May 29, 2012
A broody hen has an overwhelming motherly desire to sit on and hatch her eggs. Some chicken breeds are more prone to broodiness than others. It usually takes 21 days for the eggs to hatch if they are fertile. Some hens don't seem to know this though and will sit on a nest for weeks on end. This should be discouraged because a hen will seriously neglect her own well-being while sitting on a nest of eggs. Some people discourage broodiness altogether (they may not have a rooster), so therefore the eggs won't be fertile. While a hen is broody, she will not lay anymore eggs.
I currently have three hens sharing two nest boxes of eggs. Two of the hens are sitting on the same nest. At one point, all three were sitting on the same nest of eggs. I thought this was strange, so I got some eggs from a friend and settled one of the three hens on a new nest of eggs. My friend assured me that it was quite common for hens to share nests. I'm really enjoying this whole experience and anxiously waiting to see if and what hatches. I'm thinking they should start hatching the first week of June. If I only get a few that will be fine, I just want to share the whole process with my grandkids.
If you want to learn more about chickens in general, MCPL has quite a few titles. Here are a few choices to get you started.
- Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow
- A Chicken in Every Yard: the Urban Farm Store's Guide to Chicken Keeping by Robert Litt
- Chick Days: an Absolute Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens From Hatching to Laying Hens by Jenna Woginrich
Grain Valley Branch