Friday, January 30, 2009

Broody Rosie

Rosie, one of our lovely Rhode Island Reds has been acting a little strange for a few days now- spending lots of time on the nest, making the weirdest noise when I go near her and fluffing herself up like a puffball .... but she was still laying so initially I discounted broodiness.

Today however, she didn't lay, and has made it very clear that she is sitting ready for her chicks, thank you very much! Small problem though, in that we don't have rooster, and we don't want to raise chicks yet, so this is where Rosie and I are having a little disagreement!

I didn't think we would have this issue yet, she is a cross-breed (usually less broody) and only been laying for 2 months. I hope the other 3 don't get ideas ....

She has hardly been off the nest all day, in fact only when I remove her and I 'shoo' her to make her walk around the garden, (thats a sight to see!) Although even then she stands, feathers all puffed up and squawks at me in disgust! I don't mind losing an egg a day, we have plenty (27-28 a week) and are giving some away to friends. Problem is, it is not good for hens to allow them to be broody indefinitely (if you don't have fertile eggs to give her) as they do become entirely focused on sitting in the nest, and nothing else, often not eating or drinking, and not wanting to move around, scratch outside etc. like normal behaviour. She already looks thinner and its so hot I have to keep making her drink.

The other problem is my other 3 chooks can't get on the nest as she's hogging it! They are laying somewhere near it, although I did see a disturbing sight this morning- one of our Australorps, Lady, had managed to squeeze in, but then Rosie just sat on top of her like Mother Hen! So there was an elevated Rosie with Lady's head stuck out from under her wing!

I've read up today on ALS and BYP (Backyard Poultry) for info, and it looks like its either raising chicks or breaking her out of broodiness. The most successful method usually involves isolating her for a few days in a separate airy cage, with plenty food/water but no nesting materials. Apparently if she has access to a warm, cosy nest -she could stay broody for months :-(
An airy cage with no nest will cool her body temp down enough to break the broodiness. Sounds cruel, but worse would be to let her carry on and risk her health.

What a steep learning curve this is!

Anyway, here is our fluffball Rosie- with a mean look in her eye as I approached with the camera!


HappyEarth said...

Sorry to hear your chook has gone broody! Our silky went broody about two months ago, and being new to the world of chicken keeping, we just let her do her thing...she ended up being broody for about 3 weeks and in that time looked so unhappy and also got worms. So next time I'm really keen to intervene early and be a bit 'cruel to be kind' by seperating her in her own cage withour nesting material as you mentioned.

It would be great if you could keep us bloggers posted on how you go with Rosie and her broodiness. Good luck!

Adventures in Urban Sustainability

mountainwildlife said...

Thanks Ally- I'm new to it all too- had them only 3 months. Looks like the cage is working- will blog again soon!

Jacqui said...

When we first got the chooks and they went broodie, we also put them in solitary to snap them out of it. Over the years though we've just let them go with it - some are so broody, so often, we could rent them out! It depends on the chook - if you take the eggs regularly and get them up for a morning feed, they eventually go back to norma. I just find the whole cage thing too stressful. Having said that, Fluffy went off for 12 weeks and the only way I got her out of it was to give her a chick! Maybe the cage'll make a come back after all!