Thank you for the input! She is a middle of the pack rank. Surprisingly enough, my Easter Egger who is half her size runs the coop! I think I will separate her for the safety of the chicks. She does tend to bow down to my Easter Egger, so it may be best!I'd let her sit on her eggs separated from the other hens as they could lay unwanted eggs in her nest while she's out or even break them. If your broody hen is at the top or near the top of the pecking order you could put mama and her chicks back out whenever you want she should defend them well once hatched but that is only the cas for top hens lower hens may be submissive to others and may not defend them as well in that cas separate them longer until the chicks have some size to run away. Broody hens like dark quiet areas so if you end up separating her she'd appreciate that. Buff orphingtons tend to be great mothers so I wouldn't worry too much.
Wow ....Really not as complicated as that....Pretty simple actually .....There are many approaches as to how to handle a broody hen. I'm on my third broody this year. The first one decided to sit in an out of the way corner of the coop where she and a couple of others had been laying their eggs. I just left her, marked the eggs I wanted her to hatch, and for the first few days removed extra "donations". Eventually, the extras quit showing up. I think the broody chased them off. I let her hatch right in the coop with the flock. I am learning that that seems to be the best way to integrate broody and chicks. This broody is somewhere near the top of the pecking order. Broody #2 also sat right in the coop, in a nesting box used by one other hen. I removed the extra daily throughout most of the incubation period. #2 is a little lower ranking in the pecking order, so about 24 hours before her eggs were due to hatch, I closed off where she was setting from the rest of the coop, and kept her and her babies separate for about 4 days.
Broody #1 kept her babies to herself and in the coop for the first 24 hours after hatching, then brought them out to the run, and was out free ranging with the flock by the time they were 3 days old. Broody #2 took her babies out free ranging the day after I opened the door that was separating them.
There are pros and cons to hatching within the flock. I think they benefit by being able to interact with the flock while incubating (they do get up once a day to eat, drink, dust bathe and poop). The hen is less likely to lose her place in the pecking order. By letting her be with the flock right after the babies are hatched, she is super-protective (even broody #2 - the other hens learned immediately to avoid her space!) and will protect the babies while they are learning chicken manners. A good rooster will also step in and chase off any hen harassing mama and babies. I've seen this happen in my own flock.
Cons would be the chance of broken eggs, and eggs added by other hens. The additional eggs are easily managed. You mark the eggs you want hatched, then check your broody once a day and remove any extras from the nest. I draw a circle around mine with a Sharpie so I can see the marking at all times.
The benefits of separation are, of course, the eggs should be safer.
Cons would be keeping them separate for too long, and mama not being protective when integration happens. The babies are kind of on their own usually between 4-6 weeks.
You are the only one who can decide what to do, but if you can, I'd encourage letting her hatch within the flock if you can get her in an out of the way place in the coop to set.
I agree - it's quite simple for those who are able to do it that way. Hen sets within the flock, hen hatches, integrates and weans chicks. Hen goes on with her life and chicks are an accepted member of the flock. How much more simple could it get?Wow ....Really not as complicated as that....Pretty simple actually .....
I agree - it's quite simple for those who are able to do it that way. Hen sets within the flock, hen hatches, integrates and weans chicks. Hen goes on with her life and chicks are an accepted member of the flock. How much more simple could it get?
But not everyone is comfortable doing it that way, or their coop is too small to for the broody to have her nest without someone else getting in there, or it doesn't work for some other reason. And that's fine, too. All our situations are different, and we need to raise our chickens as we see fit. Like I said at the beginning of my last post - there are many ways to manage a broody. We all have to do what works best for our flocks.