New Broody Hen

Chickidoodle

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 30, 2013
1
0
7
HELP! Had egg layers for over a year and one week ago my barred rock hen started sitting in her nesting box. We've not disturberd her to check how many eggs or anything yet as this is the FIRST hen we have ever had that sat! IF we have chicks hatch in another 14 days +/- how will they get from the nesting box mounted about three feet from the coop floor? Or should I try to move her and the eggs now, or after they hatch? Also will they be safe when they hatch with the other two hens and the rooster or will I have to move the hen and chicks to a seperate area? We are so excited to have a broody hen and just don't want to blow this.
Chickidoodle
 

alogue5173

Chirping
7 Years
Sep 11, 2012
146
5
81
Harrison, Georgia
I had a hen go broody last year in the general population with my other hens and one rooster. When the chicks hatched they got down out of the nesting box (it was about 3.5-4 ft. high) just fine. We waited til nighttime and moved mama hen and her babies to another pen. Sometimes if you try to move them while they are sitting they will lose interest. I have a broody bantam sitting right now and I have thrown her off the nest dozens of times and she isn't discouraged and will go right back to trying to set....so it just depends on the hen.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,099
19,557
857
Southeast Louisiana
First there is no right way or wrong way to do any of these. A whole lot of different things work. There are benefits and risks with any way you do it.

Hens have been hatching eggs and raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years. That’s the way I do it. If you elect to go this route, I suggest you check under her and see how many eggs she has, then mark them so you know which ones belong. Then, once a day toward the end of the day check under her and remove any new ones. As long as you remove them daily, they are good to use. Some broodies can be pretty vicious about protecting their eggs. If you have one of those you might want to wear gloves and long sleeves when you check under her.

Sometimes other hens will lay with a broody. Believe it or not, it is also possible for a broody to go to another nest and move an egg to her nest. If she gets too many eggs so that she can’t cover them all, some will cool off and die. So you need to keep the total number of eggs low enough so she can cover them. The other reason to remove them is that any eggs added late are probably not going to hatch. When the first ones that hatch get hungry and thirsty the broody will almost certainly abandon any eggs still in the nest to take care of the ones that have hatched. It’s upsetting to have partially developed chicks die in the egg.

I’ve seen a broody get chicks out of a 10’ high hay loft. She says jump and they do, then run to her when they hit the ground. Don’t get too worried about a 3’ high nest box. They’ll manage. When she brings them off the nest, they will find some other place to spend the night, usually a corner of the coop floor.

Not all broody hens are the same, not all roosters are the same, and not all other hens are the same. I’ve never seen a broody that couldn’t or wouldn’t protect her chicks from a threatening chicken. Mine are so dedicated, mean, and nasty about that the other chicken doesn’t stand a chance. I’ve never had a mature dominant rooster threaten a broody’s chicks in any way. I’ve seen some help the broody with her chicks. Occasionally another hen may try to harm a chick, especially if it wanders a little away from Mama’s protection, but I’ve never seen one be successful trying that. Mama is pretty darn protective. As I said, not all are the same. I’m sure somewhere in the world there are broodies that won’t protect their chicks, a rooster that will harm the chicks, and hens that are successful in hurting or killing a chick even with a broody present. I’ve just never seen it myself.

There is nothing wrong with isolating a broody while she is incubating or raising the chicks. If you elect to isolate her while she is incubating and hatching, create a predator-secure place where you can lock her in and not let any other hens go in to visit her. You’ll need a nest, food, water, and enough room for her to come off the nest and go poop. It’s probably best if the nest is a little dark or at least not in bright light. Broodies like to think their nest is hidden. Your biggest risk in moving her is that she will break from being broody. Move her at night after it is really dark with as little light and commotion as possible. That seems to help.

If you elect to raise them separate from the flock, make sure the area is predator-proof obviously but also make sure the chicks can’t get through the fence away from Mama’s protection. There have been a few posts on here where the chicks got away from Mama’s protection where the rest of the flock could get to them and they wound up dead.

If you isolate then to raise, think about how you will ultimately integrate them back with your main flock. If Mama raises them with the flock she will take care of integration, though they will still have to sort out their place in the pecking order themselves. For both integration and the pecking order stuff the more room you have the better these are likely to go.

That’s enough typing for now. I’ll repeat though. There is no right way or wrong way to do this. There are risks and benefits both ways. We do these all kinds of different ways, usually quite successfully.
Good luck!
 

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