them to the chickens, and make sure he got his share.(they Love Walnuts)  When I feed them I throw scratch in the chicken yard, and they all run out to eat that while I do what needs to be done.  One of the times he attacked me was in the coop, so I just make sure we aren't in the coop together.  
The height of the box is about 14 to 16  inches high.  There are a ton of eggs in the nest, all the hens are laying in there everyday.  I'm only getting 1 egg a day.  I am finding more eggs in the yard, mine and the chickens.  My biggest concern is the hens overheating.  I understand there body temp raises when they are brooding, then the temp is high 90's and two hens in a small area, it can't be good.  I lost a hen to the heat once and felt terrible and swore it would never happen again.  Not if I could help it.  I appreciate all the suggestions and advice.  No matter how much you know there is always something to learn.  Thanks.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Thank you for your suggestions with the rooster.  It does bum me out.  I would like all the chickens to like me.  At first I didn't know he was a rooster, he was bought at the feed store as a hen.  I didn't start carrying the stick until one day I was bringing compost into the pile which is in the chicken yard, and he nailed me in the back.  It didn't hurt because he was young enough the spurs weren't very big or sharp yet.  I was very upset that day, even though I knew it wasn't likely, I hopped he would be nice, or at least not mean.  I don't want you to think I go around hitting him with the stick. In a year I have only had to use it twice, both times it was mostly to give myself distance rather then to hit.  I don't want to hurt him, as much as it upsets me I know he is just being a rooster.  I have never thought about giving him treats, maybe I will try that.  I do always make sure he gets his share.  We have a lot of walnut trees, in the fall I will crack walnuts and give them to the chickens, and make sure he got his share.(they Love Walnuts)  When I feed them I throw scratch in the chicken yard, and they all run out to eat that while I do what needs to be done.  One of the times he attacked me was in the coop, so I just make sure we aren't in the coop together.  
The height of the box is about 14 to 16  inches high.  There are a ton of eggs in the nest, all the hens are laying in there everyday.  I'm only getting 1 egg a day.  I am finding more eggs in the yard, mine and the chickens.  My biggest concern is the hens overheating.  I understand there body temp raises when they are brooding, then the temp is high 90's and two hens in a small area, it can't be good.  I lost a hen to the heat once and felt terrible and swore it would never happen again.  Not if I could help it.  I appreciate all the suggestions and advice.  No matter how much you know there is always something to learn.  Thanks.



That is a proper height for nesting boxes. You were telling us that you lost a hen to the heat... Hmmm. Could that be why they avoid laying inside do you think? If you were to build a set of nest boxes outside, in the shade, provided the rain could not reach the nest? That might be why they avoid laying inside? For the cold in Wisconsin winters, I have a thermometer inside. Do you know how hot it gets in there? They do not fear the cold as much as they fear the heat, I discovered. In the summer, they can pant and pant on a hot day even with plenty of water available.
You have obviously a good heart and want the best for them, so we tend to be bummed out when they do not seem to appreciate. I remember building a whole little set up so that my bees could have some nice clean water. Fresh water from the roof and beautiful pebbles so they would not drown. Well, where do you think they went? Over near the pile of manure after the rain. As a newbie in beekeeping, I worried it might taint the honey, perhaps poison them... I asked around. Well, turns out they need the various salts they can find in the manure. Who knew! and no, the honey is still delicious!
I was not talking so much about giving the rooster treats. What I meant is that all treat offerings should be made to HIM. He will offer it to the girls. He may feel that you, by feeding the girls, are taking his role. It is sometimes hard to guess what sets him off. You seem emotionally invested in your flock [like many of us] so your personal feelings are hurt. I know it is easy to say :"Don't take it personally", but don't take it personally.  Practice being detached and matter of fact. That rooster has a logic all his own, and you may never figure it out. In the meantime, you still need to somehow make the peace [He is quite unable to.] If it gets too bad, you may have to kill him. Ask yourself what you need him for if you are not expecting baby chicks from your flock?
I'm very confused by your statement:
"There are a ton of eggs in the nest, all the hens are laying in there everyday.  I'm only getting 1 egg a day.  I am finding more eggs in the yard, mine and the chickens."

Huh? Are you not taking their eggs? If you don't, they may start eating their eggs. Certainly, some will spoil, attract rats, snakes, coons weasels and all kinds of varmint which may also come after the hens...
I know I will disgust some readers, but the eggs they lay every day have a role for them similar to the role a period plays for us women. [That's it. I hear a lot of men saying berk and swearing off eggs ;-)]  Just like we evacuate our unfertilized egg every month, they evacuate  an egg a day. (and I always thought women had it tough with a period once a month!Ha!)
What I'm getting at is they are not at all attached to their eggs until they start brooding. Note that they do not peck at eggs [if they have enough protein in their diet] and they carefully step over other hen's eggs. Even if they have dirty feet, they rarely soil an egg. Those eggs have to be removed daily. How do you know if they are good or not?
Or did I totally misunderstand?
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I can see I have wondered around this, and mucked it up.  First the hen that died from the heat was about 14 years ago, when I was a newish chicken keeper.  I just felt like it was my fault and it made a lasting impression on me. (They had no fan, no misters, even the water was heated by the sun.  Now they have an auto water, it may not be cold, but it's always refreshed, and not hot.)
I gather eggs once a day with a missed day once in a while.  There are a lot of eggs under the two broody hens, I don't know how many, but more then there was when they started brooding, so I assumed the other chickens have contributed to the eggs under the broody hens.  I have been only getting one egg a day in the other nesting boxes.  Yesterday I got 3 (bonus!)  before all this started I would get somewhere between 4 to 8 a day.  I remove all the eggs I can find except under the broody hens.  I check on them, but nothing more.  I hadn't thought about enticing the predictors.  I guess I need to pretend it's Easter, and  wonder around the property looking for eggs.  I do know where Liza lays her eggs, and it's a total pain to get to and I have been lazy and not dealt with them.  I will today.  I need to figure a way to stop her from getting into this spot, or create easy access for myself because this is not the first time I have cleared out her eggs from this spot. She will wait a while, and go back, I guess when the coast is clear so to speak.  I need to put more effort into keeping them from being able to getting out of the chicken yard anytime they want.  
I don't know how hot it is in the coop, but most of the walls are chicken wire.  The back is always shaded thanks to a shed and almond tree, and I attach a tarp to the front in the summer to give more shade.  I do know it's a little cooler inside the coop then out.
I get what you are saying about the rooster, I'm just not sure how to incorporate that in.  Maybe instead of scattering the scratch around the chicken yard I could put a pile in front of the rooster, that way he could offer it to his girls.  it's worth a try.
I hope this cleared up some of the confusion. I do very much appreciate all you help and encouragement.
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