Raising chickens is a process that has many peculiarities. At first we may have to face some difficulties, but the result always ends up being worth it. That's why below we are going to provide you with a little help, teaching you how to recognize a broody hen through various methods.
How to recognize a broody hen
Let's review the signs that can tell you that one of your hens is in this state. Don't you know what a broody hen is? Nothing could be simpler: it is a hen that has received the call of the maternal instinct and is preparing to incubate its chicks. Keep in mind that broody hens do not understand that they need a rooster to fertilize them. They will act as if they have been fertilized even if they have not laid the eggs.
Identifying a broody hen is, at first glance, simple. His posture and behavior are more picturesque than ordinary. However, each particular breed or bird can react in a different way, so it is better to know the symptoms that we will show you next.
Stay in the nest
If the hen spends too much time in its nest,it is surely broody. To check, you can go to its resting place at different times of the day, but try to avoid those times when it is normal for it to be in its nest (for example, during the night).
To give you an idea, it's something similar to what happens to when they have a psychological pregnancy: they remain on guard to protect their young. The hens will never separate from their nest, although there are some exceptions that we will discuss later.
By this we do not mean that they will attack you savagely, but that they will try to keep you away from their nest. Keep in mind that they are feeling the call of their maternal instinct, so they will protect their young (if any) from anyone who intends to take them away.
The behavior of the broody hens stands out for being something imposing. That is, if you approach its nest and check if it has laid eggs, it is very possible that your hands will end up pecking. It doesn't have to be painful, although it can be annoying. Therefore, if you are going to check if they have laid eggs, you better wear thick gloves.
Quickly return to the nest
For obvious reasons, the hen will have to eat and do her needs. However, you will only do so when you feel truly obligated and it will never take longer than you realize. When you put food on it, pay attention. The hen will leave in a hurry, eat and return in a few minutes.
Similarly, it is very normal for broody hens to remain vigilant even when they are not in their nest. This is because their biological state forces them to be always alert so that no one takes their eggs. Surprisingly, they will do the same if they haven't put it yet.
When your hen goes out to do its needs, it could be giving you another clue about its condition. Broody hens expel feces that smell quite bad. In addition, these have an unusually large size. If it's the case with one of your birds, don't be alarmed: chances are it's just one more sign.
On the contrary, when the hen is incubating, it will have almost no bowel movements, since it will not leave the nest to eat. In both cases, it is due to changes in metabolism motivated by the sudden appearance of the maternal instinct. Obviously, it is best that you clear the ground after they do their needs to avoid a foul environment.
Feathers are plucked
We recommend that you check your hen's belly and chest. If there are no feathers in either area, or even in either, it is a clear sign that it has become broody. The reason? The contact between his skin and the eggs he has laid favors the transmission of heat, so he decides to tear off the feathers so that they are not an obstacle.
If this happens, you should not be frightened, but check carefully that there are no injuries. Sometimes the hens can become a little obsessed and get injured. Keep in mind that the plumage is an insulator, so they will have no qualms about ripping it off if it allows them to incubate their young well.
Look for places of difficult access
This is one of the most premature signs, so we advise you to keep it in mind. If one of your hens has recently been exploring the corral, she may be looking for an inaccessible place to lay her eggs. They will often do so in spaces that the rest of the hens cannot reach.
We must not forget that hens, as mothers, seek to protect their chicks even before they are born. Obviously, their little chicks are very fragile in a corral full of animals. For this reason, the hens will look for a place where they can provide them with the necessary protection.
The position of broody hens is unmistakable, as they tend to flatten as if they were melted. What is the reason behind this? When cast, they will try to cover as much space as possible to cover all their eggs and thus provide them with the heat they need for their development.
Surprisingly, hens will adopt this stance even if they have not laid eggs, as the state of cloquez confuses them. Although it is curious —and even funny— to contemplate them in this position, we advise you to stay away, since sometimes they can present defensive behaviors.
When they are not in the nest —they will surely spend very little time outside it—, the hens in a cloker state usually adopt an imposing posture. This is characterized by having half-open wings and bristly feathers, considerably increased its volume.
It is a rather striking sign that is due to the hen's attempt to show the males that it is no longer receptive. Similarly, he also tries to enforce respect on the rest of the corral to prevent the other hens from approaching his nest. If this is the case, they tend to get aggressive.
Although we do not recommend you to approach, the attitude of the hens when approaching their nest will reveal if they are in cloquera. Before we told you that they tend to get aggressive. However, they may also be in an over-alert state. This will occur even in the breeds that most enjoy human contact, so it is better to be careful.
For a broody hen, your hand will be seen as a threat to the lives of her future chicks. Remember that hens are biologically accustomed to having their eggs stolen by reptiles and other predators. In the same way, they will also watch that no other birds approach.
Incubation and feeding of chicks
Incubation of chicks is a process that requires quite a bit of care. Keep in mind that hens are prepared to take care of their young, but some breeds do not know how to hatch the eggs. In those cases, you'll have to do it yourself using chick breeders or other artificial methods.
To incubate the chicks, it is best to provide them with a safe space that other birds do not reach or affect inclement weather. Remember that eggs are very delicate,but even more so are newborn chickens. Keep in mind that, after hatching the eggs, the young lose physical protection and are left at the mercy of the outside.
Another aspect to which you must give a lot of importance is the feeding, since it is vital for the chicks to develop normally. It all depends on the breed, as some are born quite poor in nutrients, so they need a supplement to survive. Remember that it is also essential that chickens have drinking fountains always at their disposal.
Finally, if you want to make the most of the incubability conditions of the layings, we advise you to implement the following recommendations.
- Pick up the sets every three days or less.
- It stores the eggs in a cold space and with a humidity of around 75%.
- Avoid storing eggs for more than 7 days before incubating them.
- Until you put the eggs in the incubator, change their position every day.
- Before incubating them, let them adapt to room temperature.
- Try to adjust the incubator to 37 °C so that the environment is warm.
- The eggs absorb oxygen, so the incubator must be well ventilated.
- Stop turning the eggs around when they are about three days away from hatching.
- Avoid incubating eggs that are too small, porous or too thin.
Choose the best breeders for chicks for your broody hens
Now that you know how to recognize a broody hen, check your corral for chickens that have been called by their maternal instinct. Remember that it is not entirely advisable to approach your nest, since you will not want to receive a peck or, nor, even, stress the chickens. If the eggs have been fertilized, don't forget the parenting guidelines we've provided. Discover the wonderful world of poultry breeding!