Have you ever wondered about hatching chicks with a broody hen? Ok, I will admit, on the surface this seems so simple. I mean, afterall, broody hens hatched chicks for a long time before incubators.
One day we decided (spur of the moment) to take some eggs out to one of our broody hens. This particular girl was SUPER committed, she had been brooding in our goats hay feeder for two months.
Despite our best efforts, we could not break her from being broody. So, we gave in and let her hatch some eggs.
What happens after you give your broody hen eggs to hatch?
Once your broody hen has her fertile eggs you can pretty much leave her to her own devices. There are a few things you will want to watch for:
1. Make sure she stays broody
Sometimes, for whatever reason, a broody hen will decide to leave her nest part way through. If this happens, you might need to fire up your incubator.
However, make sure she is not just getting up for food or water. Our girl would hop out of the hay feeder every morning when I opened the stall door.
She would stick her head in the goat’s water bucket, fly over the fence, and find something to eat. After a few minutes, she would fly right back over the fence, stop for another quick sip from the water bucket, and nestle right back down on her soon to be hatching eggs.
2. Make sure she gets up to eat and drink
Your broody hen doesn’t need to stay on the eggs constantly for the entire 21 days. She will get up to eat and drink.
However, she should not be off the eggs for lengthy periods of time. To help her out, you might want to move food and water close to her.
In the case of our broody hen, she had a daily routine for getting her own food and water. Not all hens will make it as easy as she did for us.
3. Keep her safe
Other chickens may pick on your broody hen. Or even try to push her off her nest. So, just keep an eye out and make sure no one is bullying her.
We have a large dog, Buffy, living with our goats as a livestock protector. She has discovered that fresh eggs are a delicious and convenient treat.
She will wait for a hen to lay an egg and immediately charge in, barking, until the hen abandons her egg. If the hen is not very motivated to move quickly, Buffy will sometimes snap at them in encouragement. Luckily, this has not been a fatal practice but it can be stressful and dangerous.
Because of this, we will sometimes, move the eggs and our broody hen to a safer (and dog free) location.
In short, be aware of your broody hens surroundings and plan accordingly.
What happens after your broody hen hatches chicks?
This is the part of the process that we were not prepared for. It isn’t really too much work or preparation, but you should think about this ahead of time.
Where will your broody hen and her newly hatched chicks go?
The chicks won’t need a brooder set up if you plan to let your broody hen raise them. However, the chicks will be very small and will need a safe place.
In our experience, the rest of the flock somehow knows not to mess with Mama Hen’s new babies. But, it is always good to watch closely to make sure no one will pick on the babies.
If there are any issues, you can always section off a part of the coop (or use a crate) to separate the new Mama Hen and her babies from the rest of the flock.
Want to see a cute video of a what happens after a broody hen hatches chicks in your flock? Check it out below.
Have you let any of your broody hens hatch chicks? If so, we would love to hear your tips in the comments below!