Can a broody hen take care of her chicks alone or will she need help?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by NHCrazy4Chicks, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. NHCrazy4Chicks

    NHCrazy4Chicks Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 20, 2010
    Southern NH
    Hello! I'm a newbie who's not getting my started pullets until April, but I've been thinking about what to do when I want to increase my flock. I'll have plenty of room for about 12-15 chickens and I'm only starting out with 6. If I were to get one rooster and one of my hens went broody, would she be able to take care of the chicks (incubating and hatching) on her own or would I need to help? The reason I'm starting with pullets rather than chicks is that I know I don't have the time to dedicate to them. I'm not home enough to properly care for baby chicks. But, if momma hen can do it on her own, I may very well be able to have little ones running around next summer!

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    Thank you! [​IMG]
  2. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Momma will do a great job without any overt help from you. There are a few things you can do to give her a better shot though. I seperate my lower ranking broody hens from the flock so the other hens don't lay in her nest and/or pick on the little ones. My queen hen gets to brood wherever she wants 'cause she'll kick anyones butt that dares to mess with her nest or chicks. If you have the room and can make a little broody pen in or next to the main coop that would be ideal--all the other chooks still see momma and the little ones so you don't have an integration problems later.

    I let mine back with the main flock a week or so after the chicks hatch. By then momma and babies are bonded and the little ones aren't as likely to get seperated. You won't need to provide any extra heat or anything, but you will need to think about food. The little ones shouldn't have layer food and it can be hard to keep everything seperate. What I (and lots of others) do is feed my entire mixed age/species flock gamebird feed and put oyster shell out freechoice so the layers can meet their calcium needs. You can also use flockraiser or unmedicated grower the same way, just depends on what is available and cost effective in your area. I use the crumble version of the gamebird when there are chicks on the ground and then switch back to pellets (less waste imo) when the chicks are old enough to eat them.

    ETA: What breed(s) of chickens are you planning on getting? Some breeds are much more likely then others to go broody so it's something you'll want to think about if you haven't already.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  3. NHCrazy4Chicks

    NHCrazy4Chicks Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 20, 2010
    Southern NH
    Great! Thanks for the advice. And good question. I'm getting Rhode Island Reds and Silver Laced Wyandottes. From what I read, I was thinking the Wyandottes could potentially go broody and be pretty decent mothers. I'll keep my fingers crossed! I guess the next question is whether it's ok for me to have a completely different breed of rooster. And what if I got a bantam roo? Could he still mate with the standard hens? I have to do more research on mating, etc., but since it's so easy to get roosters, I figured maybe I would get a really beautiful one that might be a different breed. I love the learning! And I keep looking at pics of baby chicks and just want to have a few around! [​IMG]

    Thanks again!
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Best to stay with the same size rooster as the hens. Banties will try to mate with large hens but often don't get the job done, only think they have, because they can't reach.

    I let my broodies hatch and raise chicks, 3 or 4 clutches so far. I now seem to have a broody who attacks chicks and kills them, though, or pecks her eggs til the chick is killed. It's quite unpredictable whether you will get a broody at all and whether she will be a good mama. Some breeds are more likely, granted, but in the end it's an individual thing. I had some SLW but they were so mean they were not allowed to mature to the broody stage. Haven't had a RIR in years.

    There are a few breeds that almost always go broody, silkies and kraienkoppes among them My kraienkoppe mamas were all excellent mothers. I think OEGB also are very broody; there are probably others. My attack broody is a BA.
  5. andalusn

    andalusn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    Ridgefield, WA
    I purchased one mature hen from a local guy who sold eggs and I imagine he rotates the hens out when they get to a particular age.. that hen went broody in Feb of this year. hatched 3 chicks. Set again in March but nothing hatched and this past Sat she brought 16 peeps out from hiding. Her favorite place is a spot in my hay stack that I can't find [​IMG] The other hen was a young Cochin hen. She was from spring 09 and she also went broody in Feb of this year and did not quit. 3 hatches. I am hoping she takes the winter off...

    I should add that I have let the hens to all the raising..
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  6. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    most hens are good moms I agree if she is low in the pecking order you may want to separate her just to give her peace from the others.
  7. serendipityfarm

    serendipityfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2010
    My bantam cochin roo has no problem fertilizing a couple of my big girls at least. When they are really big or have excessively fluffy butts, then he has trouble, but my Buff Orp, and one of my STD Cochins actually squat and seem to HELP. Instinct I guess.
    I would think a larger size bantam roo should be able to do the job, but probably wouldn't count on the smaller breeds.

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