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What Do You Know Wednesdays – Broody Hens

Welcome to What Do You Know Wednesdays! As you know, we are still learning how to be farmers (we’ve actually known how to be charming for quite some time). We truly enjoy sharing our experiences (the good, the bad, and the hilarious) here with our Charming Readers. Our motto has become, That’s how you learn. We’ve learned by jumping right in and seeing what works, what fails, and what just makes for a great story. And since the point of Charming Farming is to build a community of women who farm – in big ways or small – we would like to hear from you too. What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

Each week (okay let’s say most weeks) we will post a question or problem that we face with farming or one submitted by one of our Charming Readers. We are hoping to get input from other Charming Farmers so that we together we can grow healthier, happier farms and families.

This isn’t a linkup per se, although we hope you will post a link to your blog. But you don’t have to have a blog to contribute. Just share your insights in the comments (with a link to your blog if you have one). And do please share What Do You Know Wednesdays on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or anywhere else Charming Farmers are gathering.

This week I have big news, Charming Friends.

Look at Brigid!
Look at Brigid!

One of our hens has gone broody.  If you follow the blog, you know I have had a lot of questions about getting hens to go broody.   Well, now, low and behold, Brigid has gone broody all on her own -no tricks, no coaxing, no bribing.  In fact it was so unexpected that when she wouldn’t come out of the nest, I actually worried she was wounded or sick.  It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that she was in fact on the nest.  It has been about a week now, and so far so good.  But still, I have some questions…

  • Is there anything I could or should do to keep her on the nest?  I’m worried she’ll get tired and give up. (I just wish there was a way for me to hook up a TV  so she could watch Downton Abbey)
  • Once the the chicks hatch, what should I do?  Do we need to isolate Brigid and her babies to keep them safe or will she protect them?  We have two roosters and a duck bully.
  • Will the new chicks require any extra lighting for warmth?
  • Do I need to buy chick starter?  If so, how do I keep the other hens out of it?
  • And I’m still wondering.  Is there a way to get this to happen again in the future?  It’s so much fun!

Thanks, Charming Friends.  I’m eager to hear what advice and tips you have for us and the mother to be.

4 thoughts on “What Do You Know Wednesdays – Broody Hens

  1. I doubt she’ll get tired and give up, it’s pretty rare. Broody hens have been known to sit on nests with infertile eggs for long past when the hatch date would have been if they’d been fertile. You should isolate mama and her chicks for a while. It would be best to do this as soon as you can, like before they hatch. I’d do it as soon as youc an so Brigid is disturbed as little as possible. Build her her own pen if you can or fence off part of your coop for her and her chicks. Yes, get chick starter. In an isolated pen the other chickens won’t be able to eat it, although Brigid might. You should not need a brooder lamp at all if you are leaving the chicks for the mother to raise unless it is extremely cold. When they get cold they will just duck underneath her to warm up.

    1. I think you are right. She is really hanging in there. I have a couple of options for isolating her. We have a large dog crate that I think she’d be comfy in for a while. We also have a goat stall. As it is, she is in a nest box attached to the wall. We can’t move the whole nest box. Do you suggest moving the eggs out of the box and into her new nest, or should we wait until they hatch? Oh my! I hope they are all fertile – or at least some of them. We are down to one rooster to 20 Brigids. He is very amorous, but he is only one man.

      1. If you move her, you have to move the whole nest, including all the bedding she is sitting on, not just the eggs, even if it is dirty. If you try to put the eggs into a clean nest she will probably want nothing to do with them because it won’t smell like her nest. It’s always a little of a risk to move her without moving the whole nesting box, but generally broody hens cope pretty well after some indignant squawking. A few might abandon the nest. Leaving her in a high nesting box could be dangerous to the chicks though. When they hatch as they could tumble out.

        Do you have a nesting box for her to put in her new pen or crate? She will want the feeling of security that a box will give her. Even a cardboard box if you don’t have a spare nesting box would work.

      2. I don’t think I’ll move her at this point. I don’t think the chicks could tumble out easily. Once they’ve hatched, I’ll move mamma and her little ones to a private suite. I’m so excited. I’ll keep you posted.

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