My Hen Went Broody! Now What?

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Carolina Coops - Blog - My Hen went Broody

My Buff Orpington, Louise, went broody!

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with this, but here it is.

We have six chickens and were always planning on adding to our flock. But since our space is limited, we wanted to stagger out our birds, so we always have some laying.

We plan on keeping our girls even when they stop laying, but let’s face it, we do love having fresh eggs.

This leads to one issue:

Do I let Louise be broody or do I try to break her broodiness?

Let’s list the pros and cons.

Pros:
If I let her be broody it can be an ideal way to add to our flock. She will raise and protect the little ones until they are old enough.

We can have baby chicks. Yay! Baby chicks!

We can get different breeds, hopefully the breeds we want.

We don’t have to try to break her of her broodiness, which can seem cruel.

Cons:

It’s very taxing on her (and me) because she doesn’t hardly eat, and only gets up to leave the nest maybe once a day. This will go on for 3 weeks or more.

It can be contagious, other hens might go broody.

She may not accept the new babies and that would be ugly.

I will have to figure out how to keep the others away from her and her babies. (temporary brooder)

I won’t get eggs from her during this time.

I have to worry about having baby chicks, instead of adding full sized hens to our flock.

Louise takes a break from brooding eat some wheat grass and stretch her legs.

Breaking her from being broody can be harsh for her. I would have to isolate her in a dog kennel for a few days and hope that works and the girls still accept her back.

Let’s say I decide to let her go broody. It seems a shame to waste this opportunity.

Yay. We’re going to add to our flock.

Now, here’s the other conundrum.

Should we get fertilized eggs or day-old chicks?

Here are the pros and cons to chicks vs. eggs

Eggs: Pros

I can hopefully find and pick the breeds I want.
I can just slip them under her at any time, no fuss, no muss.
I don’t have to do anything, she does all the work.

Eggs: Cons

I don’t know the sex.
The baby won’t be vaccinated.
I run the risk of getting a rooster.
They may not fully hatch or all hatch.

Day-old chicks: Pros

90% – 100% chance of hens.
Vaccinated for Mareks.
Instant baby chicks.

Day-old chicks: Cons

Might not get the breeds I want (timing and availability).
Momma might reject them (then what?)
Momma might kill them.
I will have to pick them up during the day then slip them under her at night.

Louise grabs a drink before heading back to the nest to brood.

The more options I see, the more confused I get. (I’m like that with everything though, so this comes at little surprise to me).

I could hope she breaks her broodiness on her own. I could try to keep her out of the nest box, but that’s really hard with my set up.

Or, I can use this as an opportunity to safely introduce new birds to my flock.

My broody buff will fiercely protect the little ones and teach them what to do. She will act as a brooder, mother, teacher, protector, all the important things baby chicks need to start out in life.

After much deliberation, we decided on letting her be broody and adding day-old chicks to her in about 3 weeks time.

Wish us luck.

Until next time,

Ingrid — Crazy Chicken Lady

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