Three Things Chickens Don’t Need For Winter (and three that they do!)

When raising chickens naturally, there are three things chickens don’t need for winter. I know it’s hard to believe that chickens can and do make it through the winter months, even in very cold climates, without our interfering. How can a chicken possibly survive the cold and reach the warmer spring months healthy and happy? Because this happens over and over. Chickens all over the world weather the winter without these three things chickens don’t need for winter. 

What are these three things chickens don’t need for winter? Heated coops, extra light in the coop, and warm winter clothing. Ok the third item is a bit of a joke. However, based on the popularity of several meme’s floating around social media, you would think that chickens are being mistreated if they aren’t wearing the latest sweater vest. More on that later.

things chickens don't need for winter

What are the Things Chickens Don’t Need for Winter

Heat in the coop is a particularly touchy subject with some chicken keepers. When you live in an area that commonly experiences below zero, sometimes well below zero, temperatures for months at a time, you second guess your chicken’s ability to stay warm. And you might add a heat lamp or other heating device to the coop, because it makes you feel better. I can’t judge you on this. There have been a few times that I have also left a light on to add some heat, because I just felt better doing so.

If you absolutely must add a heat lamp to the coop, make a safer choice. This lamp from Premiere is rated safer and more heavy duty for barn use. I knew the truth was, that they would be fine. But, we somehow occasionally fall into the trap of thinking chickens are like humans, or the family dog. Please be aware of the dangers of adding a hot light bulb to a coop full of birds, straw, and shavings. 

Truth is, chickens are very well equipped to keep themselves warm. The downy under feathers fluff, trapping warm air against the body. The outer feathers keep the cold air from penetrating. If the chickens are on a perch, they will cover their feet with the belly feathers. What about the comb and wattles? Won’t they be exposed and possibly have frostbite? Not if the coop is well built, has ventilation at the top and is draft free. The coop should not be air tight. In fact that would definitely lead to frost bite. The coop needs ventilation to carry the warm moist air up and out of the coop. Otherwise the moist air will lie on the surface of the combs, leading to frost bite. Frost bite looks like black blemishes on the chicken’s comb.

But it gets dark so early!

Adding lights to the coop should be done only for your convenience. If you need to visit the coop after dark to tend to upkeep, check on the flock, or any number of chicken care duties, a light makes the task so much easier. If you are leaving a light on because you want to simulate longer daylight hours and hopefully get more eggs, that is taking away the natural break a chicken needs in the winter. Will it harm the chicken? Not directly. Will you receive more eggs than the person who does not add light to the coop? Yes. Is it worth it? That question will have to be answered by you. Here’s my thinking and I am not offering judgement here. This is a management style topic. If you choose to leave a light on in the coop for higher egg production, go for it.

things chickens don't need

What Do Artificial Lights Do to the Chickens?

I like to live as closely to the natural rhythms as possible. Chickens lay less in the fall and winter for a reason. First, starting in late summer, as the days begin to shorten, your chickens lose feathers in the annual molt. The chicken yard looks like a pillow fight occurred and the chickens look like plucked accident victims. As the days grow short, if the chickens have eaten enough bugs or other protein source, the feathers will be almost fully regrown. These new feathers are ready to keep them warm during the cold weather, approaching. Adding artificial light holds the chickens back from getting a natural break. 

things chickens don't need

There’s More Happening than Meets the Eye

Inside your chicken, other things are still going on. Your hens are recovering from rebuilding the feathers. Even though they may look smooth and glossy on the outside, the annual molt can take a toll on the inside. This is why egg production is still off. Left to their own time table, and with good nutrition, your hens will gradually regain the protein and calcium reserves that they need to produce eggs. Unless they are ill, egg production will naturally pick up again. You will notice this soon after the Winter solstice. The amount of daylight is a determining factor, don’t misunderstand. I prefer to let the natural light shine through the Plexiglas covered windows in the coop. The hens will notice the gradual increase in daylight. And egg production will increase again.

Clothing for Chickens?

Clothing for chickens is not to be confused with the fabric hen saddles used to protect the hens backs from a large rough rooster. It’s funny to see photos of chickens wearing the latest knitwear fashion, but in real life, wearing a sweater does more harm than good, when keeping a chicken warm. What actually happens is that the sweater will prevent the feathers from fluffing. The fluffing keeps the chicken warm by trapping the body heat near the body. I know people mean well but don’t put clothing on your chicken to keep them warm. 

chickens in sweaters

What are the Things Chickens Do Need for Winter?

While there are three things chickens don’t need for winter, we should remember the essentials that they do need.

Shelter, nutritious food, and fresh water are the keys to chickens thriving during the winter months. Spend some time cleaning  the coop. Give the chickens a good thick layer of pine shavings and straw. You can line the nests with clean straw too. Clean out the cobwebs. Check the air flow. Is the ventilation carrying the air up to the roof vents? Tend to the structure, mending holes, cracks and other weak areas of the coop. 

Check out this fun video!

 

 

Water is a necessary nutrient all year long. Making sure that your flock has a source of fresh water through out the day is hard when temperatures drop well below freezing. There are a number of products designed to keep the water above freezing. Submersible water heaters, heated bases for metal waterers and electric heated bowls will all be helpful if you have electric power in the coop. In our coops without power, we pile dirt and straw up around the water bowl sides to insulate the bowl or water tub. The water will still freeze over night but it does take longer to freeze. 

Nutrition is very important during times that your flock cannot forage for greens and insects. Feed a quality layer ration to make sure that the hens are getting the nutrients they need to sustain egg development. Supplement with healthy food from the kitchen or leftovers. And don’t forget a healthy dose of meal worms or grubs to add some protein. 

things chickens don't need

Have you decided to use any of the things chickens don’t need for winter? 

things chickens don't need




What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy?

herbs keep chickens healthyCan herbs keep chickens healthy? Does herb use increase the immune response in the flock? The answer to both questions appears to be, yes! Chickens love herbs, so dosing them with these natural compounds is an easy task. 

My Top Herb Choices For Chicken Care

If I could only grow a few herbs I would choose Mint, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Lavender and Sage. As far as chicken keeping and animal care needs, Sage and Oregano are great for intestinal health and to ward off infections from Salmonella and Coccidiosis (cocci). Lavender is an all around great herb for infections, relaxation, odor control, and repels pests. Mint  repels insects and rodents, is a stimulant for egg laying, and the chickens love it. Thyme and Basil are aromatic herbs so they also repel pests.

Thyme and Basil are good for mucus membranes and Thyme is great for keeping the respiratory tract healthy or aid in recovery from a respiratory illness. Knowing that herbs keep chickens healthy is empowering. When I notice a potential health problem, I can immediately start supportive treatment by visiting my herb garden. All in all, most herbs are beneficial and growing them to add to the nest boxes or daily feed is a great idea. Of course humans benefit greatly from herbs too.

 I recommend the top six I mentioned because they are great culinary herbs, in addition to being good for your health. Chickens love to eat herbs but we can still use them in our cooking and health care. In the event of illness, making a tea and adding dried thyme to it, can help loosen a cough and make breathing easier. Thyme is great for respiratory health. I grow quite an assortment of all herbs and dry them in the dehydrator. If I am going to make a lotion or salve, I make an herbal infusion in olive oil. Continue reading to find out how to make an easy herbal oil infusion.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Adding Herbal Care Into Everyday Life  

Most of the ways I use herbs takes only a few minutes a day. Snipping an assortment of herbs from the kitchen garden, and putting them in a basket to take to the coop is an easy task. I can even perform this job with a coffee cup in one hand! Years ago, I was only growing mint and basil. I had little idea of all the creative and healthy ways to use herbs. Cooking and baking our food with fresh herbs is one reward from growing herb gardens. The other rewards are seeing how healthy and strong my flock of chickens is, since I began incorporating herbs in their regular treats and diet. I have no trouble stating that herbs keep chickens healthy.

herbs keep chickens healthy

Save this pin image for later!

Simple Herbal Oil Infusions

 When I need an infusion of one or more of the herbs, I start gathering the herbs by snipping some each day. It’s better to use the herbs dried so you don’t add excess water to the oil infusion. It won’t take long to dry out a cup of herbs on a drying rack or pop them on the dehydrator tray. 

Using the charts below, you can customize mixtures of herbal infusions for specific issues. Or simply make a fresh herb blend of some of the herbs and add to the coop or feed pan. If you use a chicken feeder, I would suggest adding the herbs to your hens diet separately. Pieces of herbs left behind in the feeder can get soggy and even mold. Be sure to clean up any fresh herbs that are not eaten by the flock.

Drying herbs from your garden is the best way to have a ready selection for winter herbal flock care. Herbs dry easily in a well ventilated area. Electric dehydrators speed up the process and allow you to keep a constant supply of dried herbs for nest boxes, infusions, salve making and cooking.

Simple Wound Salve for Chickens

What you will need:

  1. 2 glass jar – quart size recommended but pint can work too.
  2. quarter cup of each of – Oregano and dried dried plantain leaves, and a quarter cup of one of the following dried floral herbs-choose from calendula  petals, Nasturtium, chamomile, wild violet,or dandelion petals  
  3. olive oil, sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil
  4. mesh strainer
  5. 1/2 ounce beeswax
  6. 1/2 ounce coconut oil
  7. tea tree essential oil
  8. vitamin e oil

Prepare the infusion 

Add the dried herbs to the jar. (always use dried herbs and botanicals when making an infusion)

Pour the oil over the herbs to cover. The quick method for creating an infusion is to set the jar into a pan with a few inches of water in the pan. Bring the water to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jar with the herbs and oil sit in the warm water for a couple hours. A crockpot set on low can also be used to warm the water and infuse the jar of herbs and oil.

Strain the oil, using the fine mesh strainer. Add a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth if you feel it is needed. Save the herbs! you can feed these to the flock as a treat. Extra oil not needed for the salve recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Label the jar.

Healing salve pictured on the right. The left container is a drawing salve using charcoal and infused oil

Making the Healing Salve

Using a double boiler method described above, melt the beeswax and coconut oil together in a glass jar. Add four ounces of infused oil. 

When the oils and beeswax are completely melted together, add 15 drops of tea tree oil. Add 3 drops of liquid vitamin E or contents of one vitamin E capsule. Vitamin E acts as a preservative.

Have your salve containers ready. Use clean jelly jars, small tins, or other handy containers with lids. Remove the jar from the warm water bath. Quickly pour the mixture into the containers. The salve hardens quickly. 

Use this salve for cuts, scrapes, pecking wounds, bites, and other open wounds. Store in a cool location as the salve will melt if left in the car or in sunlight. 

Always consult a veterinarian if the wound is not improving, worsening, infected and not responding to your treatment. 

Herbal Tip:

Comfrey is an easy to grow herb that can aid soft tissue healing. For sprains, broken bones, and tendon damage, a compress of comfrey salve can be made using the same method. Apply using a compress to the injured area.

 

Knowing What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy is Simple 

Learning how herbs keep chickens healthy is pretty simple. Knowing what type of problems cause chicken illness helps you remedy the situation. For example, if you know that weak egg shells can be a result of calcium deficiency or a reproductive tract issue, seeing that Marjoram, Parsley, Mint and Dandelions are high in the properties that improve reproductive health helps you know which herbs to use. Of course, make sure to only use wild plants and beneficial weeds from areas that have not been treated with herbicides or weed killers. Here’s a chart that lists common chicken ailments or problems and the herbs that may help.

Herbs keep chickens healthy

Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy Print out Information 

The four page graphic PDF is my way of organizing  the herbal information. You are invited to print out the PDF, for your own personal use.

To download and begin referring to How to Keep Chickens Healthy , 

herbs keep chickens healthy

Click here.>>>>>  to download a printable copy of this series of Herbal Info for Chickens

For more Do it Yourself Healing Remedies for Chickens, check out my book, 50 Do it Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens (skyhorse publishing 2018) available through Amazon and local book sellers

 

herbs keep chickens healthy

 

The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy

 




Keep Your Chicken Coop Smelling Fresh

Keep Your chicken coop smelling freshHere are five quick tips to help you keep your chicken coop smelling fresh. If your coop makes you hold your breath when you go in to collect eggs, think about how the chickens feel! It’s not too hard to keep the coop clean and fresh, if you do a little bit of cleaning every few days. I am listing a few important basics for you.

Keep Your Chicken Coop Smelling Fresh with These 5 Tips

1. Water and moisture are not your friend. If you slop or spill water when filling the water founts or bowls, the moisture will mix with the droppings and create a bad ammonia  odor. The best way to keep this from piling up is to clean up any spills as they happen. We had to switch to a fount style waterer instead of a bowl  because we had one duck in with the chickens and she thought we were giving her a small swimming pool each evening. Mrs. Duck could still get enough water to dip her bill in with the water fount. And there was less mess to cleanup in the morning. Now that the ducks are housed separately, we have returned to using the flexible rubber feed pans for the water bowl in the chicken coop.

Keep the Air Circulating

2. Install a box fan to keep air circulating. Stagnant air smells bad and the flies will accumulate more in a stuffy airless building. Running a fan, even on low speed, will keep the flies, and the odor to a minimum. Not to mention that it keeps the coop from becoming too hot, also. We hang an inexpensive box unit over the coop doorway. You can read more about that here, in my heat stress post. Installing a fan is one of the easiest ways to keep your chicken coop smelling fresh.

3. Use fresh herbs and rose petals if you have them, in the nesting boxes and in the sleeping areas. Not only will the herbs and petals smell great, the hens will appreciate the yummy treat. Mint is another great addition and it will help repel pests too. Check out more about using herbs in your nesting boxes. Another good source for chicken information is The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook, by Amy Fewell.

4. Every few days or once a week, clean out any bedding  that is soiled or damp. We use hay or straw  in the nesting boxes. Straw is preferred because it is low in moisture, which is optimal for keeping odor at a minimum. Occasionally we have to use hay because we are out of straw. I try to use the driest hay bale I can find that is not dusty or moldy. The chickens will track in some wet mud, or occasionally an egg breaks, in the nests. The bedding is thrown out in the chicken yard for them to peck through before it is added to the compost pile. Sprinkle some Diatomaceous Earth powder or First Saturday Lime product, under the fresh hay or straw to absorb moisture and odors.

Why You Should Use Lime in the Coop

Last year I started using an agricultural product, First Saturday Lime. I am not an affiliate with the company, but I am a happy customer. I believe in sharing my thoughts on good products when I find something worthwhile. First Saturday Lime is basically lime, but the formula is 100 % non toxic, non caustic and safe for pets and children, along with livestock and poultry. As with any dust type product, care should be taken when applying the product to avoid inhaling the dust. I make sure the fan in the coop and barn is off and that it’s not a windy day. Once it is applied, the product does not seem to blow around at all.

You can read more about the product on their website. After a year of using the product, I can honestly say that it does a better job of preventing odors, controlling insects and providing an additional calcium source than any previous product used here. We still offer oyster shell, or crushed egg shells but it’s good to know that the FSL provides an additional source of calcium for our layer hens.

keep chicken coop smelling fresh

In addition, we use it in the sheep and goat barn, rabbit house, and the litter pans for our house rabbits get a liberal dose of FSL at each cleaning. If you raise house rabbits, you know odor can be a problem. Since starting to use First Saturday Lime in the rabbit litter, I clean the boxes less frequently.

Time For a Major Cleanup

5. Several times a year, completely clean out the bedding on the coop floor. Sometimes we use the deep litter method of coop bedding. This means that we continue to add fresh bedding or shavings as needed to the coop and only remove the damp/wet or soiled bedding on the floor as needed. In the winter this adds to the warmth of the coop by keeping the decomposing litter and feces in the building. Decomposing matter creates heat. We keep less litter and shavings in the coop during the hot months of summer to keep it cooler. The frequency of cleaning out the coop will depend on the weather, humidity, how much time the chickens are kept in the coop, among other factors. 

Keeping chickens happy and smelling good is not a full time job and doesn’t need to be. Maintain a dry environment and you will be able to keep your chicken coop smelling fresh. 

 

keep your chicken coop smelling fresh

**Updated 4/28/2017 from the original post written 6/25/2013

Updated 5/20/2019 

Keep Your coop smelling fresh

 




When Can Chicks Go Outside?

when can chicks go outsideOne of the top questions I am asked is when can chicks go outside. The need for warmth is key to a growing chick. The growing period is important and making adjustments at the right time is crucial to their future health and well being. The answer really depends on providing warmth, safety, food and water, where ever you house the brooder.

The first weeks of life you are dealing with rather fragile beings. They require a very warm environment. Even if you have a shed, garage or coop with electric, the heat source will be needed 24/7. As the chicks grow, you will see them venture away from the heat source more and more. The chick’s downy covering will give way to new feathers. You can start to reduce the heat level gradually. Starting with the brooder near 100 degrees F, gradually reduce the heat by 5 degrees each week.

As the chicks grow, it is ok to take them outside for a short time, for a play time. I recommend keeping it to 15 minutes or less, and provide a secure enclosure so you don’t lose a wandering, brave chick! 

when can chicks go outside

If the chicks are mostly feathered and the weather is warm enough at night, you can gradually begin to wean them from the heat. This won’t happen for the first few weeks of life, however. Chilling is one of the leading causes of chick death. Once a chick gets chilled, it is hard to bring them back. The first few days are critical in giving your new chicks the best start. 

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Go Outside?

As the chicks begin to grow, the mess becomes messier. You may begin to wonder if they will do just as well, outside of the brooder,and in the coop.Let me encourage you to wait as long as possible before doing this. Not only can the chicks become chilled and suffer illness from being moved too early, but you set them up to become ill from bacteria and parasites.

Chicks are growing rapidly and need free access to food and water. Moving them to a coop situation where they will come in contact with staphylococcus , e-coli, coccidia, and Mareks disease is risky. Chicks need good nutrition, and time to build a strong immune system before being moved outside.

when can chicks go outside

I hedge a little on my answer, because each breed feathers out at a slightly different rate. And each area of the world has different weather patterns. Sometime between 4 and 6 weeks of age, depending on the weather, the chicks may be able to begin living in the coop. There is nothing to be gained by rushing the chicks from the brooder environment into the coop. 

Some people are successful with leaving the chicks in the coop and run during the warmer daytime, and bringing them into the garage or home at night. The answer to when can chicks go outside is a variable situation!

This does not mean that the chicks are ready to be integrated with the big chickens. You will want to take that slow and easy, when they are a little bigger.

when can chicks go outside

When Can Chicks Join the Flock

If you watch a mother hen take care of her babies you will see that she protects them from other flock members. It takes a bold chicken to mess with a mama hen. In the case of chicks raised by humans, we have removed this protective barrier. We must use safe practices to integrate the new young pullets to the flock. Gradual and slow are the terms to keep in mind. 

My usual time line for introducing the new chicks to the flock is around 10 weeks. The chicks must be fully feathered, and on their way to similar size of the chickens they are joining. Adding small bantams to large breed, more aggressive hens is not always going to end well. A sharp hard peck on the head can damage a tiny bantam pullet. In addition, a full size rooster trying to mate with a small bantam pullet can damage or hurt the little one. I have had some bad outcomes from integrating small breeds into large breeds so I don’t recommend it. On the other hand if they are raised together, I  have had no such issues.

when can chicks go outside

When chicks are losing the baby appearance, feather growth has come in, get some sort of enclosure to put them in as they begin to experience the big kids area. I do not recommend just tossing the chicks into the big chicken’s area. Let them both get used to each other through a fence, dog crate, or some other wire enclosure. The chicks will still have their own food and water so they are sure to get plenty to eat and drink. You may need to keep the food and water in the middle of the pen so the big chickens can’t reach in for a snack. 

when can chicks go outside

when can chicks go outside

Fully Integrated Flock

Once the chicks don’t seem to be getting much attention from the flock, through the fence, you can try some short intervals of letting them out. I try to keep an eye on this and I do rescue anyone who seems to be picked on. Placing some hiding spots around the run. One year four of our pullets liked to hide out behind the coop door. I have also leaned a piece of plywood against the fence for a lean-to. A fallen tree limb with leaves can provide cover, too.

when can chicks go outside

Is There a Right Answer?

When can chicks go outside and when can chicks join the flock are important points to consider when raising chickens. I think that the answer depends on a lot of factors. Weather, coop set up, and breeds of chickens, are some of the variables involved. What tips would you add about when can chicks go outside? How did you introduce your chicks to your flock? I’d love to keep the discussion going in the comments.




10 Signs You Have a Broody Hen

How do you handle broody hen season? What is a broody and how do you know you have one? The spring weather brings on the urge to set on eggs and hatch out a clutch of chicks. If the eggs have been fertilized by a rooster, in approximately 21 days from when the hen finishes collecting her eggs and begins to set on the eggs, you will have cute new chicks!

I  specifically bought bantam Cochin chicks, because they are often serious broody hens. We ended up with six hens and 5 roosters, although only one rooster lives with the six hens. First only one hen began broody hen behavior. Before long, all the hens were setting on eggs. Some were co- nesting. Others were sitting on top of other broody hens. It was getting a little crazy in the hen house! 

Signs that you have a Broody Hen

Some of the following symptoms and signs may occur when you have a broody hen. 

  1. Reluctance to get up off the egg or eggs in the nest
  2. Sitting in the nest even when there are no eggs
  3.  Pecking your hand or biting you when you check for eggs underneath her.
  4. Chest and belly feathers are missing.
  5. Comb and wattles are pale
  6. The broody only leaves the nest once or twice a day, and quickly returns after a quick bite and drink
  7. Broody poop. It is unusually large and extremely smelly!
  8. Hen is very flattened out on the nest. I am impressed with how flat a hen can get while covering eggs. When picked up, she may refuse to put her feet down.
  9. Very little food and water are consumed by the brooding hen.
  10.  Broody hen clucks softly to her chicks as they get close to hatch day.

broody hen

It’s fun to watch the broody hen and her intense concentration, as she waits for the big day. Things can get crazy though when you have a few hens trying to hatch eggs and each thinks she should have all the eggs. I noticed that our broody’s eggs were being taken by some or all of the other hens. They were semi broody, but no where as serious as the first. 

broody hen

Moving a Hen to the Nursery or a Private Area

In order to hopefully have a successful hatch, I could see that our first broody of the year would have to be moved away from the other hens. Eggs were being broken, the nests were becoming sticky and dirty, and this was not a good situation for hatching chicks. Many people use a dog crate for a hen to live in while she broods. This is a great idea. There is often enough room in the dog crate for a small water and food of her own. Or you can use a smaller crate and let her out twice a day to get food and water and relieve herself. The crate keeps the eggs safe from other hens and the rooster. It also gives the chicks time to hatch without being attacked by other chickens.

broody hen

If your hen is upset because you moved her away from the flock or put her into a crate for nesting, try making the move when she is asleep. Carefully removing the eggs to the new nest area in the crate, then getting the broody hen and placing her on the eggs. Doing this while it’s dark, may be successful.

After I moved the first broody hen to her own apartment, the other hens settled down to brooding eggs too. They didn’t leave each other alone though. Most days four of the hens would be setting on a communal nest of eggs. At this point, I am letting them co – brood. If egg stealing and breakage starts to occur again, then another crate will be set up. 

broody hens

Nutrition for the Broody Hen

During the brooding time period, your hen won’t eat as much food as usual. This fact makes it even more important that she eat a quality chicken food. Supplement with tasty treats to encourage her to take some food. A soft scrambled egg, grubs and meal worms, chickweed from the garden, are all interesting tasty treats. You want to do what you can to keep the hen in good condition. 

What About When a Broody is a Bad Mother Hen?

I wasn’t quite prepared for what was happening in another coop this spring. The hens were broody and not a breed known for broody behavior. But three hens were serious and kept setting. They would set on one egg, three eggs, no eggs, and kept jumping from one nest to another. They proved challenging and would not nest in a lower location. All three insisted on brooding in the highest nest boxes. I wasn’t sure how that would work out once the chicks hatched.

It turned out that not only were these hens making questionable choices in nesting locations, they also chose to leave the newly hatched chicks behind, leave the nest and go set on a different nest box of eggs. Luckily we check our coops a few times a day and the chicks were found and taken to a brooder. I didn’t expect this behavior from a broody hen!

chicks held in hand

Broodiness Interrupts Egg Production and Collection

Even hens that do not have a rooster in the flock can go broody. The only problem is, if the eggs aren’t fertilized, they won’t develop. If you want to hatch chicks under a broody and you don’t have a rooster, you can order hatching eggs from someone who does.

Broody hens don’t lay eggs, and they may discourage other hens from using the nests, or even coming into the coop. Some broody hens are quite mean when they set on eggs. The disruption can leave you with less eggs than you normally collect every day. Also, the broody moms would collect all the new eggs every day leaving us with no eggs!

Broody hen

Here’s how I worked around this problem. One day I decided to mark all the eggs that were being set at that point. Each had a mark put on them using a sharpie marker. Any other eggs that did not have the mark, were new and could be collected. We aren’t collecting as many eggs as before brooding began, but at least we can pick up the new eggs each day.

hatching eggs

For some, not getting as many eggs is an issue. It’s ok if you choose to not have your hen brood.  In the past, I have chosen to break my broody hens of the urge, instead of letting them set on eggs. We needed eggs more than we needed new chicks at that time. 

Enjoy!

momma hen with chicks

Brooding chicks from your own flock is an interesting and exciting adventure. Watching the hen teach the new babies how to find food and drink, and then cuddle under her wings to warm up, is very sweet reward for taking good care of the broody momma. Many would argue that this is the best part of chicken farming!

broody hen