Hello all! I have never had a broody before, so this is all new to me. My lone Australorp went broody last Thursday. On Saturday, I took her 18 unfertilized eggs she was laying on (3 roosters, but they are all only 11 weeks old) and replaced them with 12 (hopefully) fertile eggs I got from a friend. She is on the favorite community nest, but is no where near the top of the pecking order (all the rest of my layers are RIRs). When I took the 18 eggs out, one was broken and I know those other hens were kicking her out every once in a while to lay in the nest. The day after I put the new 12 in, last night, I took only two extra eggs out that some other hens had laid in there during the day (or maybe she stole them from a neighboring nest, I don't know). I checked on her several times yesterday, and she was always on her nest. She plucked her breast feathers, showing lots of dedication. My main concern is that she is so low on the "totem pole" I don't want the other chickens to continually try to shove her over and maybe break an egg in the process. Should I move her out to a separate area? It seems like they are bothering her less and less and using the other nests more and more. Should I wait and see if the eggs are no longer being added, i.e., they are leaving her be?
The nest she is in is 3 feet off the ground, so I am planning on moving her and her eggs very carefully the weekend before they are due to hatch anyway, just to avoid any chicks falling (no ramp).
Any advice would be appreciated.