Letting Broody Hens Hatch Chicks

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Letting Broody Hens Hatch Chicks is the cheapest, most natural way to increase your flock. You will need to do a few things to make it easier for them.  It’s exciting to me to watch the hen I’ve chosen get broody and begin to set.

The anticipation is almost too much for me while waiting the 21 days for her to hatch her eggs. I watched as Mammie and Scruffy carefully rotated their eggs to ensure equal warmth and coolness among their eggs. I delivered food and water to them, and they have both fussed me for checking on them by chuttering and ruffling their feathers at me. Mammie even pecked me once.

Scruffy was the harder setter. She would even skip a day of getting up for water and food, right from the beginning. Ten minutes was the most either of them was ever up. I used these brief opportunities to examine their nests, being careful to never handle the eggs or disturb the nest. I’ve often eased in and heard them cooing and clucking to their eggs. I’ve also removed the rotten eggs that they rolled from the nest.

Hen and Chick

The first one to hatch

Rooster Watching Out

Sambo watches me while I try to see the chicks – he constantly chuttered to Mammie

Hen and Chicks

First Day Out

Finally, the day arrives! I hear peep peep from the nest! It’s three days before she gets them up for me to see. That’s because a baby chick can live three days off the yolk they draw into their bodies during the hatching process. Three days! What agony! Mammie would not let me see a thing until she got up. She had 19 eggs. She hatched 12, three were rotten, and four were late maturing so she didn’t hatch them. Once she has to be up feeding and caring for the oldest chicks, it’s hard for those born late to live. We tried to save the last two, born two days after the others and a day apart, but it was not possible. I believe they were too chilled once I got to them. I brought them in and warmed them, but it just wasn’t to be. So she has 10 healthy chicks.

Chick napping

Catching a quick nap. Those little legs just needed a break.

Hen calling chicks

Mammie called them to her every time I tried to see them.

Chicks hiding

“I can’t see you. Can you see me?” – Too cute. She called them to her to hide from me.

Chick trying to eat grass

“I just saw Mommy do this. Why can’t I?”

Today, Monday, I went out to check on Mammie and her chicks, Surprise! Scruffy was up with 12 live healthy chicks. I wasn’t expecting her to hatch until Thursday. I was so excited, but unprepared. I rushed to get a chick waterer and some food to them. She was very upset about my entering her breeding yard, but allowed me to set the food out and take this video if their first day up. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! She had 15 eggs so it’s possible that she’ll hatch a few more tonight, or tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

My grandmother told me that if the weather is hot when the hen is setting you’ll get more roosters and if the weather is coolish spring or fall, you’ll get more hens. I’ve never really tested this theory, but she never steered me wrong, so I’m hoping for mostly hens.

Scruffy surprises me with 12 healthy, hungry chicks!

Scruffy surprises me with 12 healthy, hungry chicks!

Watching the mother hen teach her chicks to eat, what not to eat, to drink, to catch bugs, to come to her calls, watching their little legs practice scratching for food…awww….Oh the joy! As you can see in the photos. I added some eggs from the coop to each of their nests. I thought I was adding all Rhode Island Red eggs, but apparently I got them confused with the White Delaware hens’. This was a breed I did not want to propagate, but there are three of them. They are half-RIR because β€œRed” is their father. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoy watching and taking them!

Be sure to let me know what you think by commenting below. You can always reach me personally by using the Contact Me page. Also be sure to find this article and so many other informative, entertaining, helpful articles on Backyard Poultry.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack

*Update on Scruffy: She hatched 14 of her 15 eggs! What a record. She would have hatched all 15 except we had a sudden cool spell with 48 at night and only 59 for the high. It was just enough for the egg to cool while she was up with the others and the chick died.*

This post is shared on Simple Life Sunday


  1. Rhonda S. on May 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

    The picture of the big Mammie glaring at you is hilarious!

    • Rhonda on May 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      I think so too. She was very serious at the moment.

  2. amy Russell on May 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    The “I can’t see you” picture is one of the BEST chicken pictures I have ever seen!! It’s adorable, and what a beautiful hen!! <3 Love it! πŸ™‚

    • Rhonda on May 16, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Thank you Amy. I thought it was pretty wonderful myself and I’m glad to know someone else thought so too πŸ™‚ She is lovely. She frustrated me because she started laying and left the chicks at three weeks old. I’ve never had a hen start laying before a month and want to leave before then. They are fine, but I was hoping she would stay at least a month. Oh Well, Scruffy’s chicks are a month old this coming week and she is still mothering like crazy πŸ™‚

      • amy Russell on May 20, 2015 at 8:58 pm

        Wow, I guess I never thought that a mama might stop mothering so early.
        We did not intend on having chickens. Maybe in a few years when we learned, but when a stray hen laid her eggs in our yard & they hatched (Sep. 15 last year), we had to learn quickly!
        Seems that I heard that ‘come here & eat’ cluck from her until the day the roosters started doing it! πŸ™‚

        Monday the 27th, I missed gathering the eggs. The hens were setting the next day, so we let them stay. After yesterday, I wish I hadn’t. Burying pets is sad… burying baby ones really sucks.

        Guess if I had been born a full-fledged farmer, I could only have egg-chickens, milk-cows, and fiber sheep & goats, huh. πŸ™‚

        • amy Russell on May 20, 2015 at 8:59 pm

          Oh, and “Scruffy” has got to be up in the top 10 of adorable chicken names!!

        • Rhonda on May 21, 2015 at 7:07 am

          Amy, Sounds like you became a chicken keeper in the fast lane. Your hen clucked to them so long because she was the “rooster”, that is the one in charge until the dominant rooster realized, “Hey, I think I’m the boss here,” which is how it’s supposed to be. I have to say that’s one of the most unique stories I’ve heard of how you became a chicken keeper! πŸ™‚

          Life on a sustenance farm, like ours, is great with death being the number one hard thing for me. I don’t have such a hard time with an animal that is designated for food, growing up that way I’ve made a certain peace with that, that’s not to say you get “used” to it, at least I haven’t. Sickness, or accident though is very hard on me and having lost a dog this week due to illness I’m especially feeling it now.

          Did you see the newsletter where I named her Scruffy? I called her that because she was the smallest, wiriest Black Australorp hen I’ve ever seen or had. I almost didn’t set her because of it. She is still mothering them and it’s been a month so I’m happy. I opened her small breeder yard this morning to let them into the larger rooster yard connected to the breeding yard. They were all so excited. I forgot to take my camera, but she was showing them around. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story and thoughts with me. πŸ™‚

          • amy Russell on May 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm

            Oh goodness, I am so very sorry for the loss of your pooch. Doggies for me are about the hardest loss. Right next to my Henny Penny. πŸ™

            I do love how Scruffy got her name, that’s too cute.

            Thanks for sharing all your stories, and both your exciting and sad moment with the rest of us! Glad my mom showed me your site! πŸ™‚ <3

          • Rhonda on May 22, 2015 at 6:13 am

            Thank you, Amy. I too am glad your Mom shared The Farmer’s Lamp with you, I’m happy you are part of our family πŸ™‚

  3. Joani on June 15, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Adorable! Thanks for sharing.

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