Broody hen become protective of chicks that aren't hers?


In the Brooder
Mar 9, 2016
I had a hen become broody about a week after an order of chicks came in the mail. We kept the chicks inside for 2 weeks, then put them in a separate coop in the barn with the older chickens. My question is, can the broody hen become protective of these chicks? The hen is very moody, chasing away other hens and even pecking the sweet barn cat if he goes near the coop with the chicks.
Does she actually seem to be trying to protect those chicks? I have read a lot of forums on introducing chicks to broody hens. There are all kinds of success stories as well as failures. I tried it with day old chicks and failed, but your hen may one of those who can even adopt older babies. That being said, the babies may be afraid of her. Maybe try it with one chick closely monitored?
Sue, thanks for answering. I had no idea a broody hen could adopt chicks! I think to be on the safe side, I will keep the chicks in the separate coop until they are able to defend themselves. Hopefully my broody hen snaps out of it soon. Thanks again.
If you search forum archives on introducing chicks to a broody hen, you will find lots and lots of info. The idea is that the hen will snap out of being broody when she adopts the chicks. A broody hen not sitting on fertile eggs could stay broody too long since the eggs won't ever hatch. She won't necessarily end her broodiness just because 21 days are up. There are forums on how to break a broody hen as well.
Thanks, I will definitely do that. And I neglected to say before, I was sorry to hear you had an unsuccessful attempt with your chicks.
If she is definitely showing interest in the chicks, and making broody noises "in their general direction" it might be worth a try. It would greatly decrease your work of integrating the chicks into the flock. She may consider the chicks to be interlopers to her nest sanctuary, or she may welcome them with open wings. They may be too old and way past the imprinting age, therefore not able to accept her. But, depending on her behavior when confronted by a couple of chicks (perhaps you could put them in a wire cage CLOSE to her nest and observe her and their behavior. Let them get a bit chilled (if that's even possible in this summer heat) so they will give some stress calls and be more likely to welcome her warmth. You don't say if she is currently sitting on eggs. (either live or duds) If so, that might make a huge difference in her response.
The chicks have only been in the barn for a couple days and this is the first time I have seen the broody hen leave her nest. She isn't sitting on any eggs currently. We had a raccoon attack about a month ago and I lost quite a few chickens. The other hens haven't been laying much I'm guessing because of the stress. This is only the second set of chicks I have had and I am reading the material Sue suggested. I could try just one chick near her and see what happens. I'm a bit of a mother hen too and I worry a lot (especially after the attack, but we have the barn better fortified now and live traps out).
I have a bantam who loves being a mother and happily adopted standard Orpington chicks. We added 3 more at 3 weeks (we went back to the breeder as all our blues sprouted wattles), 2 blues and an unusually coloured chick my daughter fell in love with. Our Pixie didn't even notice the 2 new blues but (after awhile) noticed the differently coloured one. After the odd peck (nothing serious) she accepted that chick too. One of the blue chicks very quickly started reacting to Pixie's noises and snuggling up to her despite never having had a mother. If your girl is desperate to be a mother and has left her nest in favour of being with the chicks I think you should try putting them together. Give her some treat food and see if she clucks madly to them to call them over. I'd put her with all at once as some may be willing and curious enough to react to her whereas one will worry/panic about getting back to its brothers and sisters and ignore your broody. I'd keep her separated from the other hens until her and the babies have formed a relationship. It's lovely seeing the interactions between a broody and her babies.
I did try one chick with her. The chick pecked at the hen, but the hen didn't peck back, just tried to follow the scared chick around. When I go in and check on everyone the hen is sitting next to the chicks'coop. When I get close, the hen circles the coop, clucking away. I should have mentioned before, there are 24 chicks and I am not sure, could she handle that? But I will try a treat and see how the hen reacts.
To me it sounds like she is trying to mother the chicks. If I could be so lucky! My broody tried to kill the baby chicks, she grabbed one by the neck and threw it. I had to raise them myself, and she still hates them. She suspects they are going to replace her and I'm tempted to do just that.
Is there anyone out there who can answer the question about a hen handling 24 chicks?

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