About to go broody
QLately, whenever I go out to see my girls, I’ve noticed that my Brahma puffs up her neck feathers and fluffs up her body feathers and makes a low ‘cluck, cluck’ sound. She used to spend around 30 minutes laying an egg but now she’s spending several hours laying before she leaves the nest box and goes about her daily business. The fluffing of feathers and clucking sounds are new. What does this mean?
AJulie Moore says:It sounds as though your hen is showing pre-broodiness behaviour. Another sign that a hen is getting ready to go broody are soft breast feathers appearing in the nest after she has laid an egg. Pick your Brahma up and examine her breast — if you find she’s going bald along the keel bone, it’s a sure sign that she will be broody imminently.
When a hen that has broody instincts lays an egg, she is forming a ‘clutch’ of eggs. She hides the eggs in a secure place until she is ready to sit on them. She will continue to lay eggs in this clutch until she has ‘enough.’ Once there are ‘enough’ eggs, a hormonal switch will occur whereby she’ll stop laying eggs and sit on them instead.
If you want your hen to set, I’d collect the eggs everyday — leaving a hen to collect her own eggs can create problems with setting times as well as general egg loss.
You can replicate the clutch gathering phase by leaving ping pong balls in her nest. This creates the clutch size necessary to trigger the hormonal release and setting stage. Once you are sure that she is determined to sit, move her at night to a dedicated ‘maternity ward’ and switch the ping pong balls for the eggs you wish to hatch.
A Brahma puffing up her neck feathers and fluffing up her body feathers is one sign of pre-broodiness behaviour.