So you’re going to be a chicken momma huh?
For the most part chickens raising chickens is as natural as it gets and usually they don’t need any assistance nor do they want any. However under a few circumstances there are preparations and precautions to you should make.
Over the last 12 years of raising chickens I have become well versed in regards to the Broody hen. And I do love me some Broodys! Here are a few simple points to make this hatch less stressful on you and your hen.
- If possible leave her be!
If momma hen has made a warm nest in the nesting box and is safe from the elements and other chickens picking on her or laying eggs in her box, its best to leave her be. She has wonderful natural instincts and for the most part, she has chosen a spot to Brood her chicks that she deems safe.
If you do leave her in the original spot, carefully sneak your hand under, or wait until she gets up and eats/poops and using a marker (I use a sharpie, as pencil will rub off), put a x on each egg. This will let you know if another hen has laid an extra egg there while she was up and eating. If a new egg is laid, remove it. You want the chicks to all hatch on the same day or close to.
2. Reason to move a broody hen
There are several reasons why you may need to move momma hen into a safer place. First and foremost is if she’s in danger. Chickens are picky about where they lay their eggs and if momma has decided to make home in the favorite nest box, chances are, the other chickens will boot her out and possible her eggs as well. I have seen many naughty hens nudge broody hen’s eggs onto the cold hard floor.
3. Save the eggs, save your eyeballs. Move momma at dark!
Heres the deal folks. You need to move her at dark time. She is less likely to fuss and claw your eyeballs out and “break” aka… abandon her eggs. Grabbing her while she is asleep and unable to see well, will get you to goal a lot quicker than trying during daylight.
4. Where to move momma hen
Ideally you have a bit of warm garage space for her. I have seen several people move a broody hen into their bathroom or laundry room, not me, even I have chicken boundaries. Ok. No I don’t! But I do have a husband whose pretty dead set on the “no chickens in the house rule”. Momma will be very happy in a large open top box or Rubbermaid tote. She doesn’t need much room, just enough for her, water and feed bowl and a place to poop. (Broody hens take the stinkiest, largest poop because they only do it once a day. Another reason to not keep her in your house!) As long as she has her eggs, she shouldn’t complain.
5. Chicken nabbing 101
Once you have found your box or tote, fill it with the same nesting material that she’s already laying on, example, if she’s laying on hay, put hay in her box, if she’s laying on wood chips; give her wood chips in her box. Ect.
When its dark outside, put on gloves (important, she will be pissed), take your prepared tote/box to the coop with you, slowly move momma in the prepared box and carefully transplant her eggs under her, she will maneuver them again and again until she’s happy with their placement, your job is to just get them back to her. Next, place the bedding she is laying in the box with her. This has familiar scent and will help ease her adjustment. Once you get momma in her new home, give her the water and feed dish and walk away. I always check up on her several times during the first couple days, more for my piece of mind then for hers.
6. Chicks have hatched and mommas ready to go be social
Sometimes there will be a few stragglers under momma that didn’t hatch. When she’s done being broody, she’s done! There is no getting her to sit back on the stragglers even if their still viable. There is nothing you can do unless you happen to have an incubator warmed up and ready to go. This isn’t a bad idea if you notice her getting ancy.
Once momma is walking around or jumps out of the box, she is ready to be transplanted back to the coop, along with her babies. There is no need to put out a bowl of chick feed, (the others will just eat it up anyways) she will teach them how to forage and lead them to water. They will be one with nature. Your job is done my friend. Give yourself a pat on the back and congrats, you’re a new chicky momma!
I have never moved a broody this way and had her break. Besides giving her a safe, warm place to hatch her babies, you now get the pleasure of watching those cute lil fluffy butts run out from momma for a few days. This is absolutely the cutest thing about keeping self sufficient chickens.
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