We had a couple unexpected additions to the flock this summer. One afternoon in late-July, I noticed Lana, one of our White Wyandotte’s was broody.
What do I mean when I say "broody?" Well, let me tell you!
A broody hen is a hen who wants to hatch eggs and raise her own babies. To my understanding, it's a has to do with the hormones of a hen (regardless of whether or not a rooster is around). Some breeds get broody more often than others.
We debated on whether or not to get her some fertilized eggs and after searching around for about a week, I ended up scoring some fertilized eggs for FREE at a garage sale! It all just seemed to work out for Lana to become a mother.
Miranda (left) and Jo (right) snuggling under Lana
Let me back up a little. We don’t have a rooster in our flock so although Lana was sitting on eggs, they weren’t fertilized. Not having a rooster means we have two options for expanding our flock- using a broody hen or incubating them and raising them in a brooder. Both ways involve getting our hands on some fertilized eggs. If you can’t find a local farmer with fertilized eggs, there are many farms who sell fertilized eggs online.
The day I brought the fertilized eggs home, I switched them out with the eggs Lana had previously been sitting on. She wasn’t too happy about me being in her space- Broody hens and new Mothers are VERY protective of their young, hatched or not. I did it quickly, while she stretched her legs and ate a snack. Once the switch was made, I watched closely as she made her way back up to the coop and nestled herself on her eggs. She didn’t even notice a difference.
Jo, one of our newest additions
Three weeks later (to the day), I came out to the coop and to my excitement, heard the tiniest peeps from under Lana. Two chicks hatched that day and the third on day 22. Fun Fact: Chicks are most likely to hatch between day 21-23. For two days, I spent most of my free time watching these babies gain their strength to stand, and from there, Lana has done an incredible job raising these three babies. A mother hen with chicks is pretty much one of the cutest things on earth- and the most natural. A lot of people choose to use an incubator and they forget that they have the world’s best incubators right in their own backyard. If at all possible, I highly recommend using a broody hens to raise your chicks. She will keep them warm, protect them from predators, and teach them all about what it means to be a chicken. (i.e. eating, drinking, scratching the ground, and looking for snacks).
Rhonda, our Rhode Island Red
After about a week’s time, Lana decided it was time that her babies needed to take a field trip to see the rest of the coop. At this point, I was still nervous to see how the rest of the flock was going to react to new members. They had been hearing the peeps up in the coop for a week, but how would they do with seeing little ones running around? I had to trust that Lana would be just as protective around them as she was with me around. To my delight, the flock didn’t seem to mind. The chicks were good about finding small spaces where they could hide if needed, and Lana was sure to keep them protected.
After six to eight weeks, the chicks will be grown enough to fend for themselves and live with the rest of the flock. We will notice Lana spending more time with the older gals and eventually, she will start laying eggs.
So with a flock count of eight, we now prepare for the cooler fall and winter months!
-The Happy Egg