Broody hens taking turns?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TheMainException, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. TheMainException

    TheMainException Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2010
    Lebanon, PA
    I have three broody hens. Two are silkies and one is a silkie, bantam-of-some-sort cross. If one gets up to get a drink and some food, another runs over and sits on the eggs. At night, whoever is sitting on the eggs goes into the coop and goes to bed. Another broody will take over and in the morning, they will switch again. Is this normal? Chickens have a flock mentality, I know, but this seems a bit excessive. Last year, I had two sisters brooding together, but on separate clutches. Has anyone else experienced this?

    I love that they take turns, even if it may just be for a selfish, broody reason. lol.
  2. kingsfarm

    kingsfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2011
    Main, I hear you well, 3 hens sat on this last hen sat 15 days, got off to eat one day and a RIR took the nest (little black hen came back and wasn't allowed - she looked to the nest on the side of her and proceeded to sit on THAT bunch of eggs) now THOSE were my fresh eggs to be picked that evening....well she sat and sat got off to eat and hens kept laying eggs in same nest , now she is sitting on 26 eggs...RIR got off and little brown OEG hen took the same nest (thats 3rd hen) she is the mama of the 5 chicks that hatched....last hen won the prize..Ha...Little black hens hatch will begin Wednesday and I have NO idea how many chicks there will be but am prepared to incubate eggs that don't hatch before she takes the chicks out....wish me luck, I am new to this NATURAL broody thing and love it...never a dull moment...
  3. thegreypony

    thegreypony Chillin' With My Peeps

    LOL - I have a teensie bantam that will do this! Good thing, too, as the first time one of my BO went broody we tried to break her for a month - ice in the boxes and everything, nothing worked. So we finally broke down and got her some eggs. She was so happy but I'm guessing b/c she had already invested so much time in "nothing" she just couldn't hold out & hopped off the nest with about 6 days to go. 12 standard eggs and teensie Lacey hopped on that nest, hatched 9 eggs & raised those babies until they were bigger than her (at which point we gave them to a 4-H friend).

    Now whenever we have a BO go broody, we get eggs, give Lacey 3 to set, both nests hatch at the same time and then Lacey & the BO momma co-parent the entire brood!!! LOVE watching my little village work! :)
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I have heard of tag team brooding from hens before this. I love this idea..... Not too much stress on any one hen. Chickens are soooo amazing.
  5. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010

    Next time mark the original eggs and pull the ones that aren't marked after that. Chickens are so entertaining!
  6. GlacierHen

    GlacierHen Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 19, 2011
    Our broody hens are so dumb that when they come back after eating, dustbathing etc., and there is another hen on their eggs they will go sit in another box and not get back on their eggs when the other hen is done laying her egg. The eggs just sit there and get cold. I have to constantly make sure our broody hens are on the proper nest box or isolate them. I wish they would take turns. It would make life easier for me.
  7. TheMainException

    TheMainException Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2010
    Lebanon, PA
    Kingsfarm: I hatched chicks the first time with broody girls. I went away on vacation and told my neighbor not to bother with the eggs since the girls were broody. I got back and they were sitting on 26 eggs. I ended up having about 8 hatch, but only 5 lived. Rough start, but I have no clue how many were fertile since the boys were so young. That was the time that two sisters brooded side by side. I think using an incubator is almost too stressful. I'd rather have the hens stress out over the eggs! lol

    greypony: Bantams can be such good broody hens. I've only recently gotten a few standard size hens and none of them care to brood. So many of my various bantam breeds though, are all over those eggs in a trance.

    Galanie: That's what I did. Otherwise, I'd have chicks hatching at all different dates and no eggs to eat!

    Glacierhen: That sucks. I made a separate run for my broody hens with eggs last year. It worked really. The other girls could look at the chicks, but not hurt them, so they were safe, but they also got a chance to get to know each other. Plus, the girls stayed where they belonged, on the correct eggs.
  8. puglady

    puglady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2012
    I have the same thing happening now. The clutch started out with a Black Aust on them. When I checked in a couple of nights ago a RIR was sitting on them. A little while later the Black was back on her clutch. Now this morning when I checked there's a Barred Rock sitting on them, lol. I'm starting to think they're co parenting. When the Black gets up for potty/food/water it seems one of the others jump in take over. The eggs have a couple of more weeks so we'll see how well this goes!
  9. so lucky

    so lucky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2011
    SE Missouri
    "It takes a village......"
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Based on experience involving multiple hen brooded chicks, it is recommended that only one hen be allowed to incubate eggs and rear chicks. Otherwise some chicks will likely either be lost or otherwise experience a lesser quality of life while brooded by two or more hens that will be conflicting with each other.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by