first timer--broody hen and chicks


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 30, 2012
I have a broody hen on day 7 sitting on foster eggs. She is in the nesting box our two other hens usually use to lay. The two other hens were climbing on her to lay so we put up a wire mesh to keep them out of the box but that means mamma hen is confined to a very small space--ie milk crate sized. She could stand up and turn around but that's it. She has food and water and is taken out once daily. She doesn't seem to mind it--I've never seen her move on her own accord.
Should we move her at night to a larger space like a pet carrier?
When/if chicks hatch, we are planning on moving them to a pet carrier in the run under the coop. Is that ok? Any particular tips? Should the carrier have a lip to keep chicks in?
Thanks and sorry if these questions have been answered before--I couldn't quite find what I was looking for.
Thank you!
you should mark your fertile eggs
that way when the other chickens lay eggs in the same nest
you can remove them
hens usually share nests for egg laying

i would not keep her confined to such a small place
her leggs will give her problems if she is not allowed to run around
also, where do you think she poops?
Thanks Foul Odor. Before putting in the mesh, the hen never budged from the eggs. She only pooped when we removed her daily and put her on the ground. Our fertilized eggs are labeled, I was just concerned as the other chickens were climbing on her in the nesting box and laying on top of her.
Since she is only at day 7, I don't think she needs to be confined just yet. I agree with the previous posts, and definitely mark the fertile eggs. I'm assuming this hen is a first time broody? She's not going to want to go anywhere---but the other hens are definitely going to want to get in with her & lay some eggs. You don't have to separate them for at least another week, unless of course the other hens are cracking the eggs. Trying to keep them out will frustrate them more & could stress the broody out. She's going to want to stay put until those eggs hatch, and is using all of her energy just sitting and rotating her eggs. Eating, drinking, and even pooping declines a bit-- totally normal. It's gonna get stinky in there.
I have used broody hens several times to hatch, and I don't separate them until day 18. Once you do your final candle, I wait until night time to make my move. I like to take my broody to a separate spot, warm & cozy for her to get ready for the hatch. The dog crate could work just fine as long as it's big enough. Then I watch to see how the hen behaves once the littles start to hatch. Some good broodies make horrible moms, and will be very aggressive to you & even her own chicks.
I would highly recommend you set up an additional brooder just in case. It is always best to be prepared, so youre not running around stressed out when there's all this pipping and zipping going on! There could be chicks that are a little bit more special needs than others, and you can use the additional set up to keep them safe. This has been a crucial step for me & made all the difference.

Good luck with your hatch!
Thanks! That is good advice to have a brooder set up just in case. We ended up leaving the wire mesh up to separate her from the other hens. The broody is definitely at the bottom of the normal pecking order and since she has gone broody that seems to have escalated. The other hens were not only climbing on her to lay, they were pecking her--her head and comb were scabby and bleeding. With the wire mesh all of them seem pretty happy. We take her out to run and around and poop 1-2/day and she goes back in on her own accord. No poop in the nest box yet. The others started laying in the unfavored nest box. We plan to move her to a large dog crate at night in a few days. Fingers crossed! We tried candling the eggs last night using a toilet paper role and small flashlight. We could clearly see a moving orb in the light eggs! The dark eggs were not very revealing. I think we need a stronger light source.
Thanks again!
We are on day 20 and two of seven eggs hatched! Very exciting! Mama hen, so far, seems to be good with the chicks. We haven't intervened at this point. We will watch and see what happens.
Wondering what happened? I am new to this as well and my hen is hatching one egg. I never moved her or did any other maintenance (honestly never thought about it!) and now that her one egg is hatching I am doing research and finding all these things I should have done!! So now, she is still in the little next box with a pipped egg. I have a brooder box big enough for the hen and her chick. When should I move them? And how? Thanks!
We are on day 21 with our broody RIR hen. This morning, there was one little chick peeping out from under her neck!! I am so excited!! The rest should be hatching tomorrow for a total of 9 and I can hardly wait! We are first timers and have raised our little flock of 27 RIRs since March. We moved momma when she was on day 2 of nesting. We have her in a small wire cage in the chicken coop with her own nesting box and food and water close at hand. This will give her and her chicks a safe area to move around in once she is ready to introduce them to the food and water away from the nest. The other chickens can see the newcomers, but can't get to them to peck them. I had planned on letting her take them out to the pasture area when they are about 2 weeks old. Is that too early for her to be with the rest of the flock?


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