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Broodies on the Homestead

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by Beekissed, May 28, 2017.

  1. May 28, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    As per request, I'm starting a thread on broodies. They are those things that make us go crazy each spring and summer, but also increase our food production in the most natural of ways. If you have broody questions or broody information to ask or impart, this is a thread for that.

    Whether you let them hatch their own or you use them to raise foster chicks, they are a valuable part of food production on a homestead. They are the experts at incubating and raising chicks, making chicks into healthier and more socially balanced flock replacements.

    These two sat individual clutches at the same time and combined them right after hatch.

    100_3278.jpg

    This broody was gifted 20 meat chicks from TSC and raised them all to full growth out on the land.

    900x900px-LL-bcaeaed7_6459_meat_chicks_jons_prom_024.jpeg

    Show us your broodies, give us your broody tips and tell us what you breed for/cull for/plan for in a breed or flock to insure you have broodies on hand to raise your next generation of food.
     
    Hinotori, sumi and lcertuche like this.
  2. May 28, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Here's tip #1....broodies sit better and you'll have more success in your hatch if you isolate your broody where other hens cannot lay in her nest and she cannot get confused and move to another nest with eggs in it.

    This isolation also prepares her for the hatch, when she will want to be alone with her little family for the first few days or first week. This helps her keep track of them, keep them warm, keep them from other curious hens, and teach them to follow her, respond to her vocalizations and to scratch for food.

    If you simply HAVE to let her brood in the coop nests, be prepared to mark the original clutch of eggs clearly with something that will not wear off and then check under her each evening to remove fresh eggs that were laid in her nest during the day. If you have a docile broody, that's not too hard to do...if you have a dragon broody, wear heavy gloves and long sleeves and possibly even have a partner to distract her until you can grab her. In all of these disturbances of the broody to remove the fresh laid eggs, breakage of eggs can occur....hence the advice to just give her a private place to brood, so you can avoid the daily drama.

    That place can be as simple as a pet cage right there in the coop or a whole separate pen.

    Here's my current maternity ward, the best I've ever managed to have, but constructed almost entirely of reclaimed lumber(FREE), scavenged materials, or very cheap materials. Before that, this was just a space to store lawnmowers and tools and has went through a few changes over the years to finally get to this state of being. The dogs like to sleep and lounge there in the winter months and I store hay there then too. I also use this pen as a holding pen for free birds out of local ads that I kill for meat, for penning the rooster to give the hens a break, for breeding certain pairs, for breaking broodies, etc.

    I really need a good way to section it off for broodies in different stages of brooding eggs and chicks but haven't gotten around to that yet. But...I will. ;)

    I had previously built in this side of the shed porch with pallets and reclaimed lumber, but that wasn't working well.
    100_4170.jpg

    100_4171.jpg
    Now it all looks like this...the main door slides on a track and can be lifted off, while the other door is on hinges, so both can be opened for better access.

    100_4273.jpg
    100_4271.jpg
    100_4285.jpg
     
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  3. Jun 1, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Yesterday I moved a broody out of the coop nest where she's been trying to sit for 2-3 wks and put her on a clutch of eggs, 19 total. That's just what I selected out of the eggs in the nests and in my egg basket. Should have stuck in one more for an even 20 but I just didn't. :D

    Cobbled together a little pen for her within the larger pen so the paired up broody mamas can still sleep in there with their little ones without anyone getting confused. Around a week before she hatches, I'll close down that pen so they have to move their family to the coop for sleeping and deconstruct her isolation pen to give her the whole pen for her first days with the chicks.

    Right now she's under a laundry basket with a big rock on it and will stay there for 3 days before I let her out. ;)
     
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  4. Jun 1, 2017
    Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Almost Self-Reliant

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    Very nice set up. I like to keep my mama and chicks separated from the rest of the flock to and my broodies have their own space also . Not as nice as your set up though I love it. Do you have any problems with snakes?
     
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  5. Jun 1, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Last season was the first snake predation since living here... I lost over 20 newly hatched chicks to black snakes. Ordinarily I scatter a few mothballs around the coop in the spring before chicks ever arrive, but I forgot to do that last season until it was too late.

    This season I overdid it on mothball application and I think it affected three different hatches...I normally get a very high hatch rate with my broodies, but this season I had lack of development and even chick death late term in the shell~I've never had anything like that before. I'm thinking it was the toxic fumes from the mothballs in that pen...the eggs with the most porous shells were the most affected, while the smaller and darker eggs hatched successfully.

    So....mistakes made, lesson learned. I removed all the mothballs from that pen that I could reach(some had been placed back under the logs and can no longer be reached), cleaned out any bedding that the mothballs were touching and placed this broody clear across the pen from where the mothballs were located. I also cleaned out the nest boxes in the coop and any mothballs located there as well.

    I'm hoping that was the problem, as I could see nothing else that was different since last year....same male, still fertile, same genetics/hens, all healthy and been laying all winter and spring like gangbusters, same feed, same environment~except the excessive use of the mothballs.
     
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  6. Jun 7, 2017
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    I've got another broody! :weee This one is a BA! :th I haven't had a BA go broody for nigh on 10 yrs, so this is a pleasant surprise. I'll be tagging this one to track her progress in the flock.

    Will let her sit that coop nest for a few days so I can save some WR eggs up to put under her, then will move her to the maternity ward and kick out the partnered up broodies and these last chicks out of their sleeping quarters soon. They are old enough to be sleeping in the big coop with their mamas if need be.
     
  7. Jun 7, 2017
    Hinotori

    Hinotori Super Self-Sufficient

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    I always have at least one broody since I have silkies. Usually more. Currently it's 8 and they are not getting eggs.

    4 wheaten ameraucana and an EE/ameraucana have gone broody this year. I'm letting my large fowl flock age and die. Some of those girls are pets.

    The two 8 month old pullets just started laying so they should be broody within the month.

    I'll be collecting eggs here soon to set. Waiting for the chicks to be ready to move out of the nursery pen. Mama is still caring for them. She's made it 7 weeks. Usually they are ditched at 5 weeks.
     
  8. Jun 7, 2017
    sumi

    sumi Sustainability Master Administrator

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    None of my hens are showing signs of going broody. Which is perhaps not a bad thing right now!
     
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  9. Jun 8, 2017
    Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Almost Self-Reliant

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    Congrats on the broody.
    :woot
     
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  10. Jun 8, 2017
    Mini Horses

    Mini Horses Super Self-Sufficient

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    I have one due to hatch Sat, if all has gone well. And another went broody a couple days ago. Tonight I put 7 eggs under her & hope she stays put (small hen). It's her spot of choice and while not my favorite, will work.

    My first groups have chicks that have been introduced to flock by their moms, still going back to their lock up broody hut at night but, can soon change that to the coop. One mom has actually been taking her brood there for the day. I've found them in there several times. :) Oddly, she's not the most "hovering" mom -- was at first -- at about a month they sure loosen up!! Plus, the two sets of hatchlings have begun to integrate during the day.

    Glad another went broody. I could take one more, then I'm done -- maybe not them but, I will be.

    My ExDH called to get some fertile eggs. They have 6 backyard hens & one has decided to set. So, I will give him some eggs Friday. Of course, I will have to take back any roo that may hatch as they can't keep them. I hope they have some pullets to keep.
     
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