Poultry Information For Poultry Enthusiasts

Broodiness in chicken and how it can greatly affect Egg production

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Hello everyone, today’s topic will be dealing with a very sensitive issue in poultry farming that most farmers tend to over look

Chicken Broodiness {and how it} can crash your egg production by almost 79%

 

Many at times a whole lot of farmers have never taken into cognizance the fact that chickens are naturally predestined to want to hatch their eggs all by themselves.

Observing local chickens, you will notice that they tend to get aggressive whenever you come close to them when they sit on their eggs.

So also are our foreign bred Chickens that are commonly raised in this part of the world (Isa brown and Nera black).
Speaking from experience I remember how some Isa brown chicken which had attained a peak egg production at 92% at 25 weeks suddenly crashed to as low as 38% due to the lack of facilities to curb or control broodiness in those chickens. By the time some appropriate steps were finally taken the egg collected daily was about half of what was collected about a week ago.

The implication of the above statement is that when broodiness spreads across a flock, egg production takes a sudden downward slide within the shortest possible time (as quick as a week egg production drop of 50%).

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Now before I move to detecting and tackling the issue of broody chickens, let me take you through some broody chicken facts and figures.

  • Once a chicken goes into its broody state for just a single day, egg production is delayed by 7 days.
  • Once it is two days, egg production is delayed by 9 days.
  • Once it is three days, egg production is delayed by 12 days
  • Once it is four days, egg production is delayed by 18 days

The implication is this ; you would end up at great economic loss of close to 70% and above for almost three consecutive weeks if you allow broodiness to set into 70 percent of your flock for just four days .

Also If just 10 percent of your flock should go broody for a single day, you will lose 7 days of egg production from that 10 percent.

Broodiness spread so quick among a flock within the shortest possible time. It is just like a “behaviourial disease” that cannot be easily controlled once it sets in. There is an hormonal cause that causes this occurrence. Meaning that it might start with just a very few number of birds in the flock, but with time it naturally gets to other birds in the flock which ultimately leads to a high percentage of broody behavior being exhibited by almost all the birds , infact as high as 80% if not properly and quickly handled. This is where huge financial losses would surface from.

To dig deeper, a 50% drop in production as a result of broodiness for certain duration of weeks equates to a 50% loss in revenue which can have a grave consequences on the sustainability of the poultry farm.

At this age, it is expected that the birds should be feeding themselves, so a loss in revenue would mean that the farmer has to look for alternate sources of income to feed the birds…which shouldn’t be so.

Broody chickens and how to detect and tackle it?

Now the question going on in your mind is how do I detect and tackle the issue of broodiness even before it occurs.
First of all, you should be mindful of when broodiness is most likely to occur in your chicken.

Having the knowledge of that would probably avoid the threat that it poses beforehand.

In most scenarios, other things being equal, birds usually attain their peak egg production around 25 weeks of age. At this age they would most likely wanna start to hatch their eggs by themselves which usually is a naturally inbred factor i.e it is in their nature to hatch their own chicks. However, the economic implication of such natural habit isn’t favorable to we poultry farmers. It means that the birds would automatically stop laying and this wouldn’t augur well for us financial wise.

In essence, we just have to avoid the occurrence of broodiness so as to avoid irrecoverable loss of revenue at the time the birds are meant to be at their peak egg production.

There are various approaches to ensure that broodiness doesn’t occur or spread amongst your chicken when the signs begin to show up.

  • Broodiness frequently occurs between 22 to 26 weeks of age when the egg production is beginning to increase at a quick rate. But first ,let’s talk about the signs to look out for in curbing broodiness.
  • Their combs and wattle begin to shrink in terms of size and color. The comb especially goes from erect to smaller in size, the comb and wattle color also changes from deep red to pale red with some whitish appearance also prominent.
  • They make some screamy sound when you come closer to them either to pick eggs or not. (just like a local chicken sitting on its eggs)
  • Their plumage looks fuller, puffy and intimidating. They tend to expand it the more when you come closer .They do this to look more menacing and to threaten you so as not to disturb them or pick their eggs.
  • Their vent closes up and also becomes dry as a result of no egg laying activity by the broody hen.

The smaller the size of the combs indicates that the chicken has spent a longer time being broody. Chickens like this would consequently take a longer time to recover and start laying eggs again.

Another thing to look out for is the weekly body weight. At this stage, there should be a gradual increase in the body weight. Once a hen starts to brood, it would hardly consume feed and there would be a drop in the body weight over time.

Now that you know the signs to look out for when detecting broody chickens, you can easily avoid any catastrophe that might want to befall your poultry farm. With this you can then proceed to taking actions that would tackle the issue of broodiness before it spreads across a large percentage of the flock.

The first step is to isolate them by removing them from their laying nests once any of or a combination of the signs listed above is observed. You can do this while picking the eggs or you can do this when you have collected the last eggs for the day.

Also ensure that you collect eggs more frequently especially before 12 noon. You can pick eggs as frequent as four times if you have a large population of chicken in the pen.
The broody hen should be kept in a separate broody coop where adequate feed and water with vitamins is provided to them to restore their already depleting body weight.
The broody pen can also be transferred to a raised platform where wind can easily get to them.

Ensure that there is enough light in the broody coop and the rest of the pen especially in dark corners.
Make sure that there are no laying nests I the broody coop as this would attract the broody hens to want to remain in their broody state when they get into the laying box.

If all these can be done by the stockman in the poultry house, there would be a gradual increase in the number of eggs collected in the broody coop.

About the author

Ayodeji

A Poultry farmer who loves to impact the Poultry world with his vast knowledge of the industry.

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By Ayodeji
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