How to deal with a nesting hen


10 Years
Jun 7, 2009
Sorry for all the questions! I'm new at this, and this forum is just WAY too helpful.

Okay, I have a hen sitting on duck eggs. Every so often, she takes a quick break and RUNS waaay out to the other end of the yard, pecks around, comes back, gets a bite to eat and a drink, then goes back in to sit. Makes me smile -- sometimes I need a break, too! Anyway, sometimes while she's out stretching her legs, another hen goes in and sits and lays an egg. Then when Broody comes back, the other hen's still there, and she has to wait, which she does. Nevermind the other two nesting sites, one of which is *identical* to the one Broody set up house in -- they want the same one.

So we watch, and when we see Broody out, we take all of the extra eggs out of her nest. I figure as long as we do this at least once a day, they should still be usable. (We have no roosters, so they're not going to hatch, ever.)

BUT, should we really have things set up so the other hens can't get in to Broody's nest? If she keeps seeing them in there, will she give up and quit sitting? I was planning on fencing off an area for her when we get close to the hatch date (July 4th), but I'd like to let her have the run of the yard as long as possible.
Most people here recommend isolating a broody with her nest and food and water, to prevent this sort of uproar and keep the others from bothering her. Last year before I found BYC, I just marked the eggs meant to be hatched and picked up the others several times a day. There was a main broody but sometimes another would take over; I would just put the main one back and remove whoever else was there. I wound up with one chick from 3 or 4 eggs.

This year I have my broody (there is only one now) in a dog crate inside her coop. I let her out in the morning and she does her thing around the yard for a little while then returns to her nest. There is food and water in the crate but she does not seem to be eating and drinking these. Later in the day, when the others are through laying, I open the crate up again, though I've never seen her leave the nest except first thing in the morning. I guess I do that so I won't feel guilty about imprisoning her! She will eat from my hand in the afternoon, though. I close her up at night when I close the coop so an early morning layer won't disturb her.

Probably you are more likely to get more chicks if she is isolated -- if she will accept it, of course. Just have to do what works for your situation. Broodies usually do not get off the nest more than once a day.
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Oh, and since these are duck eggs, am I supposed to be misting them? I read that they need higher humidity, but then I read that that only matters if you're using an incubator, so . . ?
I understand that's only for incubators -- but I never owned a duck or an incubator, that's just from reading here.

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