Broody Hen Hatching Eggs -- How Much Do I Need to Do?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by JenniferK, May 22, 2010.

  1. JenniferK

    JenniferK Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    2
    141
    May 7, 2007
    Northern California
    I'm having my first experience with a broody hen, and since we have no roosters I took pity on her and bought a dozen fertile eggs to put under her so she could at least have the satisfaction of hatching something. She seems to be doing a great job of sitting on them, although if I had been smart I would have marked the eggs since she seems to have taken advantage of the other hens laying to give her a break, and I know some of the eggs under her now are NOT fertile, but I'm too scared to guess which ones and take them out. So my question is, assuming any of the eggs hatch, how much do I need to do? Do I need to separate her and the babies from the other hens? Will they still need a nest? Does it matter that the nesting box is a couple of feet off the ground? Do I need to provide chick starter feed, and if I put it so the other hens can't get to it, will the "mother" not be able to show them to it?

    I feel like there's probably a thread already that addresses this but I couldn't quite find what I was looking for, so if anyone can offer some advice or point me in the right direction for some, I'd sure appreciate it!
     
  2. clarmayfarm

    clarmayfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    123
    0
    109
    Jan 5, 2010
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    She will be fine, you can let her do her job.

    The week before hatch, I put my hens in a large crate on the floor with lots of bedding and straw. I then let her out 2x a day to eat and poop. Transfer her after dark so she is calm.

    this will keep the other hens from disturbing her nest and trying to lay in it while she is eating.

    It also will keep the chicks safe so they don't dive from the nest...

    Good luck!
     
  3. Spring Chook

    Spring Chook Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    2
    111
    Dec 29, 2009
    Topanga
    I have a broody bantam sitting on some fertile eggs too. Initially she was with the other hens but, like your chickens, they kept jumping into her nest and laying. THe fertile eggs are Black COpper Marans so very easy to distinguish (they are dark brown) and I was able to scoop out the infertile eggs. But the final straw was when one of other hens broke one of the fertile eggs; I moved her in the night. she now has private quarters in the same coop. I've just fenced off an area for her so she wont be disturbed. Her nesting box is on the floor. My next task is to make a section of the run chick proof, ie I need to line it with a finer mesh so the chicks dont slip through.

    Ideally Mum and babies really need to be separate for a whlle, the chicks are very vulnerable at the start, and the other hens might attack them. You might have to move her nest lower so the chicks and mum can hop back in. Any rearrangements must be made before day 18.

    Make sure you broody has water and food close by, and if you get a chance, dust her nest for mites. The last time my bantam was broody, I didnt and she ended up with scaly leg mites. not nice.

    CHick starter is generally recommended for the chicks And you'll also need to put some pebbles in the water bowl to stop them drowning.

    I'm sure others will give you more useful advice
     
  4. L0rraine

    L0rraine Chillin' With My Peeps

    810
    4
    133
    May 20, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    Yep, as clarmayfarm implies, the other hens disturbing her (or laying more eggs for her to incubate) seems to be the biggest problem. I too have moved mine the week before hatch. Once to a nest on the coop floor with a protective pen around her, once to my study in a large barricaded area, and the last time to another pen with no other hens. The last time didn't work well and the broody seemed desperate to get back with the rest of the flock and abandoned her eggs.
     
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
    139
    281
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    It's really ideal to have the hen separated from the flock while she's setting. Either move her (well after dark) to her own pen, with room to get up & poop and walk over to her food/water, or make a barricade so the other hens can't get to her, and again provide food/water in separate dishes for her. Otherwise the other hens will continue to interrupt her and lay their eggs in her nest, or she may get confused on her way back from a coffee break and go to set in a different nest, letting her developing eggs get cold.

    If there's no other option but for her to stay with the flock then you must mark all the eggs under her -- draw a pencil line completely around the egg so it's easy to see -- and remove all new eggs daily. Your hen already has over a dozen eggs under her, any more and she may not be able to provide sufficient heat for development.

    It's also ideal to keep the hen separated during the weeks she's tending her chicks. Some hens are capable of defending their chicks from other adults, some adult birds are more tolerant of other's chicks. But if possible, have a separate place for them, with their own dishes of water & chick starter. The hen will probably want to return to her flock after 4-8 weeks and you'll still need a place for the chicks until they're grown.

    Other than that, you can rely on the hen to incubate the eggs, have the chicks hatch, and tend to the chicks while they're small. There are a few ditzy birds who do crazy things to their chicks, but they're the exception, not the rule. Have fun!
     
  6. JenniferK

    JenniferK Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    2
    141
    May 7, 2007
    Northern California
    Thanks for all the advice. This is clearly a learning experience for me, and I hope it's not too late as it's now day 18, but I will move her tonight to a separate enclosure/nest box on the floor. Fingers crossed!
     
  7. Fuffy

    Fuffy Chillin' With My Peeps

    874
    7
    131
    Sep 3, 2009
    Jersey, GB
    [​IMG]

    Don't know if this helps: This is my broody house. It is attached by means of a very technical bungee cord to the run, which is a ready made rabbit run.
    The whole thing is outside the area where the other hens are, but the broody can see and hear them. When the babies are about 8 weeks old I will make them a run next to the grown ups so they can meet. And eventually they will all go together.

    That really attractive board in the background is the door to shut Mom into her broody house at night (Another technical piece of kit [​IMG] )

    Good luck [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  8. JenniferK

    JenniferK Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    2
    141
    May 7, 2007
    Northern California
    Thanks for the photo -- your set up is actually far more technical than mine:), but at least I got her separated tonight. I couldn't quite wait until dark since my kids were desperate to watch, but the move went far more smoothly than I had expected.

    Here she is before I bugged her (or maybe I was already bugging her):
    [​IMG]

    Here are the eggs -- holy cow! She started with only a dozen. She acted peeved, but didn't peck me when I swiped them all.
    [​IMG]

    Then I scooped her up and plunked her down on them and she didn't even budge. I hope it stays that way -- we should have chicks by Weds!
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Spring Chook

    Spring Chook Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    2
    111
    Dec 29, 2009
    Topanga
    wow, what beautiful eggs. Glad you managed to move her. let us know how many babies you get!
    Fluffy, great picture and post. you have to be British. am I right?
     
  10. Fuffy

    Fuffy Chillin' With My Peeps

    874
    7
    131
    Sep 3, 2009
    Jersey, GB
    Quote:Well actually I do have a US passport, but I have lived in the UK for the past 50 years!!!! So yes you could say I'm a Brit [​IMG]

    Hope she stays on all those eggies and that LOTS of little fluffy people pop out according to plan!!! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by