Broody hens worth any trouble you might have

Kat C

Songster
Feb 25, 2018
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Alabama
The joy of watching a mother hen raise her chicks out weighs any problems. In fact I expect that while the problems are different, the problems with incubators is probably just as great as with broody hens. I do a few things different than the woman who writes this blog but it is a very good and comprehensive discussion of using broody hens to hatch your chicks. Last year we got mail order chicks for the first time. We let one of our more reliable mothers set on a few eggs, changing them out every day. She had been setting for about 2 1/2 weeks when the chicks arrived and to our delight she thought they were hers and saved us a pile of work! Gives the chicks a good start. How much more beneficial to have a mother warm her chicks and provide them with a sense of safety and security than to raise them under a lamp.
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/08/caring-for-broody-hens-facilitating-egg/
I think watching a good momma hen is one of the 7 wonders of the world
 

Farmer Connie

Gallus gallus domesticus
Feb 28, 2017
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My Coop
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Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
Premium Feather Member
Jan 4, 2017
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Braxton County, WV
Agreed! I've had three broodies, but I only allowed two to hatch. The third was MEAN, tried taking chunks out of my hand, and wasn't a steady setter.

My best mama is a Buff Orp who went broody when she was 7 months. She mothered her chicks (Black Cochin/Dominique BSLs) until they were 15 weeks. If you look closely, you can see all 10 chicks she hatched in this picture.

Mama warming 7w babies.jpg
 

Kat C

Songster
Feb 25, 2018
269
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126
Alabama
Readhead Rae, oh that is a lovely picture. Glad you have mutts....we love our mutts, so healthy and fun. We also have setting hens that we won't let set anymore due to aggressiveness or sometimes just really poor mothering skills. Setting for 21 days with the right heat doesn't mean then hen knows how to mother. We have had some that would never "cluck" the food. A chick without a momma will eat what you offer, but with a momma if momma doesn't cluck the OK they won't eat. We had one that would only cluck live food even though she ate non-live food fine. Usually that gets resolved in a few days (which the chicks can handle) but it is unnerving to us so that momma never gets another chance. This one did fine by the chicks but not by us! We also had a Buff Orpington that was a grand brood momma.
vera angry.JPG
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
Premium Feather Member
Jan 4, 2017
8,524
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992
Braxton County, WV
Readhead Rae, oh that is a lovely picture. Glad you have mutts....we love our mutts, so healthy and fun. We also have setting hens that we won't let set anymore due to aggressiveness or sometimes just really poor mothering skills. Setting for 21 days with the right heat doesn't mean then hen knows how to mother. We have had some that would never "cluck" the food. A chick without a momma will eat what you offer, but with a momma if momma doesn't cluck the OK they won't eat. We had one that would only cluck live food even though she ate non-live food fine. Usually that gets resolved in a few days (which the chicks can handle) but it is unnerving to us so that momma never gets another chance. This one did fine by the chicks but not by us! We also had a Buff Orpington that was a grand brood momma. View attachment 1286905
I have some that I want to keep pure bred, but I'm going to be breeding some mutts for MAXIMUM broodiness. I got 18 LF Cochin chicks three weeks ago and 3 Chocolate English Orp hens last week to help in this. One of the CO hens is showing signs of broodiness, but I think the change of scenery upset her hormones. But I have 2 dozen eggs from them that the previous owner gave me that were fertilized by Banty Cochins to hatch which I hope will help in my quest for broody birds.
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
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Best thing about raising chickens, IMO. I dread this coming year. I have too many chickens and don't want to cull, so I'm going to have to keep them from hatching. I will really miss that. Had 8 last year - 6 females, 2 males.
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
2,720
5,762
392
Here are two of mine. Had 5 separate hatches last year. The best part is when two mamas raise their young together, They may roam with and sleep under the dominant hen, but they never forget their mother's voice (until they're weaned, of course).

2017-06-21_110248.jpg
 
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Kat C

Songster
Feb 25, 2018
269
456
126
Alabama
I have some that I want to keep pure bred, but I'm going to be breeding some mutts for MAXIMUM broodiness. I got 18 LF Cochin chicks three weeks ago and 3 Chocolate English Orp hens last week to help in this. One of the CO hens is showing signs of broodiness, but I think the change of scenery upset her hormones. But I have 2 dozen eggs from them that the previous owner gave me that were fertilized by Banty Cochins to hatch which I hope will help in my quest for broody birds.
Sounds like a plan. We found that even crossing breeds not known for broodiness increased the likelihood of it. It is a basic species survival trait so it keeps popping back up :) I think Bantys are good mothers because they were not bred for egg production so selecting for non-broodiness wasn't done. Game breeds are also like that. However when we let a full game hen have a brood, she killed any other mother's chick that came near. But her daughters from crosses to standard breeds have done well.
 

Kat C

Songster
Feb 25, 2018
269
456
126
Alabama
Best thing about raising chickens, IMO. I dread this coming year. I have too many chickens and don't want to cull, so I'm going to have to keep them from hatching. I will really miss that. Had 8 last year - 6 females, 2 males.
Yes, if you can't cull you can't keep breeding. Usually you can find a home for extra hens, but roos of course is harder. We don't particularly like axing our roos, but we do like the good meat. It gets easier over time. If you have any neighbors from south of the border they often are eager for home grown chicken (wisely finding the commercial chicken to be inferior). I have found advertising in the feed store often helps me find people who want some decent chicken meat.
 

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