Describe 'Encouraging Broodiness In Your Hens' here
Anyone who raises chickens but hasn’t yet experienced a momma hen raising her chicks is really missing out on one of the greatest aspects of this endeavor! If you haven’t, then you really need to!!! It will open up a whole new window in your flock. Watching chickens may be entertaining to some, but watching a group of chicks being raised to adult-hood by their momma is so much more fun, interesting, cute and captivating. From chuckling over just-hatched day-olds who seem to just barely keep up with mom, to musing over her care at bringing them all the way up to independence. Cute battles between little siblings as they try to establish their place in the group, watching them discovering new foods, and learning to take dust baths, climbing all over mom and learning the skill of perching. Then dozing of under mother hen with only their heads pocking out from over her wing! These are just some of the things to look forward too when you get a ----- broody hen. Here’s how to encourage broodiness in your hen(s).
1: First and foremost, breed. The breed of your hen plays a big part in weather or not she is likely to go broody. Individuals within a certain breed will vary, and may or may not go broody regardless of what the “breed specs” list. But there are a few breeds that have been bred for the absence of the broody trait to better fit into commercial operations, and some, who for some un-told reason, have simply lost the desire over time. Some of these non-broody breeds include Leghorn’s, Hamburg’s, Ancona’s and most specialized Laying Hybrids as well as most specialized Meat Hybrids. Many of the non-broody breeds are light weight, have white earlobes and are good egg layers. There are many broody breeds available, though. The Game breeds and most bantams are usually known as being the best, but many other breeds, some of which you may already have in your backyard, are great broodies and mothers, too. Just to list a few, Buff Orpington’s, Sussex, Black Australorps’s, Delaware’s and Americana’s. Also keep in mind that certain strains within a breed will differ in broodiness.
2: Nesting/laying spot. Your hen should have a place to lay her eggs in that is not too bright and fairly isolated; it should be un-disturbed and away from the “hustle and bustle” of day to day activities. You should also insure that she is protected from predators and bad weather. You should provide a nesting substrate in her nest box such as straw. I prefer for them to be on the ground because the eggs being directly on the earth is the way nature intended it to be. Though this is not necessary, it may increase your number of eggs hatched. If all goes as planned, after phase three takes place, you’ll have eggs in the nest. It is best to make sure other hens aren’t laying eggs inside the broodies nest.
3: Age and maturity. Your hen is likely to have been laying eggs for a little while before she matures enough and decides to try n’ play mother hen. Individuals differ, of course. But about eight months is not uncommon. Once she’s laying and mature enough you’ll get into phase #4!
4: Playing the waiting game. Once your hen is laying in her nest box, it all becomes a waiting game. Some hens will go broody on a single egg, others wait until there are 20 or more! You’ll just have to watch her to see if/when she does. Trust me, you’ll know. She may look as if she always has a far-away stare, she will sleep on the nest and will only get up for a few minutes each day to eat, drink, alleviate herself and stretch before getting back on the nest. And when she is up, she will most likely not want to interact with any other birds. She might also hold her wings out and ruffle her feathers while making a nervous clucking sound while running around trying to quickly get something to eat and drink. Make sure she has food and water available. When she does go broody, it will generally be 21 days before the chicks hatch. During this time she takes care of everything, and all you have to do is be patient! If all goes well, in 21 days you’ll have a nest full of peepers. Mother will continue to care for them, you just need to make sure that they are protected from other birds and predators. And also, that they have proper food and water in dishes that they can reach into but are safe from drowning in.
Now you can relax, congratulate mother hen (and yourself for your patience) and sit back and enjoy the playful antics of your new additions!!!
A couple side notes. This article is written in such a manner as to assume that you have a breeding rooster and that the eggs are fertile. During incubation, your hen is likely to start deteriorating in overall condition and loose some feathers on her underside; this is normal and just a part of the process. Also, some hens will quit on the job and leave the nest before success. Sometimes they get tired, sometimes they sense the eggs are bad.
Hen on nest.
Ruffled appearance while off the nest.
Eggs in nest.
Another shot of her ruffling up. It's usually even more pronounced, especially on other breeds that are fluffier feathered.
Just some cute pics with the now-hatched chicks!
Her complete and completely cute brood.