Introducing Chicks to a Broody Hen

Sometimes this works with a broody hen, sometimes not.  Sometimes it works, but you have to be a lot more stealthy about it.  I’m lucky, because my broody Barnvelder hen, Josie, will just take chicks straight-up, with no fuss.

I just went to the feed store, and bought three chicks.

Frederika (Freddie)

Edith (Edie)

Both of these are Ameraucanas, and will hopefully lay green or blue eggs.  Edie is already my favorite.  I think she looks like a fat little owl.

And then there’s Charlotte (Lottie) who was supposed to be a Speckled Sussex, only there was some kind of problem at the hatchery, and we had to chose a different breed instead.  We chose a Buckeye.  They are supposedly great mousers!

Here is a video of Josie meeting her new babies.

Josie is such a great girl.  I used to get annoyed with her constant broodiness, but now I’ve learned to appeciate her mothering skills.  It’s so brilliant, being able to bring new chickens into your flock through this method.  There’s no fuss with pasty butt, heat lamps, or messy brooder boxes in your house.  And best of all, by the time they are grown up, they are peacefully intregated into your flock!  And if your hen is as friendly as Josie, she teaches her chicks not to fear humans.  It won’t be long before she’ll be showing them how to jump up on my lap!

I transfered Loki and his girl out of the roof garden coop, and into the smaller one, so I could clean the big coop out and use it for Josie and her babies.  While they are young, I like to give them a little extra  privacy away from the Big Hens Who Are Terrified of Babies.

Josie will be a couple of days coming out of her broody state.  If she were hatching eggs, she’d have to wait for all of them to finish hatching, so even though she has her babies, her body tells her she still needs to sit still on her nest and wait.  Meanwhile, she talks continually to her babies, teaches them to eat food (and not to eat poop).

Yesterday I introduced them, today I took a second video of them.

If you’re interested in why hens go broody, I HIGHLY recommend this article by the Holistic Hen. What she says makes so much sense.  It’s completely true that Josie used to be the absolute bottom of the pecking order…and after her first batch of babies, went straight to the top.  The only hens that give her any sass at all are her two daughters.  Of course it doesn’t help that she’s such a natural mother that when she finds something yummy to eat, she can’t resist giving the “Come babies, come babies, I found food for you!” call.  Her two-year old daughters come running, and when Josie sees them, she realizes her mistake and snaps up the goody herself, leaving her daughters standing around looking confused.

And let’s end this blog with two ducklings in a basket.  Just because I can.



10 responses to “Introducing Chicks to a Broody Hen

  1. Your Barnie is beautiful. I love her coloring.

  2. Ducklings!!! They are just hinting at entering the awkward molt stage. It’s amazing how fast they grow – every day you can see growth. Astonishing.

    My girls almost have half their adult feathers in, and yesterday morning we picked up a just dried (hours old!) little Saxony male. It will be an arranged marriage, once the girls no longer look like Godzilla to him. He is literally the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on, and I’ve seen some cute fuzzy babies. I can send you a pic if you want to see him. He has imprinted on us already and thinks my neck and my hair is his brooder, not the actual brooder/EcoGlow. About broke my heart when I had to leave him in there, he will spend hours against my neck. ❤

    • Aw…I’d love to see a pic! It’s so sweet when a duckling imprints. One of my first pets was an imprinted duckling named Peep.

  3. Colette Griffith

    I tried putting chicks with my broody Astralorp and she wouldn’t have any of it.

  4. AWESOME!!! I remember putting chicks with body hens, too. We had a hen one time that didn’t like the black chicks… GEEZ!!!

    • They are funny that way! If you put several different colors of chicks together, they tend to group themselves by color, too.

  5. Justine McCarthy

    I know my comment is a bit late but we have a Barnevelder called Elsa who went broody for nearly 3 weeks and we just gave her 4 newbie chicks to look after and she is doing an AWESOME job, we are so proud of her. She plucked all her feathers on her chest and looks a bit unwell though….

    • Plucking the breast feathers is normmal…That’s how they regulate heat for their eggs. Looking a bit worn out is normal too. They often lose a lot of weight and get severely out of condition. She’ll come back to normal soon. Congrats on the new babies! It is such a wonderful thing, to see a momma and her chicks together!

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