I tried to move my broody & her eggs, and she wasn't having none of that! So she's in the community nesting box, stealing everybody's eggs every day (I have to steal them back--my girls do not lay fertile eggs as we have no roo, but I did purchase fertile eggs and put them under Olga when she went broody. She's been setting on these eggs now for 8 days and doing a wonderful job!
I, too, am worried as to how the rest of the flock is going to be with the chicks. They're not Olga's chicks--most of the eggs she's setting on are porcelain Belgian d'uccles and bantam Easter eggers, with 4 "mystery eggs" (dunno who's the momma, dunno who's the daddy, just know that they're brown eggs from LF chickens from my friend's mixed flock). I think Olga will be a good mama hen & she's been a really good broody.
We had a hard freeze here the other night & I could not move her, so I covered the end of the coop where she is (the nesting boxes are in one end of the A-frame part of the coop) with a thick quilt from the dryer, built up extra hay around her, and brought her a dish of chick scratch as it's ground up smaller, figured it would be easier for her to eat and digest but would still give her warmth. I bring her a dish of water and a dish of food every day. She has gotten off the nest ONCE to eat, and it was so cute because Lola (my big EE and leader of my flock) needed to lay her egg for the day, so she sat on the eggs for Olga and "babysat" for her so she could get up and eat and go potty, etc. I think Olga was off the nest for all of 10 minutes, though, and as soon as Lola finished laying her egg, Olga was back on the nest. I did have to follow her in there and steal Lola's egg, though. Hehehe.
This is my first broody. She is not very old--7 months. She's been laying about a month and a half and has been a very reliable layer. I didn't expect her to lay so soon, but she's done well. She's a mixed breed chicken. Mother was a gorgeous golden Easter egger, and my Olga herself hatched from a pretty blue/green egg. Her father, though, was an American gamefowl, and Olga is a very small bird and lays small eggs, about the size of silkie eggs, maybe ever-so-slightly larger. Olga's eggs weigh an average of 1.6 to 1.7 ounces (we'll occasionally get a 1.4 or 1.5, but usually about 1.6), whereas Lola's eggs are the biggest in the flock and weigh in at an average of 2.3 ounces per egg. Everybody else's eggs are somewhere in between.
Once a hen goes broody, do they go broody a lot?
I like the OP's idea of using broody hens as a method for hatching out young chicks. I have an incubator, and I have a broody hen. Both were set with eggs at the same time and on the same date, and it's going to be interesting to see where the better hatch rate comes from.
I'm also hatching myself out some silkie babies this time and plan to keep the hens for broodies for next year. I like the idea of letting nature take its course and letting the hens do all the work.