Strange Brooding Behavior In A Buff Orpington

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“We have a Buff Orpington who has taken to her bed. She has recently raised 2 chicks which are now about 10 weeks old. We have separated the chicks from her and put them in the next door run where they can still see each other.

The Mum refuses to come out of the brooder box, and isn’t eating drinking or having a poo. She has laid a few eggs since the separation but none for the last week so we don’t think she’s gone “broody” again. We are naturally concerned about her health… so is this sort of behaviour natural and should we be concerned” ~ Mike

Hi Mike,

I appreciate the question.

My first question for you is whether she seems well physically. If not, I would recommend she be seen by a veterinarian.

However, from your question, I suspect illness is not the issue.

Orpingtons are wonderful mothers, especially the Buffs.

They are a breed I’ve recommended to friends often who want a broody hen.

So I can’t be absolutely certain that your hen is not broody again although I would have assumed she would have assembled a complete clutch before she started to brood.

I wonder what she does when you take her off the nest.

Does she go right back to it?

If she does, chances are that she is in fact broody again.

Check the newsletter archives for lots of ways to try to snap her out of her brood.

If you are unsuccessful, make sure she has feed and water close by and let her hatch out some more chicks.

The other thing that comes to mind is if she is adjusting poorly to being separated from her chicks. It’s not uncommon for a very good mother to go into a state of mourning (for lack of a better term) when her mothering job is done.

Is it possible to reunite her with the chicks?

It may be in her best interest to bring the family back together again.

If at any point, you feel her health is in jeopardy, have her seen by a veterinarian.

Keep me posted and thanks for the question.

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