About to go broody

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.