Un­wise to leave broody hens in nest boxes

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QWhen a hen goes broody can you leave her in the nest box to hatch her eggs and then, when the chicks ar­rive, leave them all to­gether as one ex­tended happy fam­ily?

AJeremy Hob­son says: You can – but I per­son­ally would ad­vise against it as it can cause all man­ner of prob­lems; not least of which is that your other hens will lay in the same box and un­less you’ve care­fully marked the batch of fer­tile eggs you’ve been sav­ing un­til there’s enough for a clutch, there’s a chance that new-laid eggs will get mixed with the ones in­tended for hatch­ing. There’s also the dan­ger that your other hens could kill the chicks once hatched. It’s far bet­ter to put your broody and eggs in a quiet coop and run well away from the main flock (Ar­ti­cles pre­vi­ously pub­lished in Your Chick­ens and the rel­e­vant chap­ters of chicken-keep­ing books will tell you the best way of do­ing this). Once the chicks have hatched, she will be happy to look after them un­til they are around six weeks of age – by which time the broody may well have come into lay again. She can then be re­turned to the flock (be pre­pared for a bit of bul­ly­ing from the oth­ers un­til the sta­tus quo has been es­tab­lished), leav­ing the chicks in the coop and run un­til they are ei­ther old enough to be in­te­grated into the flock or moved into sep­a­rate ‘adult’ hous­ing de­pend­ing on your set-up and fu­ture plans (you might, for in­stance, want to mate them with an un­re­lated cock bird to in­tro­duce fresh blood).

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