Broody Henny Penny

I have an odd dilemma: one of our pullet hens has gone broody. She wants to do nothing put sit on a nest, and has picked a spot in a 40 gallon tub with hay in it. Originally, there was an egg in that spot…and she really wanted to hatch it. I took that egg away, but she’s still incredibly broody and keeps returning to that spot no matter how I try to separate her from it.

We’ve lost her as an egg layer for several weeks no matter what (once they go broody, hens stop laying — much like mammals stop ovulating when they’re pregnant). I’d normally be inclined to give her a dozen eggs or so and let her “have at” brooding them in a nice isolated nest that no other hens can get into and lay more eggs. We’re big believers in letting mother hens do their thing, and hatching out a brood of chicks they can raise on their own. But here is the problem: 21 days from now (when those eggs would begin hatching), it will be mid-November. In Michigan. Unless she’s the mother of all Buff Orpingtons, those chicks would need supplemental heat for quite some time. The dead of winter is a lousy time to be letting a hen walk around with a clutch of chicks.

FWIW, we have eggs coming out our eyeballs and I can easily spare a dozen for this experiment. But I’m not into animal cruelty, and would hate to see a dozen chicks freeze to death.

Any thoughts from my dear readers? I need to make a decision shortly.

3 thoughts on “Broody Henny Penny

  1. I'd let her go for it. Buffs are pretty tough, and it's not like you're going to be getting eggs from her anyway. And you'll have fresh chicken ready in February!

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  2. I live in the relatively tropical clime of NC, but having had turkeys and chickens brood in the early spring, when there is frost on the ground still, I have been amazed at how little chicks seem affected by the cold. I guess they manage okay as long as they have a nice warm mama to snuggle with.

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  3. We are having a similar problem here. And she is one of my best layers, too! BUT…she has one egg under her. Given the devastation the coyotes have done us this summer (10 of my 16 chickens got eaten), and the fact we're only getting a couple of eggs a day, well, I can't spare more. I'm just letting her sit. She isn't inclined to do anything but, anyway. Once she gets through this batch, she'll be good for a few more months, God willing, before she turns broody again…and then I might actually be willing to let her go for it (we're in OK–supposed to have a colder, but drier, winter than normal). We had some hatch on my birthday (late March) this year, and a repeat performance would certainly not be amiss…given we've got 5 hens and 1 rooster left, I can use all the chicks we can get, asap. We've got a nice snug coop for them, lots of warm bedding, and so we're just hoping that this one little egg hatches.

    I've tried taking them from her before, and it gets uglllly…

    I'd let her do it. Give her less than a dozen, so she's got more room for the littles to snuggle underneath her.

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