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in praise of broody hens

 
Posts: 248
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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I'm having to artificially incubate my ONLY broody hen's eggs. She's about 9 yers old, so you can imagine the stress. Along with her and the roo in the chicken tractor is an AAustralorp, about the same age. The Australorp went broody once, lived through a dog attack, and never went broody again. I was just happy she survived and started laying again! As close as I can figure, the roo is part Buff Brahma. They're all about the same age.
Here's my praise report. I have had to take q crash course in incubating and raising chicks. We have to learn this stuff, but they don't. We have to be warned about temp, moisture, drafts, breezes, etc., but they do a fine job without taking a class.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The broodiest breed I have raised are Bantam Cochins.  Seems like all they want to do is hatch eggs.  But they are so tiny, they can't sit on very many.  They pass broody genes on to larger offspring, however.

 
Liz Hoxie
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We were given some layers, among them a Rhode Island Red and an Australorp. These two are the only ones left. They're the only ones left. It's hard to find a decent sized chicken that goes broody. The rooster has just "demoted" them from favorites to second rate. I feel like those are good genes. When the rooster prefers 8 year old hens to young layers, that means something! The heat up here bothers so many heavily feathered breeds they lay better in the winter. I didn't look into the bantam Cochin, because I wanted a good size layer. The rooster is part Buff Brahma, his daughter/granddaughter looks like a pic of the hens. She's an H.A. setter that lays huge eggs.
How good are the Bantam Cochins at laying in the heat?
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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It's been in the high 80s to mid 90s (will be to the upper 90s today) and everyone is laying like crazy.  Eggs are about half the size of full-size chicken eggs.  

Currently three hens are broody, but I don't have a rooster anymore, so it is all for nothing.

 
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Buff orpingtons go broody and they are a decent sized bird. I usually have 1 or 2 out of 6 total hens go broody.
 
gardener
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I have French black copper marans and they will go broody just by me not picking up the eggs for two days. This is a large breed and the chocolate eggs are delicious and pretty too.
 
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Broody hens are awesome. I have one that is half buff orp and half silkie and she's full sized but goes broody like a Silkie... she's awesome. Except she just hatched out a baby (yes, just ONE) because something kept stealing her eggs. And then a couple days ago she was attacked in the night by a skunk who sprayed her in the coop twice and stole her baby (I assume it was also responsible for stealing her eggs). She fought a good battle, she's probably the most aggressive broody I've seen but she finally escaped and slept in the bushes under my daughter's window. She's so traumatized now she just hangs out on the porch, sleeps there, won't even go near the coop. I am actually in the process of building her a small 2x5 broody "coop" so she can have a quiet place to be, I hope she gets better But I've always liked silkies for broodiness, they tend to have really gentle personalities. I also have a bantam cochin and she goes broody all the time but like Tyler said they can't sit on many eggs so she will only hatch out a few at a time.
 
pollinator
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Kevin Swanson wrote:Buff orpingtons go broody and they are a decent sized bird. I usually have 1 or 2 out of 6 total hens go broody.



Exactly right! Of the most common breeds in the states, orpingtons and speckled sussex go broody the most.  Least broody appears to be barred Plymouth Rock or white leghorn.  Austrolorps have Orpington in their background so I would think they might have a tendency to go broody as well.  Sometimes an older hen might go broody that hasn't before, but you need to watch her because she may not talk to the eggs and will stay on the nest if not all eggs are hatched and defacto abandon the ones that do hatch.    Bantams and Cochins are known for being good mothers as well.  Also, anytime you have a "mutt" or crossed chicken, they seem to be more likely to go broody.  I think as chickens become hybridized, they become more like the ancestral chicken and tend to be more broody.  I've found the same thing with Buffs, out of 10, 2-4 will become broody from time to time.
 
pollinator
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Location: Upstate SC
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Black snakes will slither into the coop, slide into the nest under a brooding hen, and eat the eggs right out from under her. Most of my brooding egg clutches are lost to black snakes.  When not full of eggs, a black snake can slip through the holes in chicken wire and have no problem entering a coop through the chicken door.  Black snakes do keep the rodent population down and drive copperheads away so I don't want to get rid of them, but only a few of my hens manage to complete an incubation without a snake visit.
 
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I...and they will go broody just by me not picking up the eggs for two days...



Most of my hens are like that.  I currently have a Turken, a Buff Rock, an Australorp, and a Production Red that are sitting on eggs, with another Turken that has few weeks old baby with her, and another Australorp that has 6 babies that are just a couple days old.  Two of them hatched under the Turken and I moved them to the mamma with the four babies so I can move them over into the chicken tractor away from the adults.  Three more chicks were hatching under the Turken when I left for work today.
 
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Can I move my chickens eggs out of my boat cubby to a box and she still take care of them?
 
Liz Hoxie
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Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Jovana, move her and the eggs at night, but get everything ready first. The go away and leave her alone for a day or 2.
 
Liz Hoxie
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Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Mike, do the snakes find the broody's nest if you move it to a safe place?
I'm thinking of a broody hut/tractor for mom and chicks, surrounded by hardware cloth on the bottom 1/3.
 
pollinator
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Jovana Johnson wrote:Can I move my chickens eggs out of my boat cubby to a box and she still take care of them?



Yes I've done it twice with two different hens (a maran and a Dansk landhøns) both sat again with no problems. Hubby grabbed the hen making sure there were no eggs up under her wings, I just ran around opening doors etc, they were then put into a chicken tractor with the new eggs I wanted them to brood. I'm sure they would have sat on their own again though!
 
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