Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast

EP 17 Broody Hens and Hot Heifer Summer

June 20, 2021 Melissa Season 1 Episode 17
Wilma The Wonder Hen Podcast
EP 17 Broody Hens and Hot Heifer Summer
Show Notes Transcript

Today's episode is a MUST!

Let’s be real, it’s freaking hot, and we’re all miserable. Keeping our flocks safe from heat distress is top priority. This week’s episode is jammed packed with simple ways to keep our flocks healthy. We also touch on what a broody hen is, your options, and how to “break” one!

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I’ve 7 broody hens and one is my tiny bantam EE, Miss May. May went

missing, and I thought for sure something nabbed her. Well, we’re doing some repairs in the

back to my house. When they cut open a hole to look at the duck work and there she sat.

In the corner on 20 eggs. Thankfully, nothing nabbed her, but I've one tiny hen and 20

eggs. So, I moved her at night and put her in the maternity ward. Candling all her eggs,

she's now sitting. I don't know the hatch date. So, I'm going to continue to monitor her

closely.


Well, let's start with that is a broody hen? Basically, it's a hen who's decided she wants to

sit on eggs and hatch out baby chicks. Her hormones are a driving factor. And depending

on the hen, it's a fierce drive to mama hood. Feathered Insanity!

Let's go over a few things first.


A hen at any age can go broody. Typically, you'd want a mature hen to sit. Miss Pumpkin

was broody shortly after laying her first couple of eggs. She ended up not hatching any

of the eggs I gave her. Yes, the chick was fully formed. Now, this could've been

something genetic and the chick died for that reason. But MP is young and she may not

have been the best egg turner or she spent too much time off the nest. Either way,

broke her and we'll try another time. I will say not all hens that are genetically inclined to

sit are fit to sit and hatch out a clutch of chicks. Some will leave the nest before hatch

date and some will kill their newly hatched chicks. Hell Chicken is an example of that

one. She's not allowed to sit and neither are any of her bloodline. I don't want that bred

into my flock.


Not all hens will go broody in their lifetime. A lot of the hatchery birds lack the genetic

disposition to sit. They've been bred for egg production and not baby making. Because

once a hen goes broody, egg laying stops.

I do get a lot of questions on how to get a hen to go broody. My honest answer is you

can't. It's either in their genetic makeup or it's not. Now you can encourage a previous

broody mama· by leaving her a few eggs to nest on, Start by Making a quiet, homey place

for her to hang out away from other hens. A broody mama tends to find the most

secluded place (hence May hiding under my house).


Factors to think about:

Do you want to increase your flock size? Do you live in a place that has a limit on flock

size? Do you have the proper space to house a mama hen and babies? Obviously we

want to encourage anyone with the desire and the ability to experience a Mama hen

raising her baby chicks. It's the only way we go here on the Heifer farm. I dont bring in

chicks from outside our property. If I want a specific breed I'll purchase hatching eggs or

I'll choose specific hens' eggs here and let them sit on those. I breed for temperament

and longevity. The bond between a good mama hen and her chicks is one of the most

enduring things in the animal world. She'll teach them so much more than we ever could!

Now like I said, I've 7 broody hens. My maternity ward houses two separate mama hens at the same time. I currently have Mama Rebas chicks in there. Mama Reba is a baby making machine. She's a very attentive mother. Her babies are now fully feathered out

and she gave off true signs the other day that she was ready to return to Cash and her

flock. She was no longer calling the baby chicks to the food, she would eat first and she

had taught them to roost on their own and not with her in the nesting box.

All good true signs to move mama. I don't let it go much further before moving her. Eventually she’d start bullying the youngins.


You need to be aware of her behavior around the chicks.

Keeping a close eye will keep anyone from getting hurt.

Okay, so you cant have nor do you want chicks? Now what? Well you've a few options.

You'll hear all kinds of madness on the internet on how to "break 'a broody".

These are my ways that have been tried and true.


1. Remove all temptation, meaning removing all eggs immediately or as soon as

physically possible. Don't give her a chance to get warm.


2. If you can separate her and don't give her any nesting materials.


3· A wire bottom crate for a day or two. She wants a warm spot to hide in. A wire bottom

cage will cool her underside and hopefully snap her out of it. Please don't dunk

your hen in cold water. They use their feathers for cooling themselves in the heat

of the day and for warmth if it gets chilly in the evening.


4. You may have to repeat this for several days. Usually if you remove her from her

favorite nesting spot and separate her with no nesting materials and a closed off

nesting box, she'll come out of it.


Right now my hens are hot and bothered! Let's talk about heat stress.


I know most of us are trying our best to keep our flock cool and happy. Trust me, we're right

there with you. Here are a few things we've been doing over the years to prevent 

The Heifers from combusting!


1. Make certain their waters are fresh and cool, and in a shady spot. The algae is

nasty during the summer heat, so changing the water often does help.


2. Having shady spots for your flock to hide under. Now this can be anything from a

tree to a beach umbrella. Give them someplace to go.


3. Dusting bathing will also help them stay cool and protect their feathers from the

heat, please be careful if your ladies are wearing hen saddles. Check the straps

often or remove them on the hottest days. If they've lots of missing feathers and

bare skin, you most certainly need to have shade for them. They will sunburn.


4. You can serve up tasty frozen treats. But I'd stick with hydrating fruits and

veggies.


5. I also don't “free feed" during the summer months. Now this is just me. My birds

are hogs, if It's there they're going to eat it. I feed in the cool of the morning and

In the evening and evenings I provide frozen hydrating treats.


6. Adding electrolytes to their water to replace lost vitamins and minerals. But be

careful, always have another water container with JUST water available for them

to choose from.

7. You can also set up misters and maybe a small mud puddle area to cool their feet in. But chickens are NOT swimmers. it's not a beach themed party. 


 Well that's it y'all, I’m off to cool down these heifers and break some broodys! If y'all have any tips just take a screenshot of this episode and tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see what is working for your flock!