The Lazy Farmer – Broody Hens

So to be honest, we had no idea our hen was broody until I posted a video and had a few responses from people asking me if she was broody. We just assumed she was being a spoilt brat, wanting to sleep in the nest box overnight, so we kept taking her out and putting her back on the roost bar. If you are not familiar with the term ‘broody’ it is essentially a behavioural/hormone change in order to accommodate egg incubation.

The video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=918TIQJYVFo

Eventually it clicked and sure enough she was sat on 3 eggs and not budging. So Laurence and I had a chat, and although ‘winter is coming’ we decided to let her hatch out a few eggs. We left her in the coop with the other chickens initially, which in hindsight was a mistake, every time we went down to check on her a different hen was laying on the eggs, and laying a new egg most times! Which meant the poor hen was sat on about 20 eggs.

So we decided to mark the eggs with an X of those that we were going to let her keep, but as I pulled her off her eggs to do so, she decided she didn’t want to sit on them anymore and ran off. This panicked us but luckily Ginger, our Freedom Ranger, was quick to take her place and thankfully an hour later I saw the broody hen sitting by her nest box waiting to go back in!!

We left her alone after that… however I had no idea broodiness spread, and we started to notice one of our Rhode Island Reds sitting on the eggs often, or in the box next to her, also screeching at me.

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So we decided to move the original broody hen into the garage with her clutch and be in peace, it was good timing too as when we lifted up Red a few of the eggs had cracked and maggots were setting in. So I cleaned out the nest box and moved her out.

That night we candled the eggs to ensure they were fertile and growing and we were left with about 7 good eggs. She had also crushed a few so we removed them.

After about 2 days we grew concerned that no water or food had been touched & no evidence of poop anywhere, so she had not been leaving the nest AT ALL. That evening I took her out and let her stretch her legs around the garage, she made a god-awful clucking sound but finally had a ‘broody poop’ as they are know and downed a lot of feed! It seemed she didn’t trust leaving the nest so this may be something we have to do each evening to make sure she doesn’t starve/dehydrate herself. Not all hens are natural at hatching.

In the mean time two other hens in the nestboxes have become broody and it is a daily battle of kicking them out of the boxes to try and ‘break’ the habit. Trust me, trying to move a hen who doesn’t want to be moved is tough, firstly they will peck hard at your hands and secondly they fluff up so big you cant physically get them out!!!

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Before you ask, they are not even sat on any eggs. We remove the eggs constantly to prevent the broodys but sometimes they will just sit in an empty nest. I’m hoping they will get the hint soon as they are causing a lot of stress on the other hens who just want to come in, lay an egg and leave.

Anyway, 19 days later and I go to pick her up (for her nightly routine of pooping and eating) only to hear one of the eggs loudly peeping at me. So I put her back down and left her alone for the night!

Sure enough on the 25th November I hear chirping coming from underneath Miss Broody. One was out –

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It was a painful wait for them all to be out, I kept moving her slightly and trying to have a sneak preview! eventually after about 48 hours days she moved off her nest and I saw 6 little chicks and one egg. I candled the egg but it was not moving so we disposed of it and cleaned up the egg shells. I left her going in and out and showing the chicks how to eat and drink for 5 days before I let them outside:

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We ended up with 3 Wyandottes, 1 Welsummer, 1 cuckoo Muran and 1 Linda! (California white)
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Miss Broody ended up being an excellent mum, after 4 weeks we put them outside:

They have grown up to be real beauties and it is lovely to watch her still defend them to the death!


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