Spring time is a time for new beginnings, broody hens and baby chicks. When hens wish to hatch some eggs of their own, they become broody. When broody, they puff out their feathers and hunker down inside the nesting box. There they stay, dedicated to the thought of hatching eggs. Eggs are not even a requirement to being broody. Often my broody hens will perch themselves upon imaginary, invisible eggs. Sometimes folks try to break broody hens from this trance-like state. There are all sorts of techniques out there. Some believe that hens will perish if they remain in a broody state. Others break broody hens because when a hen is broody, she will not lay any eggs. However, I prefer to let nature take its course and closely monitor these hens during this time. Some breeds tend to go broody more than others and nowadays most breeds have had broodiness bred right out of them.
|A pip in the shell of a hatching Silkie egg.|
Before a hen goes broody she will lay an egg every day. This group of eggs is called a clutch. Depending on the size of your chicken, the clutch will be anywhere from 9-15 eggs. Clutches usually consist of an odd number of eggs. Odd numbers help the eggs to fit closely together.
Broody hens will sit in the nesting box 24 hours a day. They will come off of their eggs once or twice in a 24 hours period to eat, drink and poop. Broody hens make broody poops.
|Dolly, our Silkie Bantam, and her hatched brood.|
Broody hens will pull their breast feathers out to help make a nest. They will also place the eggs against their bare skin to help maintain the proper humidity for hatching eggs.
Broody hens will steal other hens’ eggs to sit upon and can often be seen rolling them into their nest from neighboring nesting boxes. They will hatch all breeds. Broody hens talk to their eggs the entire time. Broody hens also rock and rotate their eggs every few hours.
Broody hens do a great job at hatching eggs on their own. When the eggs begin to peep at about 19-20 days of incubation, the broody hen will no longer leave the nest.
If you are not hatching chicks, you should remove eggs promptly from a broody hen. However, that may not break her broodiness.
If you let nature take it’s course, the broody period typically lasts about 3 weeks. Hens can go broody at anytime during the year, but are more likely to go broody in springtime and warmer weather.
To read more about chicken health issues click here. It’s a great place to start!
|Teaching her little ones how to eat.|