Broody Hens are like buses….

We breed Buff Orpingtons. These chickens are large, golden and friendly like Cinnamon featured on the right.

One of the best features of the Buff Orpington is that they have natural broody tendencies. They will incubate, hatch and raise the chicks for us. Plus there’s the added cute factor of hens with chicks running around together.

That all sounds great…and it is…BUT (and it’s a BIG but), the hens brood on their own schedule not ours. This means that between March and May it can be REALLY stressful waiting for the hens to brood.

At this stage you might be wondering why we don’t make use of our Brinsea incubator more. Our incubator is a highly prized part of our operation BUT our broody hens do so much more than incubate and hatch the eggs.

If chicks are hatched in our incubator we are responsible for ensuring the hatched chicks are warm and dry as well as eat and drink enough as they grow. Let’s not even talk about the stress of introducing them into the existing flock which is fraught with difficulties. With a broody hen, she does all of this for us!

Back to the “BUT”. Broody hens need a hormone called Prolactin to be released in massive quantities from their pituitary gland before they brood. This hormone is triggered by longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures. This is where 2021 has stressed us out. We’ve been waiting….and waiting….and waiting…..

In 2020 we had unseasonably warm temperatures in April and May in the UK and we had very early broody hens. This year it’s been COLD!!!! Every day we’ve watched and analysed each chickens behaviour. We’ve looked for tiny signs and (of course) declared that hens will brood long before they actually do brood….but the temperatures have been too cold to trigger the hormone. Until….

The UK temperatures increased and the gorgeous Cinnamon decided now is the time. We are roughly 4 weeks behind in our chicken breeding season compared to last year, but we’re ecstatic! Cinnamon is sitting pretty. This will be her 5th clutch of eggs that she’ll incubate so we know that she’ll do a fabulous job.

Just like buses you can wait and wait but none arrive then 4 will arrive at once, more broody hens followed.

Within hours Frankie our miracle chicken fell broody. Frankie survived a major head trauma as a chick to become a valuable member of the flock. You can see her story on our YouTube channel.

The following day we found Rowan had succumbed to the hormones and was broody.

Rowan was hatched here in 2020 so this will be her first year hatching and raising chicks. It’s an exciting time but we also had a lovely surprise….

This is Halloumi.

Halloumi is an Old English Pheasant Fowl an extremely rare breed. Last year we helped Halloumi hatch out of her egg as she was unable to break out on her own. She is proving a determined (if small in stature) broody hen.

If you’d like to learn more about Frankie and how she survived and thrived following her accident, click to view our video following her story.

To see Halloumi brood has removed all of the stress and heartache of the delayed 2021 breeding season. Our Orpingtons are golden but Halloumi is a star.

7 thoughts on “Broody Hens are like buses….

  1. Get the chick feed ready! Early June is going to be very busy! How many eggs in total?

    1. It depends on the chicken. Cinnamon can have up to 14 because she’s large and can cover a lot. Frankie due to her head injury as a chick is a little smaller so 11 is her maximum. Halloumi is a small breed so 6 will be her maximum. We have lots more hens beginning to brood and every one gets slightly different treatment. ๐Ÿ‘
      I’ll be filming the progress of Cinnamon this year in a YouTube series to accompany the brilliant Coffee With The Chicken Ladies Podcast. Join us! ๐Ÿ‘

  2. Glad the buses/broodies finally came! I’m having my first experience with a broody hen raising a chick. When will a hen usually introduce the chicks to the flock?

    1. We keep the runs on the coop for 24 hours after hatch so the chicks have time to find their feet. We then take the runs away. The key to success is SPACE. Every hen is different and you’re may react differently but we find our broodies gradually introduce the broodies to the flock. They tend to be some distance from tgd main flick to begin with, gradually coming closer and allowing more contact.

      I wish you lots of luck!

      1. I’ll be filming the progress of Cinnamon this year in a YouTube series to accompany the brilliant Coffee With The Chicken Ladies Podcast. Join us! ๐Ÿ‘

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