"Broody" hen advice needed!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by amcbell, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. amcbell

    amcbell New Egg

    Apr 14, 2017
    I have a flock of 6 and was hoping to add a few chicks this spring using a broody hen to adopt and mother them. I've been watching closely and hoping that one of my girls would be ready soon to go broody and maybe raise some babies. One of by Buff Orpingtons for the last week or so has been showing some signs: lots of time spent on a nest she made in the coop (including sleeping in her new nest instead of the roosting pole like she normally does), plus making funny sounds when I approach...not exactly attacking or getting aggressive but definitely letting me know to back up...this is all new. She's also sitting on a few eggs that we haven't been able to collect. All good broody signs.

    BUT, from what I'm reading, a true broody hen barely leaves her nest. My girl is spending lots of time there, but is still getting off at times to eat, drink, take dust baths and play outside with the others. But her behavior has definitely changed over the last week. My question is, are there different levels of broodiness? Is she getting ready to go broody? Or do different hens exhibit it differently and she is in fact already broody? And lastly, if she is broody or about to be, how would you begin timing the 21 days so that I can time the introduction of chicks properly? It seems like it could be a little muddy since shes spent the last week on sort of a pre-broody state.

    Thank you for any and all input!
  2. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2015
    She sounds like she could be broody,or soon within a few days or so go full blown.Yes,broodies will take short breaks and leave their nest for a few minutes,sleeping in her nest and spending time in it,is unusual for a hen who is just laying eggs and being a normal hen,I bet she is broody.
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    You don't have to time the adoption to exactly 21 days. Hens can't count. They incubate their eggs until they hatch. We know it's 21 days but they just sit until it happens. In the final few days they will feel movement and start talking to them but prior to that it is pretty much a waiting game. It is best I believe until she has been broody for at least a couple of weeks before you introduce chicks and first time broodies can freak out when suddenly presented with wriggling chicks so have a brooder ready just in case.

    At the moment, I think your hen is still pre broody but very, very close to being fully committed. Once she is fully broody, she will spend the minimum amount of time getting food and drink and perhaps a dust bath and of course pooping, before returning to the nest, usually about 15-30 mins once a day.
    I should mention that it is a good idea to dust her nest with whatever you use to treat mites, as broody hens can be a 24/7 banquet for mites and I've had them abandon a nest very close to hatch day because it was literally alive and crawling with red mites and she could not tolerate it any more. Not an environment that you would want to introduce baby chicks into!

    Good luck with your girl accepting and raising some chicks for you. It is a wonderful experience.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by