We’ve had a broody hen in our coop for a few weeks now, so I’ve decided to make her a Mama. Here’s how to introduce chicks to a broody hen.
Every day, I would find her in a nesting box sitting on eggs, no doubt with the long hope that the eggs would hatch. One, maybe two. She’d be happy with any number, no more. no less, but one would be fine.
Day in and day out, she was dedicated. But, she has not been our first broody hen. We’ve had a few, and we’ve broken them of the broody cycle of simply cooling them down in a knee deep pool of cold water. Just up to their chest to cool them off and break the heat that was stored to warm the hopeful littles.
But for some reason, this hen was different. It might sound just a little odd to say, but I connected with her. She longed to be a Mama and take care of her brood, little baby chicks. She never waivered, and never strayed from that nesting box. Girlfriend was loyal to her longing.
I get that.
Unlike broodies past, I decided to make this broody hen’s dream come true, and buy a few chicks to place under her to take care of; to raise, to teach, and to mother. After all, this is what she was waiting for.
I headed up to a local farm supply store that sold baby chicks to buy a few. The goal and the plan was to carefully place each chick under the broody hen and pray that she would take them as her own.
One by one, we carefully placed each chick under her, and with each chick, we could see her filling up with joy, with responsibility, with warmth, and with true love. There’s always a small chance that the Mama won’t take to the chicks, but that wasn’t the case here. No, not at all. This Mama took to those chicks so naturally.
She spread her wings to supply warmth.
She clucked in low clucks so they could hear her voice.
And those baby chicks were right at home just underneath her belly, keeping warm and feeling her connection.
Table of Contents
How To Know That A Hen Is Broody
There are 7 main characteristics of a broody hen:
1). She will refuse to leave the nesting box.
2). She fluffs her feathers out to make herself look big.
3). She will make growling noises and may peck at you when you try to remove her.
4). She will run back to the nesting box when you’ve managed to remove her.
5). She plucks out her chest feathers.
6). She’ll stop laying eggs, though she will lay in the very beginning of her broody stage, when she sits there, hard core, then she will stop laying all together.
7). She will eat and drink less than normal.
Our hen displayed all of these signs and characteristics for 3-4 weeks. This is another important point to make as well: To make absolutely sure that you have a broody hen, she must display these characteristics and show that she’s “committed” for around a week or two.
How To Introduce Chicks To A Broody Hen
Introducing chicks to a broody hen will be the best surprise of her life, and the best part is that you can choose whatever breed of chick you wish. Here are a few steps to follow:
1). The chicks should not be any older than 48 hours. This is important because otherwise, it’s highly likely that the chicks will not take to the hen and vice versa.
2). Set up a safe and comfortable environment for the hen and chicks. Make sure the bedding is soft and clean, and that she and the chicks have easy access to food and water.
3). Take each chick and gently place under the Mama hen. Let the Mama hear the peeping and then watch to make sure she takes to the chicks and that the chicks take to her.
4). All is going well when you see that she is tucking the chicks under her feathers. A little pecking is fine and natural, but what you don’t want to see is aggressive pecking. If this happens, remove the chicks immediately and place in a homemade brooder box with a heat lamp.
Some websites suggest introducing chicks at nighttime so the Mama hen wakes up to them, but I don’t recommend this because you won’t be able to watch and see if they take to each other. Plus, you’ll miss that entire cuteness factor.
Is A Broody Hen Broody Forever?
For the most part, no. A broody hen does not remain broody. However, there is a slim chance that one will remain broody after raising chicks. She will revert back to the nesting box and start the process over. Though this percentage is low, it still could happen. Hopefully this will not happen to our broody hen, as there is no more room in the inn. Our coop is now at capacity. If she does remain broody, I will follow THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
This whole thing – putting chicks under a hen – has been one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve witnessed in quite some time. So special yet so tranquil. It’s like I could sit there and just watch her with the babies for hours.
It’s been less than two weeks since we’ve introduced the babies to Mama, and every day is such a treasure to watch. We’ve carved out a quiet corner in the coop for them to have their own space, which is important; keep the other hens away from eating the food specifically for the chicks. That’s just for the babies themselves, along with a water station and a little bowl of grownup food for Mama.
And, so far, so good. Mama has been showing those littles all the ropes, and the ins and outs of living the chicken life. And we hope around here, our 1820, that life is a good one for them.
Coop Sweet Coop!
You can see our chicken coop here at Farmhouse 1820, and how we built it by clicking HERE!!