Ask a Poultry Farmer: Turn your broody hen into a useful bird
You go out to collect eggs one day and you favorite hen is acting strangely. As you approach her she fluffs her feathers up, makes a funny noise in her throat, will not get off the nest and even pecks at your hand. As days go by you notice she spends most of her time on the nest.
You have a broody hen.
Broody hens always want to sit on eggs. If you have at least one rooster for every ten to twelve hens this is the perfect opportunity to increase the size of your flock. If you have more than twelve hens per rooster, simply separate a few hens with a rooster. The eggs should be fertile after the first day. Collect them every day. Do not wash or put them in the fridge. Put them in an egg carton pointy end down. If it takes more than a week to get enough put a piece of 2x4 under one end and switch ends morning and night.
Move your broody hen to a place where she is alone. This is best done after dark. After a couple days carefully slip the eggs under her. Don't overdo it. Up to a dozen for a standard size chicken and six to eight for a bantam. In 21 days you should have chicks. If the hen keeps rolling an egg out of the nest it's probably a bad egg. Somehow they seem to know.
The hen will take it from there. Give her a little chick starter on the floor (it's OK for her to eat) and water.
As always, ask further questions in the comment section.
Dale Wheelock has been raising chickens, turkeys and waterfowl since he was a farm kid in the 1950s. He owns and operates the Wheelock Family Farm in Walworth County with his wife, Barb, and has been an agriculture leader in the community for decades. Read more about poultry farming at askapoultryfarmer.blogspot.com.