Broody Hen - Hatching Advice

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by jlynn1515, May 31, 2017.

  1. jlynn1515

    jlynn1515 Out Of The Brooder

    43
    11
    34
    Jun 4, 2016
    Oregon, USA
    Hello!

    I have a broody hen sitting on her first clutch of eggs. I am looking for any information you think would be helpful for me. Set up, access by other hens, once chicks hatch, any and all of it!

    Thanks in advance!
    Jessie
     
  2. Top Rooster

    Top Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    739
    1,314
    221
    Aug 16, 2015
    North East Oklahoma
    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.
     
  3. jlynn1515

    jlynn1515 Out Of The Brooder

    43
    11
    34
    Jun 4, 2016
    Oregon, USA
    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!
     
  4. Top Rooster

    Top Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

    739
    1,314
    221
    Aug 16, 2015
    North East Oklahoma
    Yeah better be safe than sorry
     
    jlynn1515 likes this.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Her rank raises once put back with the Chicks...Separate during setting till Chicks are about 2 to 3 weeks and put back into flock..Momma Hen will kick butt and the Chicks will be safe and welcomed....:frow
     
    kbayness likes this.
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,983
    4,317
    461
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    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.

    I forgot to mention Broody #3. She's also right in the coop with the flock, in the 8-hole nesting box. She's been on her eggs since Saturday - so far no donations to her clutch of 6 eggs. I think she'll also be a feisty, protective mama so I'm not concerned about her ability to protect her babies when they hatch. (Both broodies 2 and 3 are Dark Cornish. #1 is a big, grey fluffy EE)

    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.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Wow ....Really not as complicated as that....Pretty simple actually .....
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,983
    4,317
    461
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    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.
     
    chickens really likes this.
  9. laney7

    laney7 Out Of The Brooder

    17
    2
    24
    May 16, 2017
    Southwest PA

    This is my first time with letting my broody hens hatch and raise. I have two out of 10 eggs hatched and momma is covering them, but will she take them out of the box and teach them to eat and drink? I don't know how long to let her sit on the nest before stepping in to help the hatched ones.
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,983
    4,317
    461
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    She will take the babies out when it's time. The chicks are fine for about 72 hours after hatching without food or water. With the basically perfect conditions for hatching under a broody, usually everything that's going to hatch will hatch within about 24 hours after the first one starts. I just learned this from RR in another post - When the chicks internally pip, they start peeping and the mama can hear them. She knows to stay on the eggs as long as they are peeping and she knows more are coming. (I just figured they had an internal clock that says, "Ding! Eggs are done, get off the nest now.")

    Sometimes chicks will die in the shell, either before or after that internal pip. I don't know why. I have had two broodies hatch so far this year. Out of 7 eggs that were viable at hatching time for Broody #1, five hatched. Of the two that didn't, one had absorbed the yolk, internally pipped, but didn't get any farther. The other never even absorbed the yolk. Broody #2 hatched 4/5. Her non-hatched egg also died before the yolk was absorbed. It was also in a position that I don't believe it could have hatched. It'll be interesting to see how broody #3's clutch of 6 turns out.

    You will have to decide whether or not to assist. I don't, when hatching under a broody. I guess I'm kind of a "survival of the fittest, let nature take its course" kind of person.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by