Using a Foster Broody Hen to Raise Chicks

| 6/18/2009 9:39:05 AM

Old Cluck Hen

Five chicks (from the Community Chickens project) hatched late (on a Saturday). They needed a little extra attention, and my wife Sue and I had them in a homemade brooder. The following Tuesday, we noticed that one of our hens didn’t roost at night, but stayed on the nest. That’s a good sign the hen was broody, or “clucking,” as my family used to say.

My mind started to race: What kind of eggs could we give that old cluck hen to hatch?

But Sue had a better idea: Let’s see if the broody hen would foster the five chicks we had in the brooder. I had recently read about Gwen Roland using a broody hen to raise some broiler chickens (Raising Chickens for Meat: Do-it-yourself Pastured Poultry).

On Wednesday morning while it was still dark outside, I moved the broody hen to a secluded box to see if she’d continue to cluck. I left two eggs for her, and she was setting tightly — fluffing up to look intimidating when I’d check on her. By Friday night, I was satisfied that she was committed to the project.

Saturday morning (so I’d have more time to watch the results), I took the chicks from the brooder box — again before sunrise — and tucked them under the old cluck hen’s wings. Although they’d been under a heat lamp for a week, they seemed to sense the hen’s warmth and nestled right in.

Robbie Huber
2/12/2010 1:51:57 AM

Had around Christmas time -2 Sebright roosters &2 Sebright hens(All brothers&sisters-born last June).The 2 hens;the oldest(?)\more dominate nested together. My "coop" is my old building. the 2 hens picked out 1 of the old feed troughs 2 lay their eggs in.Hen #1 (more dominate) started off. she mated with a neighbors Old Eng. roo& aBlack Astrolorp(both also bantams)- So I got brown tinted eggs!My4 chickens parents were purebred Sebrights! Anyway, sis1 got going laying eggs;then sis2 got up beside sis1 &started layig.Sis1 went broody 1st. They would sit on ea others eggs. someties1 hen(hen1) would have 3 eggs &sis2 would have 16. Sometimes it would b 12 ea was sitting on. They started hatchingout the day b4 Christmas eve.Hen#1 Sat on squahed 2 of the babies 2 death within 10 mins. By the day after Christmas "mama1had saton\squased 20 baby chicks!1baby was "tossed over the side of the nest& died! I tried rescuing2-set them in a plas. tub w\hay; they got 2 cold so Ihad to put them back with mama1- she sat on\squashed them.Other hen meatime join her brothers- she was no longer broody. Few days later Hen #1 was killed by an owl or a hawk??Poss. somethingelse--all that was left was justa few feathers. Hen #2 islaying again,but NOT broody! she avoids the roosters(the neighbors roos all got killed)I think I need a broody hen-it must b experienced: not a "squatter"!Thank you -would accept any comments

Conan Carter
6/24/2009 12:14:49 PM

I will try these and see what I can do. Thanks for the great suggestions.

Troy Griepentrog_1
6/24/2009 8:45:57 AM

There are several methods to “break up” a broody: -Move her to a different coop or pen—during the day, not when it’s dark. Make sure it’s well-lit, not a dark spot. -Move her to a cage that’s hanging from something (ceiling, etc.). It should be slightly unstable so it moves a bit. -Put her in a few in a few inches of water so she has to stand (can’t sit) for several hours. -Or you can simply isolate her so she’s not sitting on any eggs and let her stop on her own time. Troy Griepentrog

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