Chickens · Eggs · Farming with kids · New to farming

Feelin’ Broody?…

The last time we went to the feed store, The Littles decided they wanted some baby chicks to add to the flock. “Fine,” I agreed. “But no need to buy them. We have a henhouse full of chickens and a fine, handsome rooster. Let’s just hatch some of our own eggs.”

So last Sunday, when we went down to the henhouse to gather the eggs, we let two nest boxes set. It occurred to me at the time that the gals might not know our plan and that, not knowing, they might continue to lay more eggs in the same boxes. I also wondered how they would know to sit on them. I don’t normally see the gals just casually sitting on their eggs. They seem to get in there, get the job done, and then join the rest of the flock pecking about the coop. Still, I felt confident that nature would take it’s course and the gals’ mothering instincts would kick in, and we’d have a dozen or so new baby chicks peeping away in a few weeks.

The next day, the boxes indeed contained more eggs than the day before. Okay. So, we’ll have a couple of dozen new baby chicks. All the better! But this pattern continued until both nest boxes were full to overflowing. Still I had faith in nature.

My faith began to waiver, however, when I went to the henhouse one cold night after dark. When I flicked on the lights, all the gals were roosting comfortably high above the nest boxes. Now admittedly, I don’t know a lot about chickens, but this did not seem right to me. At a crisp 40 degrees, hadn’t someone ought to be warming those eggs? Yep, things did not look good for the four dozen or so little chicken embryos we were waiting on so patiently.

Finally, it occurred to me. What if Isadore IV (that’s our rooster) is a dud. Call me shallow, but I assumed that such a regal, fine looking rooster, would no doubt be a stud. Could I and all my gals have been taken in by his teal tail feathers and unusually large comb?


So, I watched. Now, generally I like to give Isadore and his lady love of the moment their privacy. It just seems like the right thing to do. But I needed to see for myself if I thought he was getting the job done.

Okay, I know that rooster/chicken romances tend to be somewhat flash-in-the-pan. But it wasn’t so much Isadore’s speed that concerned me, as his approach. Like, the end of the chicken that he seemed to be approaching. Oh, my poor gals.

Perhaps I just witnessed an off moment for Isadore. And maybe the gals had a plan for hatching the eggs that involved some sort of brooding rotation. I guess I’ll never know. We did break open a couple of eggs, and even though it had been several days, we saw no evidence of a forming chick. In any case, we are scrapping the whole effort for now. Clearly I need to do my research.

  • How do hens know when to sit on their nests?
  • How can you tell if your hens’ eggs are fertile
  • How can you tell if your rooster is a stud or a dud?
  • What is a good recipe for coq au vin?

Of course The Littles and I are disappointed that we won’t be hatching in baby chicks anytime soon.  But that’s how you learn.

This article was linked to The Barn Hop


15 thoughts on “Feelin’ Broody?…

      1. I guess this is how you learn! We did the same thing with rabbits. We just bought whatever we thought was cute without a lot of concern for the direction we wanted our rabbity to take. We are finally to the point that almost all our rabbits are the kind we want to breed. Cute is fun, but it doesn’t pay the feed bill.

  1. From what I understand there should be a fertilized spot on the egg if it os indeed fertilized. You can good pics to help you for getting a hen to set..I had always heard you kinda had to wait for them to go broody and some just don’t go broody often at all…depends on the breed

    1. Thanks. Now that you mention it, I think I recently pinned something about knowing when your eggs are fertile. I’ll check my chicken board. We are getting our son an incubator for his birthday. I think I’ll start him out by purchasing some fertilized eggs. That way he will have a good first-hatching experience. We are so excited. He is going to love the incubator so much more than the Nintendo DSI that I bought him last year whilst in the middle of a pre-Christmas, does everyone have equally cool presents panic. His brother was getting a truck, so the bar was set pretty high. Anyway, he’s not much of a gamer, but he LOVES anything to do with animals. I do hope we can hatch some of our own eggs soon. That would thrill him. Thanks for the tip. If I discover our eggs aren’t fertilized Isadore IV might be looking for a new home.

  2. In my experience, chickens aren’t like ducks or geese, where they build up a nestful of eggs before setting. Ours either go broody, or they don’t. Out of our current 17 hens, only 3 ever go broody. One is a maran, other two are buff orpingtons. They will set up shop in a nest box regardless of whether there are any eggs. They’ll steal eggs that other hens lay nearby. My best broody Bellina will steal eggs up to the day her chicks hatch. I have to mark the ones she’s sitting on, so I can remove the new ones! 🙂

    Also, just because they aren’t going broody, that doesn’t mean your rooster is a dud. Some hens will just never go broody. Others will go broody even when there’s no rooster in the flock.

    Check out the forum at Great place for info. There are some breeds that are more prone to broodiness, if you really want to hatch that way. While it’s way easier to have the hen hatch and raise the babies for you, hatching via incubator is a BLAST! Have fun!

  3. Unfortunately chickens have to want to go broody. I currently have 5 broodies in my coop and not one of them are sitting on eggs (currently have 157 chicks in the brooder). You do not need to have the same breed of rooster as your hens unless you are not wanting barnyard mutts. 🙂 The best thing to do it wait for one of your girls to go broody and then place eggs under her. I have had Rhode Island Reds for 2 years now and not one of them have gone broody. Just not in their nature. My Buff Orphingtons on the other hand are constantly going broody!!

  4. I have been very happy with my RIRs, but I think we’ll add some Buff Orphingtons to the flock. I had’t really thought about it, but I do think I might want to get the same kind of rooster as my hens. I really appreciate all the comments! I’m learning so much.

  5. I know very little about chickens but the research I have been doing is that Rhode island Reds are not known for going broody. The do their job and “get outa Dodge”. A fertilized egg has a bulls eye ring in it. I have found the best information about chickens on a blog call fresh eggs daily. She really seems to know a lot about chickens.

    1. This is why I love this blog (and homesteading blogs in general). I had not idea RIRs were not inclined to go broody. They sure are pretty and make great layers, though. Thanks for your input. I’m going to check for the bullseye today.

  6. We have 8 RIR hens that are going into their third spring … It seems like for the last 2 years only 2 or 3 of them have went broody each year (even though we discourage it by removing eggs multiple times during the day). I’m thinking your Rooster is a Welsummer. I think your best chances for chicks would be to wait for your hen to go broody then leave the eggs for her. We chose to incubate our eggs so we have more control over what and when chicks are hatching. Good luck! 🙂

    1. Yes! I think he is a Welsummer – very handsome. I guess I just need to see if our eggs are being fertilized and then try incubating a few. My Littles will love that! Thanks for your input.

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