1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Complete beginner with broody hens and replenishment of flock

Discussion in 'Hatch-A-Longs' started by pjmarkavage, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. pjmarkavage

    pjmarkavage In the Brooder

    Aug 14, 2016
    Hello, I have 5 Rhode Island Reds; one is very broody, but not excessively so. She wants to sit on the eggs all morning, but soon follows the other chickens in the afternoon and spends the rest of the day with them.

    We want to introduce 3-4 more chickens into the flock (hopefully all hens.) The reason is because our run and our hen house were not secure and we lost 3 to a predator. Since then, we've made the run fencing tighter, put out blinking Christmas lights, and put out a radio that emits a mixture of music and voices and we've not had any problems since (yet, it's been a couple of months.)

    I've read we could raise chickens like we did the original set and slowly and carefully introduce them to the flock knowing they will need to reassimilate the pecking order.

    I've read we could take 1 day old chicks and put them under the brooding hen when they are not looking and **sometimes** they adopt. Sometimes they don't.

    I've read we could take fertilized eggs and put them under the mother and they hatch and again, she most likely would adopt those chicks as her own.

    I've also read that the broody hen has to be separated from the rest of the flock for a while, which is sort of a problem as we have a hen house with nesting boxes in them (which they don't really use in spite of numerous golf balls). The broody hen has made her own place near the human entrance to brood over her eggs (which aren't all hers, they apparently belong to the other chicks.) So, I'm not sure how I would separate her without just building another house for her unless we cordon her off from the rest of the chickens inside the hen house which I don't think is going to work that great. Maybe I could take chicken wire down the entrance and give her a run that way? I think we could figure something out.

    Anyways, bottom line. I'd like to replenish the flock without getting a rooster (and I know we might get roosters in the method above which we will have to give away). What are anyone's thoughts?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016

  2. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

    Mar 3, 2011
    The Land of Enchantment
    Hi PJ, All of those methods could work, and they all have their pros and cons.

    You could pick up pullet chicks in the spring, and possibly get a cockerel since sexing methods are not 100% accurate. Or you could buy sex-links and like you said, raise your new set. Integration isn't particularly hard, just needs to be done slowly.

    I haven't had any luck introducing day-olds to a broody, but some people do. Especially with a broody that has had, and adopted several clutches before. Just remember, not all chickens are good mothers- I found that out the hard way.

    The RIR you mentioned isn't really broody - or not broody enough to hatch eggs if she's staying off the nest half the day. Broody hens often hiss and peck at you and refuse to get off the nest except for once a day. Those are clues that she may stick with it for the full 3 weeks required. Some do, some don't and you'd need to have a plan for back-up if she quits part way through. And yes, it's best to separate her to prevent other hens from laying new eggs there or taking over the nest. Statistically half that hatch will be boys and you need to have a plan for that, too. Around here it's really hard to even give away the extra boys, so they end up in my freezer.

    Last thought, don't rely too heavily on the blinking lights and radio. They might deter some predators, but not all of them.
  3. pjmarkavage

    pjmarkavage In the Brooder

    Aug 14, 2016
    Thank you for that info, FridayYet.

    What do you do for predators?

    Anyways, I'll have to investigate the one RIR some more, my son knows the habits better than I do. I just know in the morning she is laying over them. She's submit to me though and let me take her eggs, but I don't because I feel bad doing so. I wait usually till the night when she is perched with the rest of the chickens, then I take the eggs.

    However, it seems the other hens all lay their eggs right there and she sits on them in the morning. I haven't actually tried to steal one, so who knows if she'll peck at me. She usually looks and me and I get the feeling she's asking me 'Why the heck are you in here?"

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by