We FINALLY have a broody hen! Yay!! After many weeks of waiting and letting the eggs pile up, Pennyroyal ("Penny") has gone broody. I knew it was for real when at night when the other chickens were coming in, she was grunting and making high-pitched warning sounds while fluffing out her feathers over her eggs. The rest of the chickens kept their distance--and for good reason!
After a couple of days we moved her to the brooder's coop where she will be able to sit on, hatch, and raise her baby chicks in peace without the interference of the other chickens (who can potentially cause harm). We also made sure she has a small feeder and waterer close to her nest so she won't have to get up much to keep herself nourished.
We are so fortunate to have a broody, because now she will do most of the work for us! However, there are still some things to remember when you have baby chicks even with a mama hen:
1. Make sure chick feed is available at all times and water is clean.
2. After about a week, remove all the other eggs that didn't hatch underneath mama.
3. Check to see if all the chicks can fit underneath mama- if not, they may need a lamp for extra heat.
4. Introduce treats very slowly to the babies and don't give too much. Last time we had a broody, I gave mama some blueberries cut up into teeny tiny pieces and some shredded cheese occasionally. She was soooooo excited for treats and clearly voiced to her babies how good they were. The babies would rush over every time and fight over the pieces- mama usually doled them out or showed the chicks how to eat the treats :)
5. Check in on mama and babies as often as you can. Its important that they remain safe and to avoid any problems you will have to keep a close eye on them.
6. Allow mama and babies to go outside to free range while supervised (by you). Mama needs a chance to teach babies how to forage, take a dust bath, and catch bugs!
7. After about 4-6 weeks or so, try separating mama from the babies for a little while. See if she pitches a fit or if she is happy to be back with the other grown ups in the regular coop. It may be time for the babies to grow up the rest of the way on their own.
We plan to keep our chicks in the brooder coop until they are almost grown and can go into the other coop with the rest of the flock. They will still be able to socialize with the other chickens due to the adjacent pens.
Our broody is hunkered down for the long haul- her chicks will hatch out in about two weeks!! Do any of you have chicks yet?