Hatch­ing with a broody hen

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QOne of our hens has gone broody, and the chil­dren are ask­ing about hatch­ing chicks. It’s a real pain to keep lift­ing her off the nest – lit­er­ally as she pecks me – and I’m tempted to leave her there just to make life eas­ier. Would there be any harm in putting some fer­tile eggs un­der her? Our coop has two nest-boxes, so the other hens would still have some­where to lay their eggs.

AAnne Perdeaux says: Giv­ing your broody some eggs to hatch may seem like an easy way of deal­ing with the prob­lem, but you are likely to cre­ate sev­eral new ones. The other hens may well add their eggs to the broody’s nest when she leaves it each day to eat and drink. You can mark the in­cu­bat­ing eggs, but the new eggs will be kept warm un­til you re­trieve them. This isn’t ideal, and you’ll still have to move that grumpy broody! There is also the chance of the broody re­turn­ing to the wrong nest-box and sit­ting on the fresh eggs, leav­ing hers to go cold. Even if chicks do hatch, a coop used by adult hens isn’t a healthy en­vi­ron­ment for them. Be­ing broody for weeks will de­bil­i­tate the hen, so if you don’t re­quire her ser­vices, move her to a coop with a wire base. A dog-crate raised above ground level works well, as long as it’s in a se­cure en­vi­ron­ment. Be pre­pared to keep her there for sev­eral days. If you re­ally want to hatch some chicks, then pro­vide your hen with a broody coop so she can do the job prop­erly, but re­mem­ber – some of those cute chicks will grow up to be cock­erels!

Broody hens need pri­vacy to do their job!

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