Broody lady

Ralph, one of our Black Australorp hens, has gone broody. Since we don’t have any roosters, and thus no fertilized eggs, I got 7 fertilized eggs from my brother-in-law. We marked them with a big “F” (fertilized) and slipped them under Ralph. She settled back in and happily covered them all with her wings. She’s keeping them at a constant temperature and humidity, and turns them 3 times a day to make sure they develop correctly. From what I understand, broodiness has been breed out of chickens (’cause if they are sitting on eggs instead of laying them, they are not a financial benefit to big chicken corporations). Have any of you ever hatched chicks from a broody hen? Tomorrow, Toby is going to build a top bar hive for our bees and I think I’ll build a little nesting house for Ralph. That way, her nest can be on the ground, where the chicks won’t fall out, and we can separate her from the other chickens. In 3 weeks, we might have some little baby chicks!!

6 thoughts on “Broody lady

  1. We’ve never hatched chicks by a brooding hen but we did have a chicken who went broody. She was an interesting chicken to begin with – slept with the dogs, ate with the dogs, ran around the yard with the dogs, ate pizza and came in the house to clean up under the kitchen table – and then one day she disappeared and we figured a coyote got her or she’d gone off and died. Everyone asked about her, everyone missed her and then three weeks later, my son came to us and said ‘Chicken is in the garage!!’ I didn’t believe him until I saw Chicken pop her head out of the dog food bag (that was proof it was ours…). We discovered about ten eggs in a ‘nest’ in the insulation of the garage. She must have decided she’d hatch these eggs -but they weren’t fertiliized and when they didn’t hatch I think she finally thought – eh, screw it. I’m going back to being a dog.

    good luck! Can’t wait to see the chicks.

  2. I’m so excited you’re building a top bar hive! Jack is wondering what design you’re using, because he’s wanting to build us one and isn’t sure which design is best…will yours have a mesh on the bottom…will it have “legs”? He’s looking for a design he can begin using…and we know very little about bees. Is there a resource — book, dvd– other than the websites that you’re referring to? Oh man, SO delighted to see you trying the top bar type! 🙂

  3. Until I moved to the mountains I was a city girl. How could you tell she was broody, which I take to mean she craved motherhood. I am actually very interested. I may walk up to visit tomorrow.

  4. Well, generally the chickens will lay their eggs and hop off the nest and go back to eating, rolling in the dirt, and other chicken things. They never stay on for very long. But Ralph wouldn’t get off of the nest. When you opened the door to the box she would puff up her feathers and cluck at you. She comes of the box one or two times a day for 5 minutes or so to get some food and then hops back up there.

  5. we had 3 broody hens 2 years ago and let them set. they ended up killing each other’s chicks as they hatched because we kept them together. it was a huge fiasco. lesson learned, next time, keep them separate!

    since you are separating her from everyone else, all will probably go very well. just make sure she knows how to take care of them once they are born (we had one hen that was dumb and stepped on her chick and killed it) and be prepared to take them away if she doesn’t know what she’s doing once they are born.

    i love the whole hen-setting-hatching process. it is so much fun!

  6. I grew up on a small farm (5.7 acres) and we always had chickens, and at least a few a year went broody.

    2 things: she will turn them far more than three times a day: that’s the bare minimum for turning them when incubated by humans. The self-turning incubators turn the eggs once an hour, and hens turn them even more often than that: in one studying, they found that hens turned their eggs around 96 times a day (um, yeah, I’m a bit of a compulsive researcher).

    Also, only certain breeds have had the broody-ness bred out of them: mainly the very specialized egg laying breeds like leghorns. Other egg layers, like Barred Rocks and Rhode Island reds also will occasionally go broody. Meat breeds didn’t receive this selective pressure as it doesn’t matter if they go broody because they aren’t bred for eggs. Also, bantams, cochins and silkies are all excellent brooders.

    I always enjoyed our broody hens and watching the little chicks hopping about after their mother. Is so fun to watch her lead them around and cluck at them to draw their attention to little bugs and things to eat. It’s one of my favorite memories of the farm.

    Good luck with yours!

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