A broody hen is an amazing creature. Wait. Did I say amazing. I meant CrAzY! If you’ve never experienced a chicken on your farm who wants to be a mom, don’t worry you will. Generally, this doesn’t happen until they are well into their second year of laying, but it can happen sooner.
There are certain breeds of chickens who are prone to broodiness.
Some of the few we have are Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth Barred Rocks), Orpingtons (Buff or any other color), and Rhode Island Reds. So if you don’t want to hatch baby chicks on your homestead, then stay away from these breeds. Our family loves a broody hen. We love her because that means we don’t have to bust out the incubator!
A broody hen will do all there is to do with hatching chicks. It only takes 21 days to hatch a baby chick. In order for this to happen, eggs need to maintain a certain temperature and humidity level. They must be turned regularly and stop turning on day 18. A broody hen will do all of this for you.
So how do you know if your hen is broody?
Here are 5 signs you have a broody hen.
- She climbs into the nesting box and won’t come out. No matter what you do she wants to stay right. where. she. is.
- When you reach into touch her she growls or sqwaks at you. I bet you didn’t know that chickens growl. Yep. They do.
- Her comb and wattle will fade in color. She will only get down to eat and go to the bathroom once a day. As a result, she’s getting less nutrition and that will show in the coloring of her comb and wattle.
- Her front feathers may be missing. A mother hen plucks her front breast feathers to keep the eggs warm and against her skin. If she’s missing a ton of feathers, she’s probably broody.
- If when you go to collect eggs, you find she is moving with the eggs. We have 5 nesting boxes. There are eggs in all the boxes by 11:00am. However, we have some afternoon layers. If I collect the 11:00am eggs and go back out at 1:00 to find the same hen sitting on those eggs, she’s a broody hen.
It is not always easy to tell when a hen wants to be a mom, especially if they’ve never gone broody before. Some hens think they want to be a mom and then change their mind. They may sit for a week and get up. Others know that’s what they want and they will not let you force them out of it. We had a hen accidentally go broody because she feared our rooster. Her nesting box was safe. Needless to say, we no longer have that rooster!
Once you’ve had a broody hen it won’t be hard to spot them again.
If you’re like us and chicken math got you, you started with 6 birds and somehow now have 36 birds! With this many birds you’re bound to have them go broody off and on through the spring and summer. That is the typical time a hen wants to be a mom. Some do go broody in the winter, but not often.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down CrAzY bird lane and we wish you lots of baby chicks!
~Until next time
Question: What other ways have you been able to tell if you have a broody hen?