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Does a broody hen need a rooster guardian?

 
Destiny Hagest
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So I just put my mobile coop and electronet paddock shift system together a week or so ago, and so far it's been working fairly decent, but we need to run some more tape between some of the gaps - we opted for the tall stuff, which has large holes about 18" up, and one particular hen was not afraid of getting shocked to make the shuffle through that gap.

After repeatedly having her escape and putting her back, we found that she had escaped yet again and gone broody under a large pine tree along our driveway where she used to lay eggs back when she free ranged. She's been in that spot for about 4 days now, and I've been bringing her food and making sure she has water.

My question is, the rest of the flock is still within their enclosure, and this broody hen is all alone - does she need a rooster to help keep her safe? Or will he just harass her if I show him where she is?

We haven't had any issues with predators getting our chickens yet, and she's pretty well hidden where she is, but there are certainly a variety of predators out here in Montana - thoughts?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I put my broody hen in a separate small pen where she won't be disturbed. If she's off in the yard somewhere, a predator will get her and/or the eggs. A rooster won't necessarily help protect her.
 
Burra Maluca
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I keep a couple of little 'broody boxes' which I can pop over a broody hen that has chosen somewhere relatively unsafe. With a hen I know is a good sitter, I might risk moving her and her eggs somewhere more secure, but a lot of hens will come off the eggs and allow them to cool down if they are disturbed so I prefer to pop something over them, and then weigh it down with bricks, to help keep them safe.
 
Nancy Bush
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No, your chicken doesn't need a rooster......is she sitting on eggs? If not, you can take some fertilized eggs from another chicken and put them under her. Mark the eggs with a perminant marker so you know which ones they are and if she is laying more eggs you will know the difference.
 
Destiny Hagest
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That's such a good idea Burra! I don't know if I can even get a box over her where she's at - she's tucked under some really low lying branches, so she picked a good place to hunker down, but a stealthy weasel could certainly get in there and cause her some harm.

My husband poked her to see if she was still alive (she has been SO still), and she jumped up for a moment to reveal she's sitting on one egg. I'm wondering, could I maybe slip a couple of more fertile eggs from my other hens under her, just so we get more than one chick?

Apologies for my ridiculous lack of experience here - I've never had a hen go broody on me, but it would seem these Langshans don't mind raising their own young, yay!
 
Burra Maluca
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If she's only sitting on one, and you don't have a box you can pop over her, I'd be inclined to try something like this.

Make her a 'safe space' somewhere, preferably secluded and dark. Make her a cozy nest then move her *and* her egg to it, ideally during the hours of darkness so she's more likely to accept the move. She might move off the egg for a while, and it might end up no longer viable if it cools down too much, but it's only one so don't panic. In the morning, if she's still sitting tight, give her a load more fertile eggs to sit on, and remove the 'one'. If you left it with her, even if did hatch it would do so a day or two before the other eggs, and she'd likely abandon those eggs to take care of the one chick, so it's probably better to sacrifice that egg and give her a better chance with the others. If the move makes her come off the nest completely, again it's only one egg you've lost. She'll then likely lay another round of eggs and go broody again, by which time you might have persuaded her to lay in a better place where you can protect her.
 
Miranda Converse
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One way I have been successful in moving broody hens is by putting them into something moveable (like a dog pen) but leaving her in the spot she chose for a day or two. Then moving the container with her in it to somewhere safer like in the coop. When I've just tried moving them without the container, they immediately try to get back to the spot they chose. If I give them time to adjust to the nesting box I gave them and then move them, they are much more willing to stay. And I always do this after dark. A sleepy hen is a cooperative hen.

They also seem more willing to stay if they have a lot of eggs. One egg is acceptable to them, but they prefer a bunch. I have a couple hens who will be nesting in the coop and abandon their nest of 4 eggs to go to a nest with 5 eggs halfway through them sitting. Most of my broody hens are terrible at hatching though, I've given up trying to let them do it. I just take their clutch and put it in the incubator and give them the eggs right before they hatch or sometimes even after they hatch. Much easier to keep track of which egg has been there for two weeks and which egg a hen snuck in there that day and I don't have to bother the hen everyday to check. If yours is secluded though, that won't be an issue...
 
Destiny Hagest
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Thanks for the advice everyone! Since this is our first broody gal, and she seems very committed to her task, we've decided to let her take the lead and just leave her be (with her one egg). Call me an emotional mommy type, but I just couldn't bring myself to dispose of the one egg to replace it with more fertile ones

I think in the future though, if she's successful and stay on this one for the duration, then we will try to coax her to lay on more. I've brought her a water and food dish, to which she has barely touched - she's a little badass this one!
 
Miranda Converse
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I don't blame you, I won't throw an egg away if I know they've been sitting on it for more than 24hrs. I have an incubator though so it's fairly easy to take eggs away from a hen.

I would like to warn you though, there's a high possibility that the one egg won't hatch. You should have some kind of game plan should that happen. You should decide now if you would break her broodiness or give her newly hatched chicks.

If you want to give her chicks, you should have some lined up in advance. It's not always easy to find day old chicks and she won't take them if they are much older. You also have to be prepared for her to not accept them at all and now you have to raise them yourself. Just something to keep in mind...it's awesome watching a hen raise her chicks after 3 weeks of anticipation!
 
Destiny Hagest
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Now that's interesting, why is it a high possibility that the egg won't hatch?

And will she continue to sit on it regardless of that fact, is that why it's a problem?

Finding day old chicks in my area would definitely be a problem this time of year, I'd have to order some, and I am SO over the brooders in my house, not sure I'm up for that one :/
 
Miranda Converse
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There are just so many variables that could affect a hatch. Rarely do 100% of the eggs hatch and when you only have one, the odds aren't in your favor. Not that it can't or won't hatch, just something to be prepared for.

She will sit on the egg for a while, even if it doesn't hatch. She might sit for a week longer, or even a month longer. It takes a tole on their health being broody so if I know they can't raise any chicks, I will break them so they can get on with their lives.

I completely understand the brooder thing. I try to get my hens to raise them whenever they can. If I do raise them myself, they go outside within a couple weeks but in fl it's usually warm enough for them to not need a light...
 
Destiny Hagest
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Ohhh okay I see, that makes sense then. Well I guess I'll just wait a couple more weeks and see what happens. **next time**

Thanks for the advice Miranda, very helpful!!
 
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