Can I make a hen broody?

by Janice Johnson
(California)

Do all hens brood or sit on eggs in order to hatch them?

Is there a way to get a hen to sit on eggs that are fertile in order for them to hatch?

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Broody hen behaviour.
by: Cath

Hi Janice,

No, not all hens want to brood eggs, and no, there is no way to make a broody hen become broody if that's not what she wants to be. It's an instinct thing, and some hens are just not that way inclined.

The best way to have a broody hen is to have breeds which are known to be good broodies.

Silkie chickens, for example, are known to be excellent mothers, as are Cochins and Orpingtons.

Breeds like the Red Star, for example, which have been bred to lay eggs but not sit on them, will rarely if ever "go broody".

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Will a broody abandon eggs to care for a chick?

by Kevin Kerr
(Cumbria UK)

I have 6 light Sussex bantam eggs under a broody, she has 1 chick that has hatched that I was testing her broody ness with for 2 days.

I added 2 Silkie bantam eggs 24 hours after the light Sussex.

I’m now worried she will get up with the single chick and leave the nest. Tonight is day 21.

If the others start to hatch tonight will she sit for another couple of days to allow the 2nd lot to dry off?

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Excellent news!
by: Cath

That's really great news, Kevin - thanks for coming back to let us know.

Happy days! :)

Broody hen behaviour
by: Kevin Kerr

As it transpired, She continued to sit on the eggs while they hatched.

I did as you suggested and put food and water close by and the older chick was eating and drinking by day 3 while the others dried off.

Happy families.

Broody hen behaviour.
by: Cath

This will tend to vary from hen to hen. Hens do naturally start to incubate eggs at different times, collecting them for as long as a few days, so it's not an uncommon problem.

I would expect her to want to feed her chick, but she will instinctively know that a chick can go for 24 to 48 hours after hatching before needing food.

If the others start to hatch, she will also want to see them safely through. So she'll be a bit torn between one and the other!

My advice would be to put some water and chick feed close to her nest, and if the chick comes out from underneath her, tempt it to east by dropping some grain on the floor, and dip its beak gently into the water bowl - that's what she would do naturally.

Hopefully then, she'll sit with the remaining eggs until they're all hatched.

That's the ideal situation. It doesn't always work out that way...

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Fertile eggs abandoned! Can I give them to another broody?

by Marg
(Yarck, Vic, Australia)

I have a hen which sat on eggs for 2 days and has now left them for 2 days.

Clearly she has no plans of going back to them and I’m wondering if they were put under another hen are they likely to be still viable.

Thanks.

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Viable or not?
by: Cath

Hi Marg,

Unfortunately, eggs which have been started and then left for as long as two days won't be viable.

I've had the same issue, and I tend to fire up one of my incubators when one of my hens seems to want to sit on eggs.

I'd love a truly broody hen, but mine also give up after a couple of days.

Sorry about your eggs.

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Broody hen made 2 eggs disappear!

by Jan
(Calne, Wiltshire UK)

I have a bantam hen sitting and she is on day 19.

I have moved her to a smaller home with a run all ready but, today instead of 6 eggs I have just 4. No signs of yolk anywhere.

She is still sitting on the 4 eggs left.

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Broody behaviour
by: Cath

Hi Jan,

Broodies - a law unto themselves!

She may have decided for some reason those eggs were not going to make it, or she may have been disturbed by moving. I doubt she'd have let anyone else take the eggs away from her.

Whichever, she still has 4 eggs which she's obviously happy with, so that's a bonus!

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