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Archive for October, 2015

When a hen sits on eggs, refuses to move, makes noises you’ve never heard before and pecks you very hard when you try to get her to move, that hen is broody. There are several ways to handle a broody hen. If you don’t want her to be broody, you can dip and hold the chicken for about 60 seconds in icy water to lower the chicken’s body temperature, which rises when the hen is broody. Lowering the hen’s body temperature will force the hen out of being broody. The second way to handle it is to force her off the eggs so you can remove them each day. The hen will stop being broody on her own, but it will take anywhere from a few days to a month or longer, depending on the weather. The third way to handle a broody hen is to give her eggs to sit on and hatch.

When one of our hens becomes broody, we mark eggs with an ‘x’ using a permanent marker and place them under her. We check them each day so we can remove any unmarked eggs, but otherwise leave the hen and the eggs alone. Soon, we find chicks with our hen. We put water and chick feed in an adjacent laying box, so the hen will stay on the eggs for as long as possible. Typically, eggs will hatch on different days because they were laid on different days or the chicks were at different stages of development. The longer we can keep her and the chicks happy; the longer she will remain on the nest of unhatched eggs.

This year, we had three chicks hatch. We lost one to predation when it went out of the fenced area. The other two are now almost old enough to lay their first eggs.

The chicks are still growing and will soon be the size of their momma.

The chicks are still growing and will soon be the size of their momma.

Taking care of a broody hen is fairly easy. Just be mindful of getting pecked when checking the eggs.

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