Old Fashioned Broody Hen Hatch A Long and Informational Thread

michaelinnc84

Songster
8 Years
Feb 5, 2011
312
57
133
Western North Carolina
In my research for incubators and broody hens I thought it might be nice to have a centralized thread for people who are interested in hatching eggs using the broody hen method. This thread is not meant to put down incubators, as they are a very useful tool, but to share knowledge and experience with each other on how to hatch eggs using a broody hen.

I will attempt to edit this post to include tips and FAQs on some of the best methods and tips to use when hatching eggs using a broody hen. If you have any knowledge please share it. If you know of anything that would be useful to add to the FAQs or tips please PM me.

We can also use this thread to share pics and hatching details with each other.

I am not sure how many people are interested in doing this but I thought it would be neat to see how many people use this method.
It would seem a lot of people are interested in using this method. It allows for a more natural hatching and raising experience and helps provide a more sustainable flock.

Thanks to everyone for making this thread a success. Sharing of knowledge is what we humans do best and the vast information in this thread is helping improve a lot of peoples flocks.

Please take a moment to review the FAQs below.
 
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michaelinnc84

Songster
8 Years
Feb 5, 2011
312
57
133
Western North Carolina
Note: If you see any misinformation, things you think should be added, information needing updated or removed, or any other changes to the FAQs please PM me. I will try and keep them updated. Thanks!

FAQs

How old does a hen and rooster need to be to be able to breed?
They need to be between 16 and 18 weeks old.

How do I know if a hen is broody?
They tend to stay in their nest boxes - getting up only a couple times a day - if that - to get nurishment and to relieve herself. A broody hen also might growl or bite at you if you come too close. They also tend to puff out their feathers to look larger and also to pull some feathers to keep their eggs warm.

Purpose of a broody hen?
A broody hen is great to have around if you want to hatch eggs the natural way. They are great on farms that want to be self sustainable or in case of a power outage when you can't use an electrical incubator. The broody hen will also protect and teach the young chicks. They do however stop laying eggs while being broody and this is a problem for some.

Other hens laying eggs in her nest?
If you find other hens laying eggs in the broody hens nest, it is is best to mark the broodies eggs with a washable non toxic marker. This will allow you to collect the extra eggs each day and ensure the broody continues to sit on the same eggs. Others have had success with moving the broody hen off by herself where other hens can't get to her.

How do I make my hen go broody?
You can't make a hen go broody, especially if it's not in her nature or if broodyness has been bred out of that breed by other breeders or hatcheries. You can however get a few golf balls and put in a nest to see if that will encourage her to go broody. If she sits on the golf balls for a few days without getting up except for a few minutes, then she is broody and you can put some fertile eggs under her.

What are the best broody hens?
Araucana - Frequent Brooder
Australorp - Very Frequent Brooder
Belgian D'Anver - Frequent Brooder
Belgian D'Uccle - Very Frequent Brooder
Brahma - Frequent Brooder
Cochin - Top Notch Brooders
Dominique - Frequent Brooder
Dorking - Very Frequent Brooder
Japanese - Very Frequent Brooder
Java - Frequent Brooder
Marans - Very Frequent Brooder
New Hampshire - Good Brooder
Orpington - Frequent Brooder
Silkie - Top Notch Brooder
Sussex - Good Brooder
 
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Fuffy

Songster
10 Years
Sep 3, 2009
874
12
131
Jersey, GB
I put 10 eggs under my broody silkie cross last year. That was my first time hatching anything.


It was such fun that I have just ordered 10 Buff Sussex eggs for her. They should be here by Wednesday. Can't WAIT!!!!


Has anyone tried leaving their broody hen with the flock? I would be worried that the other birds might kill the little chicks. I'd love to hear!
 

bantyhen'sfriend

Songster
10 Years
Mar 22, 2009
233
6
121
Southern Wisconsin
I've been having a hard time hatching my white rock bantam eggs in my hovabator, so I have seven in the 'bator and seven under my white rock hen (who decided to go broody after I needed a hen...
). We'll see if nature does a better job than my hovabator on these eggs. Will post back with results!

I have had no luck moving the hen, so I moved the rest of the flock, lol! I have two pens bacause my rock cockeral fights with my cochin cock, so I just took all the hens (mutts) from the pen my rocks were in and put them in the other pen. This might not work for everyone, but it's OK for me. You might also be able to partition off a part of the coop, like we did for a new batch of youngsters a couple of years ago.

Our nest boxes are raised off the ground, and I am concerned about the chicks falling out and not being able to get back up to mama. Should I make a ramp? Should I close off the front of the nest box until everyone has hatched and then move the chicks and mama to ground level?
 
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michaelinnc84

Songster
8 Years
Feb 5, 2011
312
57
133
Western North Carolina
I would either close off the bottom of the box so they wont fall out or move the nest to the ground. I wouldn't build a ramp in case they fall of the ramp or can't make back up. I am excited to see how she does. When is the hatch day?

I think one of my red production hens is broody but I am confused because the rooster is only 4 months old but the eggs are fertilized (little white dot on the yoke) but I thought roosters had to be 6 months old. He isn't even crowing yet. However I do have a bantam cochin rooster that is crowing (unknown age) that might have done the deed but I haven't witnessed any breeding going on. Should I try and separate her and let her set on them and see how things come along?
 

bantyhen'sfriend

Songster
10 Years
Mar 22, 2009
233
6
121
Southern Wisconsin
Thanks, I'll make a wire front with a lip on the bottom that's about 4" high so the chicks can't get out, and mama can't abandon them accidentally. Hatch date is March 5th.

Your hen's eggs might be fertilized, if she has been exposed to the bantam cochin. You don't have to see the breeding for it to have taken place. However, cochins have a hard time reproducing because of the buttfluff, and also a bantam rooster over a LF hen is going to have a hard time hitting the mark. My banty cochin roo has never been able to fertilize our New Hampshire X hens, but our SSH and Rosecomb bith laid fertile eggs. I don't think a 4 month old rooster could breed, but who knows?
All eggs have a white dot, what you're looking fore is a little bullseye in that white dot. There are pictures on here somewhere, I think in a thread titled "Fertile vs INfertile" or something to that effect.
 

ldrwnorman47

Chirping
9 Years
Jul 6, 2010
98
18
51
Hello All. Im absolultey thrilled someone started this. I am a beginner at the natural brooding way but sooo excited about it. I will tell you how I have done mine and i will accept any comments and or advise.I have around 35 golden comet hens and about 10 buffs. One of my golden comets decided she wanted to go broody, which is WONDERFUL! I have never hatched and I have always bought mine at a Tractor Supply or local feed store. I saw that about a week ago she started sitting. I got advice and searched the internet for help. What I learned was to let her set a few more days to see if she really is going to hold it out being a first timer. On day 4 I moved her out of the coop into another smaller pen. I used a Lg Breed Dog Cage and altered it to make a nice brooder for my hen. They said it needed to be slightley darker covered and good air circulation. When I moved her she ate, drank and pooed (A LOT) and then went to the nest about 10 min later. ON day 6 and day 7 I decided to pick her off the nest to see if she would go back or not. A friend of mine suggested this to see if she was going to sit "tight"" and accept the 21 day challenge. This morning I checked her and she was still sitting. I talked to my friend and he said sounds like she is ready to put some eggs under her. I set 16 Golden Comet eggs. O I also moved her to the new pen after dark and placed un valued eggs in it before I moved it so she wasnt confused. Now my book that I have (stories book on how to raising chickens) says to use pine wood shavings but those are costly and I have a lge supply of hay and staw I opted for straw. Never had a problem with it this early in the year.

If i left my hen i with the others I would be scared that one the others might decide to eat the fuzzy intruders when they are hatched and that another hen would mix her nest up with the sitting hen. To many variables for me. I opted to mover her !!
 
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