If you’re wondering how to hatch cute baby chicks with a broody hen, you’re in the right place.
Why would you want to know how to hatch cute baby chicks with a broody hen? Well, have you ever gone out to your chicken coop to gather the eggs or to check your chickens and you see one of your hens acting funny?
She might be kind of laying off to the side or laying in a nesting box. Just looking as happy as possible.
Maybe you come out a little later and she’s still just sitting there. When you look underneath her, you see a bunch of eggs that she’s been sitting on. You have to wonder to yourself: Maybe if I leave these eggs out here underneath her, they will hatch while my friend. That is the topic of today’s episode. If these are questions you’ve been asking yourself, you’re in the right place today I’m going to be talking about hatching chicks with a broody hen.
Other Related Episodes:
- Episode 54: How to Order Chicks from a Hatchery
- Episode 130: How to Incubate Eggs to Hatch Out Baby Chicks
In this Post, I will:
- Uncover how to hatch cute baby chicks with a broody hen,
- Share Important care tips for the broody hen and her chicks,
- What it means to be a broody hen.
Listen to the Podcast Episode:
What is a broody hen?
Well, basically a broody hen is a hand that is committed to sitting on her eggs for a long period of time and not just her eggs, but basically everyone else’s eggs.
The broodiness is determined by instinct, lighting and hormones. Broody hens will leave the nest at some time each day to take care of themselves, but other than that, their eggs are number one.
So broody hens are going to sit on those eggs as much as possible. But they do take some time about the same time every day for some self care. Usually during the mid-day or so to eat and drink and take their dust baths. I think it is really cool because hens needs self care just like humans. From my own experience, I have seen that to be true.
Which Breeds of Chickens are Naturally Broody?
The following are some examples of breeds of hens that are naturally broody. This is a short list that you can use if you want to get some chicken breeds that will naturally hatch out their own chicks and my own experience:
– Barred Rocks
– Buff Orpingtons
– Old English
– French Black Copper Marans
Remember that you must have a rooster that is breeding the hens in order to have fertilized eggs. Hens will still lay eggs even without a rooster and they are not fertilized. Just keep that in mind as well. That is kind of a rule. You have to have a rooster.
Common Questions About How to Hatch Cute Baby Chicks With a Broody Hen
So, how many eggs can a hen set on?
She can lay on up to 14 eggs but 12 is really the kind of the rule of them.
How long will the eggs hatch under a chicken?
The incubation period for using a broody hen is the same as any incubation period of a chicken. It’s all the same. It’s 21 days. So three weeks give or take.
When a hen does leave her eggs to go take care of herself, will the eggs be ok?
How long can the eggs be uncovered? And my answer to that is about one to two hours. From what I’ve seen, a hen really just does her thing. She’ll take some time, but then about 1 1/2 hours later – she’s back on those eggs.
So I would say about one to two hours as a good rule of thumb for her leaving her eggs.
Some more signs that your hen is a broody hen
The biggest sign she’s not just being lazy is her behavior. She might peck at you. She might act like she doesn’t want you to take her eggs. Basically, she’ll throw a fit if you’re going to take her eggs. So the main one is her behavior and how she acts.
When you open that coop door or come in near her, what do you need to do when you see a hen acting broody? Well, if you want your hen to stay healthy and hatch out those baby chicks, then there are a few things you can do to make it a success.
Caring for the Broody Hen
The first thing to do is to keep high quality food and water available for your hen.
If your hen is free range walking around, I still recommend that you provide her with some high quality high protein feed. This is because she might have to wander farther away from her eggs. But if you keep what she needs pretty close to the nest, she won’t be away from them for as long.
Also keep the nest clean. If she’s pooped in there or anything like that try to clean that out. Try to keep it as clean as possible. Fresh bedding will also help too.
Other than that, try to leave her alone. Keep an eye on her routine whenever she does leave the nest for her daily self care.
Candle the Eggs
You can get a flashlight and candle the eggs if you want. I’m going to do another episode on candling fairly soon, so stay tuned for that.
Have a Brooder Ready to Go
The final thing that you can do is have a brooder ready to go just in case you need a nice safe spot for the hen and her babies.
Yes, you can keep the babies with the hen, but some hens don’t want to be moms. They’ll just leave the chicks alone. Keep that in mind and have something ready to go.
What if your hen truly abandons her eggs before they hatch? Well, if that happens, then there’s two things you can do. If you have another broody hen, and she doesn’t have a lot of eggs, you can put the eggs underneath her.
Have an Incubator Ready
Also, if you have an incubator or your friend has an incubator, maybe you can borrow that incubator and use the incubator to finish hatching the eggs. It won’t take as long and you’ll need to candle them to see how far along the chicks are. And again, I’m gonna give you a episode on candling fairly soon.
So that’s basically the, just of the hen sitting on the eggs and what you need to do during that time. Let’s talk about hatch day and what your brooder needs to have for success.
Setting Up a Brooder
So there’s several ways that you can set up a brooder. A brooder basically is an area or space for the baby chicks and the mom after hatching.
In the past during a hatch, there’s been times I have not had a brooder area. An area where the mom and baby can be safe. And I’ve actually lost chicks before. I’m not sure if it was cats or dogs or what it was. Now I have a caged in area or a box with sides or something over the top to where predators can get in. Anything like that can get in and kill the chicks.
Also, sometimes the hen jumps out and leaves her babies. Sometimes she’ll come back and sometimes she won’t. So you have to be aware of that as well.
What do I use for a Brooder?
I have an old large rabbit cage. That’s what I like to use for brooder. It is up off the ground. You can do up off the ground or on the ground, just make sure the chicks can’t fall out of it if it’s off the ground.
But it helps protect them from predators. I can put food, water and heat in there for the hen and chicks. Then, after the chicks are about a month old, you can let them out and again keep it clean. I put some straw in there that keeps it nice and cozy.
So that’s just what I like to use and the possibilities are endless there. It’s just whatever you have.
Caring for the Hen and her Chicks
You are not the ones who teach the chicks how to eat and drink. The hens actually teach them how to eat and drink.
So when you get the chicks and their mom into the brooder box, you’re going to provide a good high protein, high quality feed and water in there for them.
I like to use chick starter for that and the mom can eat that too. And it helps keep everybody healthy. The moms will actually start to teach the chick to eat and drink and they’ll respond so well to that.
Hatching chicks is just really a magical special thing. I just love seeing the hens with their babies. It’s absolutely the most adorable thing and the mom will take care of her baby. You’ll just have to make sure of course that that they have food and water and warmth, but really the warmth aspect of it isn’t a huge deal because the mom will keep them warm as well.
A quick story for you.
I had a broody hen hatch out chicks back in November. Late fall is right before the cold starts here in Kansas. When I saw the chicks, I was just curious on how that was going to work through the winter months.
The truth of it is she only hatched out two chicks. I think the cold may have had a big part to play in that in only hatching out two babies. But then again she wouldn’t have had as much room underneath her to keep a dozen chicks warm.
But with her two chicks, she could keep one under one wing and one under the other wing. She kept them nice and toasty warm.
And finally after about a month, I let them out. She was still with them, keeping them warm and she took care of them until they were probably three months old. She stayed with them for that long. Then one day she wasn’t with them anymore. The chicks were off doing their own thing and mama was across the barn doing hers.
So it was just amazing to see how that transgressed over the cold months. I was impressed how the hen continued to take care of those chicks until she knew they were old enough to be on their own. It was really neat to see that.
And while every way to hatch chicks is pretty amazing and I love getting new baby chicks, using a broody hen to hatch chicks and making a new family on the farm is probably my favorite. It’s one that I’m going to do more of.
Let the Hen Be a Hen!
Again, you can use a lot of the skills that you’d normally use an incubation with the broody hen hatching her own. For example, you can candle the eggs when she’s not around.
But in summary, just kind of let her do her own thing. Let the hen be a mama. Just take care of her but let her do her own thing.
Truth: Chickens have been hatching eggs on this earth for thousands of years. We need to remember that when we get really excited about the process of of egg hatching and how to hatch cute baby chicks using a broody hen.
I hope that this has been as exciting for you as it was for me. I really enjoy this process mainly of watching and seeing the hens actually be moms. It’s kind of exciting for me as a mom myself. I just love watching all the animals be mommies. We kind of have a connection there…In a Way.
So if you enjoyed this post and you want to try hatching your own chicks using a broody hen, Please leave us a comment or a review on Apple Podcasts. Also, maybe you know of somebody else who wants to do that as well and have been asking questions, feel free to share this post with that person.
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~ Much Love ~
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