I’ve got tons to say about broody hens, and have in a number of posts I’ve written about my own flock. They can be challenging when they choose the worst times to experience motherhood or vexing when they don’t stay the course, but at the end of the day nothing is more heart-warming than seeing a hen trucking around the yard with her chicks in tow. Having babies is the highlight of the season for me. Since I’ve posted lots about my own hens I thought I’d share the stage with other chicken keepers for this special Mother’s Day post.
A month or so ago, I picked up a couple of rough looking hens from a guy when I went to buy a pigeon. He had far too many roosters and they were harassing his poor hens to the point that they were missing their tails and quite a few of their neck feathers.
A couple of weeks ago, my broiler chicks came in and, over the weekend, I started putting them outside in a small run during the day along with my bantam teenaged chicks.
Once the broilers started going outside, I noticed that one of these hens would spend the entire day next to the pen. She would just sit there next to the baby gate talking to them every single day.
Today, I went ahead and stuck the hen in with the little ones to see what she would do. As it turns out, she just wanted them all as her own babies! (Though now I feel a tiny bit bad for her since she only gets five more weeks with them).
As we’ve transitioned from an active business to a small personal flock, we are trying to keep things as simple as possible. This includes going the low effort route of managing broody hens: let them raise babies.
This lady had been broody for a while. After deciding to let her have some chicks, we tried to block her less practical broody lair and give her some fake eggs to try out a better spot. Well, it turns out incubating is not her strong suit. The eggs were rarely under her. So we took care of that part for her and gave her some chicks. She is very pleased that all her hard work of occasionally sitting on plastic eggs has paid off! Despite her failures at incubating, she is being a great mother and the neighbours are intrigued.
I have been around chickens my whole 63 years of life and this is the first time I have seen hens sharing a nest. The black hen started setting and then her “sister” decided to join her. My concern was that some chicks would obviously hatch sooner than others and eggs might get swapped around.
At exactly 21 days with no hatched chicks and a couple of smelly bad eggs the black hen abandoned the nest and left the red hen to finish. One chick was hatched and then she abandoned the rest of the eggs. I really didn’t want more chicks so this is a good thing. The flock is making a fuss of the lone chick.
Our ol’ retired lady ZsaZsa, is very much enjoying this self-declared Grandma role. She didn’t hatch this group or the three Brahma batches immediately before either, but as soon as they come out of the incubator she wants nothing more than to be in that brooder loving on the little ones.
Once they’re off to their new homes, she happily takes a well deserved break and spends her time relaxing, cuddling under any fluffy blanket, basking in the sun and eating all the “not so baby friendly” goodies for a week or two until the next batch arrives. Then she wants to do it all over again!
She’s such a gem. As a lady of a certain age, she knows what she wants and I’m not inclined to argue with her.
I was not prepared for the babies to ride momma like a horse around the nursery box. It’s the best part of my day. I can’t tell if I need to get a life or if I have the best one.
Getting to witness her raise her baby chicks amazes me everyday, especially about how she teaches them new things. I went out to close the chicken door like I usually do every night. I usually see Big Mama and her chicks on the floor all snuggled up under her ready for bed, but when I went out tonight and didn’t see them, I panicked a little. Then I looked up where all the other hens roost and to my amazement Big Mama was up there with all her babies! It’s their first night with the other ladies tonight.
I got to witness THE most beautiful and heartwarming chicky momma moment last night.
My momma hen went broody and sat for three weeks on 12 eggs. She kicked out five eggs (I candled and most had blood lines), and the rest started to hatch. Unfortunately she lost four babies, which left her with only three. I could tell she was so sad. I called the local chick dealer and they had 2-day-old babies.
I went to indulge in my addiction, picked up 12 new babies and brought them home.
I have witnessed and heard sooo many horror stories about introducing new babies to a broody hen.
I wasn’t sure what she would do to them so I put a divider up between them. Once I started pulling the babies out, they began chirping loudly and my momma started to raise her voice. Before I knew it all 12 babies were at the divider. Then momma’s original three babies came out to the divider too. One by one, I put the new babies in with momma. She was loud and WANTED all the babies!
She took them all gently under her and began purring and has not stopped! I have never heard a chicken purr like this, but momma is happy with HER 15 babies
Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories and photos in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Featured photo: Bitchin’ Chickens
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