My Broody Hens

For the first time in the five years of raising birds, I have had some truly broody hens. In years past, I have had birds who merely sit on the eggs for a couple of days and never hatched any. I think this is about to change. For around a week now, two of my hens are broody on about a total of a dozen eggs. Butterscotch, my Americana, is sitting on top of some fertilized silkie eggs coming from a pair of silkies in the barn. Whenever someone approaches her or walks past, she ruffles her feathers to look larger and makes a sort of growling noise. Yes, a growling noise coming from a hen. Before Butterscotch, my little girl duck, Olive, was sitting on as many eggs as she could. She is a bantam Call duck (she is very teeny), which leaves her not many feathers to cover all of the eggs. She would also guard her eggs and when I came near hiss at my hand and sometimes pecking it whenever it got too close. Interestingly after two days, a broody Blue Cochin, Sassy, kicked Olive out and claimed the eggs to be hers. She also plucked all the feathers off her chest to expose her skin to the surface of the eggs. Instead of fighting it, and maybe causing more harm to Olive, I let the birds decide who sat on the eggs and it happened to be Sassy. She has been a very consistent mother, always sitting on her eggs and never going too far away from her eggs. To help both of my broody hens out, I put a bowl of food and a full waterer within a foot of their nests. This allows them to have food and water and not let their eggs get chilled while they are eating. This is hopefully the first time that my own birds will hatch their own eggs and raise a family.

The tricky thing about broody hens is that if the eggs aren't really going to hatch they can stay broody for too long. I have even heard of hens that died while broody. Their body temperature rises when broody and they can get "too comfortable". If the eggs are fertilized cool, if not you are going to help her get "un-broody" (is that a word?)

1. Put water and food nearby

2. Keep her in a quite safe place, unbothered by other hens

3. A set of eggs will take approximately 21 days til hatch out.

4. If you don't want them to be broody, simply take them of the nest and keep them away from that spot for 24+ hours. And remove the eggs from the nest.

5. Don't let a hen go longer than 21 days.


Kimberly said...

Oh how fun! I just had my first broody go all the way to hatchlings last week! It was one of the ones that isn't supposed to go broody, but ha! She's been a great mama, and has kept all 5 chicks alive for over a week now!

Day 1:

You have this to look forward to, hopefully! http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimberlyjennery/5819945257/in/set-72157594176460841/

Anonymous said...

So exciting! We have no experience with broody hens. Our hens are just laying so I'm actually hoping none will go broody. Ha ha.

IamthatIam publishing... said...

This is amazing. I don't know anything about chickens, I'm learning as I go through life from you. I hope everything goes well for the hens and the eggs - Sassy - well, maybe there is something in a name after all.

Anonymous said...

Hi O! I love reading about your hens! How are the rest of them? See you in three weeks!