Why You Should Let Your Hen Go Broody
If one of your hens goes broody – don’t brush her off the eggs – celebrate!
This is a rare blessed occurrence.
The chicks typically sold at farm stores or the ones that come from mail-order-chick companies have been bred to NOT GO BROODY. Yup, chicken producers have been selectively removing the broody chicken gene from our flocks.
Many folks don’t like broody hens.
ONE: They are grouchy
A broody hen is typically in a bad mood. She wants to sit on eggs. When you attempt to remove her sweet clutch of eggs from underneath her, she will have a problem with it. It can be a full-combat sport to try to remove eggs from underneath a broody hen.
TWO: They don’t lay eggs
Once a hen goes broody, she stops laying. Her mission in life is to hatch out those eggs & that is what she will do. She no longer will contribute eggs to the count – just sit and incubate.
THREE: They are sitting ducks
If a predator visits your coop or barn during the day looking for an easy meal – there is nothing easier than a broody hen. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t run. She sits. And she is lunch.
FOUR: They stay broody
The only way to get a broody hen to get back to life and start scratching, pecking & laying again is usually to let her raise a clutch of chicks. I know there are all sorts of tricks and tips to get a broody hen to stop sitting on eggs – but a determined hen is hard to rationalize with.
At our place, the only cure for broodiness has been a flock of chicks (that she raised) or winter. For some reason, even the broodiest of hens will typically change their mind when the snow begins to blow.
To all of this I say:
Bring on the Broody hen!
Let the girl raise her family and let’s celebrate.
There are 2 remarkable reasons to Let Your Hen Go Broody:
#ONE: Broody Hens are Better than Incubators
#TWO: Broody Hens are Better than Brooders
# ONE: Why Broody Hens are Better than Incubators
Have you ever incubated your own eggs?
We have. Several times. We have also let several hens hatch some eggs. One year we decided to have a contest. We set 10 eggs in the incubator and 10 eggs under Frizz (our broody hen).
At the end of the 21 day incubation period, we hatched out 5 of our eggs and Frizz had 9 babies.
NINE! Out of 10. That’s an impressive success rate.
In all of our incubation endeavors, we have always managed to hatch about 50%.
SIDE NOTE: If we had an automatic egg-turner we would probably get a little higher hatch rate. (Since we don’t have an ‘egg turner’ we turn them ourselves).
But we’ve never hatched 90%. Frizz hatched out 9 of the 10 eggs underneath her.
Ya know what else? When the chicken hatches the eggs:
- no one must check the humidity
- no one must rotate the eggs
- no one must adjust the temperature
The chicken does it all. And she does it much better than we ever could.
# TWO: Why Broody Hens are Better than Brooders:
Once the chicks hatch a chicken is a perfect mother. There may not be anything as darling as a mother hen with a flock of chicks. She will protect them. She will keep them warm. She will teach them to scratch, peck, eat and drink.
- No heat lamps
- No feeders
- No cleaning the brooder
- No spreading the paper & hay
The mama-chicken is the perfect one to tend the flock.
Another mentionable fact about chicks being raised by a Mother hen:
Chicks who are raised by a hen are silent. Like – completely quiet. It’s remarkable. Anytime we have chicks in a brooder they peep like mad. Always. Never not. I swear I would have a much higher mortality rate raising chickens if I could get the chicks to shut up. It’s as if they are calling the opossums, raccoons, and weasels from the woods to come eat them 24X7.
When a flock of chicks is under their mama, they are completely silent. Completly content. It’s precious. Even after 10 years experience raising chickens, I could never compare to a mama hen.
God’s ways are always best.
How to help your gal raise a healthy flock of chicks coming soon!