Newby question...Broody Mama


Jun 21, 2015
We have never had a broody hen until now.I have a hen on the nest and she is about 4-5 days away from hatching. Her nest has been on the top of the nesting boxes where she originally started sitting and I did not move her. She seems happy up there. Question...when the babies hatch they will not be able to get up and down from there. When should I move her? Before or after all the chicks hatch? Will the other hens mess with her at ground level if I build her a little nest in a box ? Will she adapt to the move?

You may want to make sure there is enough bedding on the ground underneath her chosen nest site so the chicks "bounce" when mama eventually leads them off it.
Once all viable eggs hatch and the chicks have dried, I usually put chicks and momma on the ground, provide food and water, then let her do her thing. Other flock members are likely to ignore the chicks (or risk being dealt with by momma).

I don’t know how high that nest is but I’ve seen a broody hen get chicks out of a ten feet high hay loft. Mama flew down, said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. Personally I would not worry about her getting the chicks safely down. Once she gets them down they do not go back up. My broody hens normally take the chicks to a corner of the coop to spend the night on the coop floor. If you put a nest on the coop floor for her she might use it or she might not. Another hen may decide that would make a good nest. I don’t know what will happen if you provide a nest, but probably nothing all that bad.

I also leave it up to Mama to decide when to bring the chicks off. After the chicks internal pip they start talking to Mama so the hen knows not all the eggs have hatched. She’ll wait on the late ones as long as you started all the eggs at the same time. I’ve had broody hens bring the chicks off within 24 hours of the first one hatching, I’ve had some wait over three full days. I don’t speak baby chick but the broody hen does. She knows when the hatch is over, I don’t.

I interfere with the broody hen as little as possible when she is hatching. I’ve killed a chick before messing with a broody hen. I find I do a lot less harm if I leave her alone and let her do her thing.

I don’t know what your facilities look like, how big an area you have in the coop or outside. I don’t know how you manage your chickens. I don’t know how hard it will be for the broody hen to get the chicks in or out of the coop. The only thing I do is to provide food and water in the coop at a level the chicks can get to it when Mama brings them off the nest. I don’t know what your feeders or waterers look like, I just lower my feeder to ground level. For baby chicks I use a fairly shallow dog bowl and fill it with rocks so the chicks won’t drown when they try to walk on water. The other chickens scratch a lot and fill these with bedding and trash, so I put down a piece of old carpet or some plywood on top of the bedding to help keep the trash out. You still have to clean off that carper or plywood regularly plus change water daily. Clean water is extremely important for baby chicks. It is for your adults too.

You are dealing with living animals. You cannot predict what they will do. I’ve never had a broody hen fail to protect her chicks from other flock members. Most of my adult flock members may be a bit curious about the chicks when they first hatch but pretty much ignore them after that. Others on this forum have lost chicks to other adult flock members. With living animals you just don’t get guarantees on behaviors.

For their own reasons many people on this forum handle every stage of the incubation and chick raising differently than I do. I’m not trying to criticize them, we all do things differently. You have to find methods that you are comfortable with. I’m quite happy with my set-up and experience to let my broody hens raise chicks with the flock like broody hens have been successfully doing for thousands of years. I do think having lots of room in the coop and outside helps me a lot. I’ve never lost a chick to another adult flock member but what works for me may not work as well for you. It’s part of us all being unique.

Good luck!

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