Sitting Hens and Nutrition : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I need some input regarding how much food and water to provide to hens that are sitting on eggs. My husband is of the persuasion that their needs are decreased. I, on the other hand, have been known to hand feed and water them during their "period of confinement". What are your experiences and thoughts? Thank you.

-- Lori (, May 08, 2001


If they were hatched last fall, they are surely old enough to produce fertile eggs. Let her set and see what happens. Perhaps put a couple eggs from another hen under her, just for good measure. Just make sure she doesn't have too many eggs under her. I've had hens sitting on nests of up to 20 eggs. A good egg count for a first timer would be about 8-10 eggs in my book. Your husband is right; their metabolism slows down when they set. They will leave the nest for a short period of time, and eat and drink what they need. I let them take care of this chore themselves. If my hens choose to set in the chicken house, she's got food and water right there available. If my hens choose to set in one of the barns or other outbuildings, it means they're independent enough to take care of their own needs. I cannot imagine hand- feeding and watering a broody hen, even one of my pets! They get that glassy-eyed stare when setting, and don't even see me!

-- Lynn Bixler (, May 08, 2001.

Lori, Of course you want to make sure they can find food and water when they take their break each day. However, I believe a good rule on setting hens is the more you leave them alone, and the farther you stay away from them, they better hatch they have. The more you try to "help", the more harm you can do. Just my opinion. Eagle

-- eagle (, May 09, 2001.

Lori, I would be afraid to give her bread on the nest in case she didn't eat it all; I think it would encourage ants.(Of course, we are in ANT country). I agree with the others that you do not need to feed her on the nest, as she will get off once a day to eat what she wants. Do, however, be sure feed and water are available free choice where she can get to it--not necessarily at the nest.

-- mary, texas (, May 09, 2001.

I free feed ~ there's always feed in the hoppers. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth and oyster shell are mixed into the feed when the birds are about 4 months old. There's no insects in the pens. What the birds don't eat, the DE takes care of, including flies. I feed no treats. Fresh water is always available. My birds free range during the day, but still wander in and out of the pens for feed/water. Some hens are setting; they're not segregated. They lay all year around with no added heat/light. They hatch healthy chicks. I have the birds for insect control, the eggs are a bonus. Way too many eggs and I toss a lot. To date, I haven't had a sick bird nor a rodent problem.

My opinion ~ without proper nourishment, the hens won't do well with laying/hatching/thriving. And water is a must for life.

-- ~Rogo (, May 12, 2001.

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