Hatching with a broody hen
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!