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Guide to Letting Broody Hens Hatch and Raise Chicks

A broody hen is the absolute best way to hatch chicks for you and your flock. She will do all the work, she’ll have a better hatch rate than you...
By Pyxis · Sep 22, 2013 · Updated Apr 25, 2015 · ·
Rating:
4.77273/5,
  1. Pyxis
    Using a Broody Hen to Hatch and Raise Chicks
    [​IMG]

    A broody hen is the absolute best way to hatch chicks for you and your flock. She will do all the work, she’ll have a better hatch rate than you ever will, and, best of all, no stinky brooders to clean up. It can be nerve wrecking when you let a broody hatch for you the first time, especially if you’ve bought her really expensive hatching eggs. Hopefully this guide will help take you through it and put your mind at ease.


    Getting and Identifying a Broody

    The first step in using a broody hen to hatch and raise chicks is, of course, to have a broody. If you want a broody hen, not all breeds are created equal. Of the most popular breeds, Silkies and cochins are the most broody breeds, followed by brahmas and orpingtons. Other breeds good for brooding are the older, historic breeds among whom broodiness is the norm. Old English Games, for example, express the trait at virtually 100%, and the hens are wonderful, attentive, fiercely protective mothers. In addition to Old English Games, also consider Kraienkoppes, Malays, Shamos, Asils, Madagascar Games, and some strains of Dorking. Get one of these and you’ll have a broody. However, even supposedly non broody breeds can go broody, as you’ll see later when you meet Lemon, my red sex link. Identifying a broody is fairly easy. They will suddenly start spending all their time on the nest, only getting up once or twice a day to eat and drink. They will also poop at this time, and it will be huge compared to regular poops, so do not be alarmed when you see this. She may also act a little more aggressive towards other birds when she’s off the nest – think about it in terms of what she’d do if she was wild. She’d want to scare other animals and birds away from her nest to protect it, so a little extra aggression is normal. She may also pluck her breast and belly to make a bare patch, which allows her to warm the eggs better. When you reach toward her while she is on the nest or try to take her eggs, she will most likely puff up at you and growl. She may even peck or bite you. If you go to collect eggs and encounter this, you probably have a broody:


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    Where to Let Her Brood
    Your broody hen, chances are, has gone broody in a nesting box, and probably the favorite one of all the hens. So now you must decide whether to let her brood in her box or move her to a new place. There are pros and cons of each. If you choose to let her sit in her chosen spot, it will be less stressful for her than undergoing a move. This also lets her continue to interact with the flock, and you won’t have to provide separate food and water for her. But you may get other hens laying eggs under her each day, which is problematic because after the first eggs hatch, she’s going to get up and abandon those new eggs to take care of the chicks. This is the biggest problem with this method. The easy solution is to mark her eggs and remove new ones each day. There is a chance, however, that other birds getting into her nest and jostling around can accidentally break eggs. Sometimes, a hen will be so protective of her nest that she won’t allow other birds in to lay their eggs, which solves this problem for you.

    You may also decide to move her. This will keep her separate from the flock and allow her respite from other hens trying to get into her nest to lay eggs, and will also make it easier for you to keep track of her eggs. However, this will also mean more work for you. You will have to make her her own area and provide food and water for her each day. She may also refuse to sit in the new area and, if you push her enough, she may break from being broody and not hatch you any eggs at all. To decide whether or not to move her, consider your flock and its dynamics to decide if it is necessary.

    To move a broody, your best bet is to wait until it is night and have her new nest all ready for her, eggs and all. If she’s already sitting on the eggs you want her to hatch, take them from her carefully, and be warned that she may peck and bite you while you do this. You may have to wear gloves. Get them settled in the new nest, and then move your hen. Hold her so that you are holding her wings against her body so she cannot flap and be prepared – she may struggle and thrash. Once you get her to the new nest area, set her down near the eggs, not on them. You don’t want her to panic and break them. She may accept the new nest, or she may refuse to sit. She may break from being broody, too. That’s the chance you take when moving her.



    700.jpg


    A broody I moved in the early days of my flock.


    The Eggs



    So now you have a broody and have her where you want her to sit. The next step is to get some eggs for her. If you have a rooster and you want to hatch some of your own eggs, chances are that’s already taken care of for you. She’s probably gone broody on some eggs already. If not, or if you want to add more than she already has, you can wait until she’s up for her daily eating and drinking and put some in her nest. If you need to take eggs from her because she has more than you want her to have, you can wait until she’s up for the day and remove them from the nest.

    If you don’t have a rooster, or you want to hatch eggs other than your own, you’ll have to give them to her. When I’m purchasing expensive eggs for my broodies, I like to make sure they’re committed before giving them the eggs. I simply wait until she’s been sitting a week before I give them to her. This way I know she means business. There’s also very little chance that the extra week will make her give up too early. All my hens that I’ve given eggs to this way have always gone to hatch. I even had a silkie sit a full three months. So don’t be worried that she may not go the extra days if you choose to test her first. It’s pretty simple to give her the eggs you want her to have. While she’s waiting for the eggs, let her sit on infertile eggs or golf balls. Once you have the eggs and they’re ready to go under her, wait until she’s off the nest for the day and switch the infertile eggs or golf balls for the new eggs. That’s it. I’ve never had a broody refuse eggs. You could also slide them under her while she’s sitting, but you might get pecked and bitten this way.


    The Incubation
    This part is pretty simple. Your hen is going to do most of the work for you. The biggest things to worry about are her health and the possibility of bad eggs. Also, this is time during which you candle her eggs, if you choose. To make sure she’s staying in good health, just make sure she’s getting off the nest each day to eat and drink. I have sometimes had to physically remove a broody from her nest each to eat and drink, she was so committed. You may do this if necessary; it won’t affect the incubation as long as you’re careful not to damage any eggs while removing her. She will stay off the nest for up to half an hour, and that’s fine. It won’t hurt the eggs to cool down during this time.

    Generally speaking, a broody will kick out eggs that are no good. Somehow they are able to tell. However, sometimes they don’t and that’s when you can get an egg exploding under your hen. I had this happen under a silkie once, and thankfully the rest of the eggs hatched fine, but it was a big mess and the poor hen was coated in disgusting rotten egg gunk. So to avoid this now, I candle the eggs. I usually check on day ten. If I can see veins and embryos, I know they are good and I let her keep them. If they’re clear or have a smell, they get chucked. The rest I leave up to the hen.




    The Hatch
    This is again something the hen will handle for you. I will check in from time to time just to make sure all is well and nothing bad is happening. I never remove an egg from under the hen during this time, and neither should you. They need to be under the hen where they have humidity and warmth to avoid hatching issues. If you leave her alone, she will very likely get them all hatched without a hitch.

    I will mention that for first time broodies, you do want to check in on her during this time. Sometimes, for reasons unknown, a hen will kill newly hatched chicks or accidentally crush them to death. I even know of a hen that kicked the eggs out from under her as soon as they started to hatch. This is rare, and has never happened to me, but be aware that it may happen. Just in case, you may want to have a brooder set up to take chicks if she rejects them.




    Raising the Chicks
    Now that she has hatched the chicks, you have to decide whether or not you want her to raise them with the flock. Actually, you should decide this ahead of time so you have the area all set up if you do move them. I have done it both ways, and both ways have pros and cons.




    700.jpg

    Pictured above is Penny, my rescued buff orpington, with her first brood. I let her raise them with the flock. The advantages of this were that her life was less disrupted and she could continue to forage and interact with the flock as she usually would. It also allowed the chicks to get used to the rest of the flock and to have access to a varied diet with plenty of bugs and greens. The disadvantages included having to put the whole flock on chick starter, since chicks cannot eat layer pellets, and the chicks were much less protected from predators. Even crows will take very young chicks. Sometimes the rest of your flock will attack young chicks. Penny did lose two chicks.




    700.jpg

    Above is Lemon, whom I separated from the flock to raise her chicks. The advantages to this method were that I did not have to put the whole flock on chick starter; I just had to provide it for Lemon and her chicks. The chicks were also much more protected from predators and their older flock mates. Lemon has not lost any chicks. Also, Lemon proved to be a very aggressive broody and would attack any bird that she thought got too close to her chicks, resulting in several all-out brawls the rooster had to break up. The separation kept other hens safe from her. The disadvantages include having to put out food and water especially for the chicks and the hen, the chicks not getting very much interaction with other chickens, and the broody having to deal with being cooped up and unable to free range. The chicks also lose out on a lot of dietary variation. Once they were older and bigger, I did start letting Lemon and the chicks out with the flock during the day, which is the way many people do it.

    If you do decide to move your hen and her chicks to a separate area, prepare the area in advance of hatch. Make it so that the flock can still see the hen and her brood so that they do not ‘forget’ her and make it hard to reintroduce her and her chicks. Wait until all the eggs are hatched, and then go ahead and move her and her babies. She will not abandon her chicks, so unlike moving a broody on eggs, there is little danger moving her.

    Once you have her and the chicks situated, either with the flock or separate, the hen will do all the work of raising them. She will let them under her when they are cold, sleep on top of them to protect them at night, show them food and water, keep them safe from flock mates who might think of attacking them, and generally do all the work so all you have to do is watch them be cute. She will even let them turn her into a jungle gym.



    700.jpg


    Leaving the Chicks
    Eventually your hen will abandon the chicks when she decides they are old enough to take care of themselves. Before this happens, she will get them integrated into the flock, and you can expect her to have them up on the roost with the other birds before she’s done with them. When she’s ready to give them up, she will start leaving them during the day. She may even peck at them if they try to follow her around. This is your cue to let her back with the flock if you had her and her chicks separate and you haven’t done so yet. Eventually she will stop sleeping with them and finally she will be back in the nesting box laying you eggs again. If you have an especially broody breed, she may lay two or three eggs and immediately begin to brood again. Either way, she is done raising her chicks and they are now old enough to live in the flock without her assistance.



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    More questions? Want to share your experience with a broody hen? There's a fantastic thread to do so on! You can visit The Old Fashioned Broody Hen Hatch-a-Long and Informational Thread.

    Share This Article

    About Author

    Pyxis
    I have owned poultry for a little over ten years, and in that time I have read and learned from many sources and many experienced people. Now I am trying to give back by writing about and passing on some of the things I have learned through research and hands-on experience. I hope you find my articles helpful.

Recent User Reviews

  1. True Patriot
    "Very detailed"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 20, 2018
    Pretty much a step by step guide on having a broody raise chicks. (Though I'm sure the broody doesn't need it ) Well organized and easy to understand. Another excellent article.
    Pyxis likes this.
  2. Spartan22
    ""
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 20, 2018
    Great article, what I’ve experienced with suddenly all these broodies this year in my flock, I wish I’ve read this earlier to have avoided some eggs and chicks casualties.
    Pyxis likes this.
  3. Cindyloo
    "AMAZING!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 10, 2018
    I have a broody, this helped so much with all my worries!

Comments

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  1. Marge Carlson
    Update to my naked neck. She had 10 eggs and we are pretty sure they were all hers. She hatched 8 of the eggs successfully - 6 little naked necks and 2 regular looking kids. Dad is an Orpington, so her genes are stronger than his!! LOL. Anyway - the kids are 2 1/2 weeks old and goers. We will be introducing to the flock soon - want to make sure mom helps the kids make a good transition. My little naked neck mom is fierce!!!
      Pyxis likes this.
  2. Marge Carlson
    Update to my naked neck. She had 10 eggs and we are pretty sure they were all hers. She hatched 8 of the eggs successfully - 6 little naked necks and 2 regular looking kids. Dad is an Orpington, so her genes are stronger than his!! LOL. Anyway - the kids are 2 1/2 weeks old and goers. We will be introducing to the flock soon - want to make sure mom helps the kids make a good transition. My little naked neck mom is fierce!!!
  3. thiggins
    Perfect timing! I had a little surprise yesterday...a chicken I thought was missing g was just in hiding and returned with 9 little chicks!!! I have no clue what to,do with them. I have decided to just let momma chicken handle them. I'm just not sure about the feed - should I get chick feed or not? I have 10 other chickens and they will eat it all before the babies would have a chance.
    1. Pyxis
      Yes, they need chick feed. They can't eat layer feed. There's not enough protein to fuel their growth and the large amount of calcium in it will cause issues for them like kidney damage, bone issues, and even potentially death.
  4. Marge Carlson
    I am so excited. First broody hen!!! We have missed her for a couple days - she came out this morning to water & drink then back under the hen house on her nest. 10 eggs!!! We will move her tonight to the chicken tractor in the chicken house. Hopefully she will move OK. 19-21 days to go. Hopefully all eggs are good to go. By the way - she is a black naked neck, and raised from her mom - prior owner told us she will be a fierce mama & boy is she!!
  5. Bkjackson06
    I am so excited this Friday (April 13) is day 21! Our Dolly (blue cochin) went broody the week of March 18. My friend gave us 6 eggs to hatch. I attempted candling on day 14 and think I saw 3 chicks, 2 duds, and a demise. She of course is sitting in the favorite nesting box. Tomorrow I will be making an enclosure in the coop for her and her chicks.
    We live in west Michigan so it still is quite cold. I am afraid that Dolly will not be able to keep the chicks warm enough. Should I add a heat lamp over the enclosed area I made for them?
  6. aliren
    I’m letting my nearly 2 year old silky sit on eggs, I didn’t realise how worrying it would be for me, she is in a rabbit hutch inside the pen , she has been so dedicated on sitting in these eggs that she has pooped all over herself, iv cleaned her up, she did run out to drink & eat which she hasn’t done for a few days but a couple of the flock attacked her so she went back to the nest without eating & drinking, Iv put plenty of food & water in the hutch for her but she hasn’t touched it. She is on day 6 I thought I would pop down a couple times a day to keep showing her were the food is, iv left treats under her nose but she not eaten them , am I worrying to much ?
  7. ChickenCrazyAnnie
    Hi Fellow Chicken lovers,
    I have a 9 month old hen, possibly Buff Orpington cross, sitting on 6 eggs borrowed from two brown hens. I didn't let her set her owns eggs, which I can identify as she lays white eggs as I wasn't sure the rooster had been with her - they are from the same hatching and she is wary, or scared of him, and he is a bully with her.
    She is doing a great job so far, and she is now in a separate smaller house in an enclosed pen. I make sure she eats and she had feed from my hand, so all looking good.
    She spent some time outside the house today, and has returned to the nest, flat down, covering all the eggs. Such a good girl.
    I'm going to let her do things naturally, but we are expecting very low temperatures in Hampshire UK, next week.
    What can I do to keep the cold out? I really want her to succeed, she seems to be a natural broody, only started laying on 31st December 2017!!
    She's gorgeous - have tried to add photo but can't figure our how to do it - using iPad. Thank you for any advice.
  8. chickenmeadow
    3 Speckled Sussex chicks will be picked up from our local Grange Co-op next week. I assume they will be 3 days old?? My 1st time broody hatched hers from 1/28 to 1/30 & did it like a champ. I'd like to slip the new chicks (after brooding them for a few days to know they're strong) under the broody on a dark night in hopes she will care for them just as well. Now planning to try 1 chick first & see how it goes, not to overwhelm her if possible. Have you had or know of experiences with this? Thank you & best wishes.
    1. ridgerunner1963
      tried that last year with a bo she killed the two chicks i put in with her chicks she hatched she raised without a problem
  9. Samoeng Guy
    I have a silkie sitting on 8 eggs.
    6 have hatched, ( that I have seen ) but her nest is really dirty and smelly.
    Should I move her and clean the nest, and put her back on the possible two remaining eggs ?
  10. J Rae
    Tomorrow is day 18 and I purchased an incubator Friday to prep for the staggered hatch scenario. My concern is that when I have a chick hatched, she abandons remaining eggs, I place them in the incubator, pray for a great outcome ... should I anticipate IMMEDIATELY returning "just hatched" from incubator to back under mom with the first hatched?
    1. Pyxis
      You can definitely try slipping the newly hatched chicks under her the night after they hatch. She may or may not take them, so just be prepared to brood them if necessary :)
  11. J Rae
    Thank you for sharing your experience! I am not new to chickens but a flock with now a Roo, yes. I have a Black Copper Maran whom has been sitting for 14 days now. She was very wise to lay and sit in the corner of the coop away from the nesting boxes. I have 10 other girls and its very apparent that they too have laid next to her on the coop floor, as she has a variety of eggs under her. Because I do not know exactly when each egg was laid, its obvious that my hatch dates will vary. I am working on a safe, dog crate set up for inside the coop so all can still see each other and socialize as we hatch (hopefully!). My question is this ... if one or two hatch and she gets up, will instinct lead her to sit back on others not hatched? I do apologize if this has been answered in a previous thread and I overlooked it. Thank you for your direction in advance!!
    1. Pyxis
      If you have a staggered hatch, as in if more eggs were laid after she started sitting and she took them, then you'll have a bit of an issue. Once the chicks hatch she will abandon the rest of the eggs that haven't hatched yet to take care of them. At that point you'd need to put them in an incubator, or let them die and toss them.
      J Rae likes this.
    2. J Rae
      Looks like I am on the search for an incubator next and will again, rely on fellow BYC experience and recommendations! Thank you!!
      Pyxis likes this.
  12. Kate F
    Awesome. Quick question. My broody finally went back to the coop leaving her 8 week old chicks. They have been integrated with the flock as all ate free range and didn't see any issues. Is it suggested to let them continue to go back to the brooder boces at night or move them into the coop one night soon so they know where they're supposed to go...thanks
      thiggins likes this.
    1. Pyxis
      I'd start putting them in the coop at night - they should get the hang of it after a few days :)
      thiggins likes this.
  13. Sagey_7878
    When did their mum abandon the chicks??? How many weeks old were the chicks?
    1. Pyxis
      It really depends on the hen. Some keep their chicks for a very short amount of time, some will still be trying to mother four month olds! But in general I've found mine are done with their chicks at around six weeks of age.
  14. BYC-user-452147
    What an awesome post, thanks so much for the information. I'm planning on hatching some amuarcana eggs under one of my hens.
      ZachyWachy and Pyxis like this.
  15. ChickenMama6RIR
    I am going to get fertile eggs for my broody hen tomorrow afternoon! I'm so excited, but also really nervous. This is her and my first time hatching chicks. I pray everything goes well.
      ZachyWachy and Pyxis like this.
  16. leslielbk
    I've been dithering back and forth on how to set up the coop with a separate area for my hen and imminent chicks. I've settled on a dog crate with one of the doors against the little door to the run which I'll leave open during the day. Until her chicks hatch she can get out of the run through the big (people sized ) door into the yard. The other birds are mean to her and chase her away when she tries to be part of the flock and peck her in the head. I just hate that. So she's used to being on her own, is one hell of a forager, and I'm sure she won't feel like its a penance being given her own space. Currently they all lay in the one box which is disruptive to her. I hope this works - it's just taken forever to figure out what to do to keep her and her chicks safe, and your article covered everything so well. Thank you!!
      Naptownsurfgirl, ZachyWachy and Pyxis like this.
  17. SStille
    This is such great information. Thanks so much for sharing. We have a broody hen and are getting a rooster today. I am nervous and excited to let her have some chicks.
  18. ZachyWachy
    We have a dog that has shown an interest in killing small animals, she has killed a bantam(we think) and some magpie chicks, but full grown chickens are just herded around(she is a collie). She will snap at them if they aren't really moving. We also have a ton of feral cats. So when would be a good time to let mama free range with her chick(s).
    P.S. very good article, I wish I could have read it before the chicks hatched.
      leslielbk likes this.
  19. MissNutmeg
    Very helpful! Thanks for posting!
  20. silkieRaiser
    helped me a lot raising my chicks!!!
  21. chickymomma1234
    how old do the chicks need to be before they can go out with their mom?
  22. Happyhenkeeper
    Great article, very helpful. I have an orp that is nesting now but she is in with a bunch of green legged partridge hens so 3 of those decided to sit and lay on the her eggs with her on top of all of them in a 12"x12" milk crate.. Very funny when I go to get the new eggs every day and quite a sight!,[​IMG][​IMG]
  23. kimthom66
    @coconutprincess Yes, move mom and her babies, she needs to be in a coop during these first few weeks baby chicks are highly susceptible to predators. If you have a separate area that might be proffered but I have found leaving them in a coop with the rest of the flock works well, the mom will protect them against the others in the flock but keep an eye on them for a few hours to be sure.
  24. coconutprincess
    Hi my hen hatched 7 chicks all on her own...except under the neighbor's porch! they hatched 2 days ago 7 cute chicks and the mom is an Old English. My question is should I move the chicks and mom back to my coop and yard or what should I do? Help!
  25. sharol
    @kimthom66 I couldn't get to your comment (clear at the bottom). You should check the broody hen thread in the forums. There is lots of knowledge there to learn from.

    commenting on articles is great, but you can't get answers here.

    I wouldn't put broodies that are 2 weeks apart in the same area. There are lots of possible complications. I have a pair of hens that have gone broody at the same time 3 times. I put eggs under them at the same time and they co-parent the little ones. That said, I understand this is fairly unusual. Do check out the broody discussion board, though.
  26. kimthom66
    Can I combine two broody hens into one coop (a growout coop with two nesting boxes) with two different hatch dates? Basically one will be hatching in about 3 - 4 days while the other one just became broody this past weekend?
  27. dima guy
    My broody chicken hatched her five baby chickes ans i moved them back to the coop after three days she started taking them to the run and she taught them everything ....so cute and amazing....now they are 18 days old they free range with her and she leave them alone from time to time but they sleep in the brooding box together....everytime she have a chance she set on the eggs on nesting box and kick other chickens ...i have to move her out walk her to her brooding box ....is that normal ??? Can i let her set on eggs again now??? Any advice please
  28. VivaldiWinter1
    how old were the chicks when you let them in and out of the broody pin in the coop? I have them set up in a pin with the mother hen in the coop.
  29. murphyfarm
    Lol, I saw your red sex link is named Lemon, mine is too!! As a chick she looked like a little lemon!! Also, this was a fantastic article!
  30. dima guy
    I have a broody hatched her eggs in the coop, she insist to stay in the nesting box and that was fine, as soon as all eggs hatched i moved her with her chicks inside to observe them and make sure all are well, i moved her back to the coop after three days in a nice corner with privecy ...she insist to move back with her chicks to the nesting box...i fixed it make it bigger and safer put feeder and waterer for her and the chicks....but she never moved out she stay with her chicks there ...when she will start going out to free range again ...i am worry she will be sick .
    Any idea or advice
  31. BellaSaff
    Hi, I have 4 broodies on 8 (progressing well) eggs in 3 boxes (looks like the wyandotte is going off the brood as of this morning, making it a possible 3). Today is day 18, so I am looking to get any last minute tips. She is in with the flock. The flock is a total of 7 girls who grew up and integrated 2 years ago and have had no changing dynamics till now.
    Any advice at this late stage??
    Bella
  32. Pyxis
    @stretchy4u2 - No, you won't be able to, unless they all hatch at the same time and are the same age.

    @newchickgurl - Sorry for your loss. If she is still broody you can buy some day old chicks to give to her and see if she will take them. If is she is no longer broody or you can't get chicks unfortunately the only thing to do is wait for her to get over the loss.
  33. newchickgurl
    What do you do if a broody hen hatches chicks and then the chicks both die. What can you do to help the momma?
  34. stretchy4u2
    I have 3 in the incubator as of 8/14 then my hen decided to do some herself. Now when my hatch and her has also can I give her the ones I hatched. Will she take care of them?
  35. chickenpooplady
    Very helpful! Thank you!
  36. Farmgirl0422
    Great article! That helped me a lot with what to do with my broody hen and her chicks!
  37. newchickgurl
    I am new to all of this. And have a couple questions. i have 2 sets of chicks - 1 set we hatched with an incubator and the other were hatched with our broody hen. Our momma and babies are in a seperate run from our older flock. But it is attached to our big run so they are always together. My question is at what age should we let momma and babies in with the older flock? Her babies are going on 5 weeks. And should we try to do this in stages or just open the door that connects the 2 runs and them go and see what happens. I do know that momma is very protective of her babies even with me so I don't think that would be a problem. Plus this morning one of the babies got in with the older flock some how and no one hurt it, they all just started making alot of noise. Thank you in advance for any and all advice.
  38. lightchick
    Awesome article!
  39. NHgirl
    This was a HUGE help!! Thank you so much!! My situation is a bit different, though... I am a 4th grade teacher and we currently have 11 duck eggs to hatch in the class room. After talking with my students, they all thought it would be a great idea for an experiment to see if my broody hen would hatch the duck egg.. I did always want a duck and hear that they live nicely with chickens, so here is my chance to have one, and Ruby's chance to be a mom. Here is my question, though: After candling the brood in the incubator and then the one under Ruby, I am noticing a huge difference in the air cell. The one she is laying on has a much larger air cell than the ones in the incubator. How does the hen keep the humidity right? Is this something I should worry about? ...because of course, I am... Please help if you have any advice!!
  40. Acornewell
    Thanks for the article
  41. dgh
    I also give them hard boiled egg esp mom for all her hard work
  42. dgh
    I have done this many times. I stick eggs under a broody bantam since they have not had the mothering thing breed out of them. to solve the issue of leaving the nest before all eggs are hatched I do the following: when the eggs start to cheep,. I move the nest (at night) into a large cat carrier. the eggs and hen go into a cake pan or pie pan with shavings and shavings all around. this is locked. this prevents other chickens and predators, like rats, from killing the chicks. I put water in a shallow saucer with stones in it so that the chicks get water but will not get so wet that they are chilled and die in the dish (I've learned from experience) I put food in a shallow dish and add water to it to assure proper hydration. Mom takes care of pasting and keeping everyone warm. I put the carrier on the ground so that they know where to go at night. I do check to see if some of the very young or hatching have fallen out of the nest. I remove old shells.
    when the chicks and mom are ready to leave the nest and forage, I open the carrier during the day. I make sure they are back at night. prop the door open so they can always get back in. I have had rats eat the chicks. this is why I dont use a cage. the cage will let rats in unless it is made of rabbit wire or mesh.
    When the chicks are ready, mom will let them fly onto a roost. In my barn this is usually a nesting box. some will not be able to make it at first and you have to check at night and put them with mom or they may be eaten or chill. after a while they will be on their own and you never had to spend money on heat. you never had to check a vent. Mom knows best.
  43. Tony Al
    This is a well written article. Answered all my questions. I have been waiting for a hen to go broody and it has finally happened - a game hen. She is in a separate coop from where the rest of the flock spends the night. Other hens go in, but come right back out. I plan on letting her hatch the eggs there and then she can introduce them to the flock. My only real concern is the very aggressive rooster.
  44. ChucktheChick
    Love this. I will come back for help in the future! Thank you!
  45. familyfarm1
    LOVE this article!
  46. frizzylizzy2003
    thank u so much u helped me alot - great article!!!
  47. sharol
    LBurt6, you have my sympathy. Been there, done that. Broodies will be off the nest for a fair amount of time early in the cycle. I'm on my 5th hatch, so not exactly an expert here. I try to check to be sure they get back on the right nest, but after the first week or so, they seem to have it figured out. Some people even open the incubators for 20 or 30 minutes a day to mimic the hen action. My girl was off the nest for 3 hours on saturday (day 3), and there was still movement and growth in the eggs at a week (this morning), so apparently it didn't hurt the eggs.

    Toward the end, my hens really "sit tight" on the eggs, and are only off of them a minimal time to eat, drink, and poo.. The last day, they don't seem to get off those eggs for anything. I try to put food and water within reach when I move them to the hatching coop (on day 19 or so). By that time, they are so zoned in on the eggs they don't care where they set as long as the eggs are there.

    I have had consistently early hatches on day 19 or 20, but they have always been summer hatches, and we live in Kansas where it is hot.

    Good luck. It is really fun. Try to limit your handling of the eggs for candling. I now candle at 3 days (to cull the infertile ones), 1 week or so (I kidnap the eggs while she is out doing her thing), and again at 2 weeks to avoid nasty explosions. I had to remove 1 egg this morning (not developing and smelling a little funny).
      leslielbk likes this.
  48. LBurt6
    Great Article! Had my first hen go broody on me. I've put some hatching eggs under her and she seems quite happy. We currently have her with the rest of the flock. And even though there is more than one nesting box when she gets up once a day to eat another bird comes running to sit on her eggs. One of my biggest concerns has been when she finds the box occupied with another bird she just sits in the empty box. I moved the other bird today to make sure she got in the right one, but how long can the eggs go with out a bird sitting on them. Will she move to the right box after the other bird has left? The eggs aren't even in the favored box but now that the hatching eggs are in it the girls seem to want to all lay eggs in that one. Sorry for the rant I'm a bit nervous over here. I feel like a mom pacing the deliver waiting room and this is only day 1 of 21.
  49. arcadianacres
    What if an egg explodes after one chick hatches and two more are pipping!!??!
  50. Mojookie

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