Using a Broody Hen to Raise Hatchery Chicks


mother hen teaching her chicks to eat 

Mother hen teaching her chicks to eat. Photo by Kat Ludlam

Is it possible for a broody hen to raise chicks purchased from the store and/or hatched in an incubator? Yes! Using a hen to brood chicks means less work for you and a more natural experience for the chicks. We find that the chicks that we let our hens raise learn to eat and drink sooner and have a lower chick mortality rate. It also helps when it is time to integrate them with the flock, as the mama hen will protect them and help them integrate into the group.

There are a few things to keep in mind before trying to get your hen to adopt chicks.

Be Willing to Brood the Chicks Yourself

Before you undertake this process, you need to be willing and able to brood the chicks in case it doesn’t work. You can’t count 100% on the hen. So be sure you have what you need and are able to brood the chicks yourself if things don’t go well.

Use an Experienced Hen

Next, you need to make sure the hen you choose to use has successfully hatched and raised chicks on her own before. This ensures that she knows how to raise chicks and decreases the chance that she will abandon or reject the chicks.

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