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Author Topic: When can you move a broody?  (Read 2490 times)


  • Joined Sep 2010
  • Fife
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When can you move a broody?
« on: June 05, 2013, 10:18:24 am »
First time, unintended, but hey ho..

Broody I couldn't dissuade I eventually decided to let her try and hatch her eggs or even a couple of them as I'd not sell them anyway and have more than enough myself not to think of the attempt as a waste if nothing came of it.

But where she's sitting is not ideal - first other birds have climbed in and laid on top of her and she's taken on some of those eggs so I don't know which are the originals in the third week and which are later additions.

Second the coop is in the main run which is better for her security wise overnight and also for her to access feed and water, tho I have taken food to her on days she's not chosen to come out and peck while I've seen her, which she does most evenings hence my knowing there are more eggs than she started with.  But it is above ground level and has no outdoor run bar what they all use, I could add a ramp for chicks but they might fall out/off it, and it's in a place and angle I can't add the smallest caged run area I have to isolate her and the chicks in an outdoor area.

I assume I can't move her while she's sitting, especially not this late, but if anything does hatch, would you move her and chicks on the first day to a more separated space either within the run or outside it where there is more to peck at than bare earth?  And would there be any point in moving the remaining eggs with her or should I leave them and just close the pophole up with a mesh panel so they're safe but limited daylight for a day or two in case more hatch?  I could lift the roof half open but not enough for birds to jump/fly up and in..

I can now see why incubators and pens are more common than hen-reared chicks  ::) but does anyone do it au naturel and have advice?  I'd be amazed if I get even one live chick let alone it makes maturity, but then I didn't think she'd sit into the third week and remain healthy herself and she has  :o
Barleyfields Smallholding & Kirkcarrion Highland Ponies
Ellie Douglas Therapist

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: When can you move a broody?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 10:36:28 am »
Finding it a bit difficult to picture your set up .... but .... here goes.

I wouldn't move her now until her eggs have hatched. I find that my broodies don't actually leave the nest area much for the first 24 hours after the chicks have hatched anyway. Can you pop chick crumbs and small chick water hopper or saucer with pebbles in and water into the coop with her once they have hatched? If you can do this and there is room for mum to get up and take chicks to it then it gives you a few more hours to see if the newer eggs might hatch. Once she has chicks I would guess that she won't sit for too long afterwards if the other eggs aren't fairly quick to hatch. Do you know anyone with a broody who is sitting with no eggs at the moment? ..... maybe they would pop the other eggs under their hen.

Won't go into the reasons for it  ::)  but last year we ended up with a hen sitting in a coop with a ramp .... not ideal. Once the chicks hatched, we moved the family down into the run in the mornings and back up at night.  ::)  Popped a cat carrier in during the day to form a warm, dry sheltered area. After about a week we let them try the ramp and to be honest they did it with ease ... and they were tiny Pekins.

[/size][size=78%] They will benefit from being on grass if possible, I think.[/size]
[/size][size=78%]HTH [/size] ;D [/size][size=78%]  [/size]


  • Joined Sep 2010
Re: When can you move a broody?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 11:03:31 am »
Have you got a large portable dog cage? The sort with the door on the front?
Place the cage on the ground but as close to the original position as you can. Put some nesting material in the rear of the dog cage, then at night move the hen, as much of her nest as you can and the eggs and place her back on the nest in the cage.
Keep the door closed to stop other hens laying in there, but open it to allow the bird out to feed and drink etc. When the chicks hatch you can place a chick waterer in there and chick crumbs as there is enough room, then carefully move as required.


  • Joined May 2009
  • Peak District
Re: When can you move a broody?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 11:21:59 am »
I have a bantam that has done exactly the same, and what was supposed to be six eggs, I now see is 10.  I have had this happen before, and the hen has carried on sitting for a couple of days, and the other eggs have hatched.  If feel once the eggs have hatched that its safer to move the hen and chicks, I would do so after the first day, and carefully transport the unhatched eggs and pop them back under her in case they hatch - she may go in a huff and decide not to sit anymore, but thats a chance you have to take. 
Problem with leaving hen where whe hatched, is that sometimes bigger hens can kill the other hens chicks if they are not happy, thats why I suggest moving the hen and chicks once they hatch.


  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: When can you move a broody?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2013, 12:10:24 am »
I've always moved the broodies before I put their proper eggs under them. So I remove the eggs daily (not had a problem with other hens laying on top of them and once they're properly broody they stop laying so it doesn't take long) and leave them with fake eggs. Then once I know I've got hatching eggs available (I've been hatching my duck eggs), I'll move broody into a quieter position at night onto the fake eggs. I have used the dog crate solution both inside (when it was really cold outside), in an outhouse and also a small run outside depending on what I have available. Once they're settled in the new location on fake eggs, I switch in the eggs I want them to hatch at some point. Those who've gone into a dog crate, I've then moved into a small run before they hatch. Problem is I've had to keep buying separate small runs although that also means they can go onto fresh grass rather than into the main run where the chicks will have worm exposure straight away. I've currently got three small runs outside my main poultry run - two have broodies due to hatch next week and one with a broody and three chicks that are three weeks old today. I've also had to buy a new duck house and run for the ducklings that were incubator hatched and are still in the ktichen. Husband is starting to ask questions!

The only time I've had a problem was when I had the dog crate outside in a bigger cage and I think it was too light and she was distracted by the cockerel. Then I moved her inside and she was better although she was the broody that went wrong with lots of abandoned eggs along the way and finally abandoned ducklings.

In your case, I would think it depends on the hen. While mine have been broody, I've handled them every day to lift them off for food and water so I know they won't panic if I shift them. In your case, I'd leave her if she isn't used to being handled. But then once they've hatched, you'll need to time it carefully because the hatch will no doubt be staggered over a day or more so you need to time it after they're all out but before they start running around. You can get quite cheap small runs from eBay and the ones I have have been surprisingly good. I've got one that cost 120 and I saw in Dobbies for twice that price. It assembled really easily - much more easily than the hand made, guaranteed ones I've bought - and looks more solid than I thought it would. The advantage of them being in a covered run is that the chicks are not at risk for predators such as crows which can take them when they're tiny. I move the run onto fresh grass every day after they've hatched but the broody with the three week old chicks is getting a bit restless and keen to be out freeranging again. Still not quite ready to risk the chicks but might move them inside their run into the main run sometime so they can run about in there.



  • Joined Sep 2010
  • Fife
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Re: When can you move a broody?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 09:13:24 am »
Thanks for all the ideas.  I have a choice of small pens outwith the main hen run if she produces chicks, just can't get the smallest of them to adjoin the coop she's sitting in hence wanting to move her and it looks like I'm on the right track not to do so until/if she hatches anything, plus maybe 24 hours when they won't be mobile enough and a few more may be still coming. 

I am still dubious of anything coming of this and HesterF is right she isn't keen on handling but does come out almost every night for corn and a drink when I am scattering it and is used to, if not happy about, my lifting the lid and putting in food while she's there if I haven't seen her come out, which she may have.  I think where she is beside the feed/water and within the run is safer for her quick mealtime dashes and if nothing comes of it she hasn't me to blame.

The local feed store is also where I bought my first POLs from and I know I can nip over for chick crumbs if I need them, I've a smaller hopper and dishes I can put stones in etc for water, shavings and straw, just waiting to see if I need them and following Bloomers' hatching thread with Maran envy  :)   I've no idea what these would be, the cockerel is magnificent and multicoloured but I don't know if he's a particular breed, and the hen is brown but paler than standard commercial hybrid brown, while the other egg contributors could be the RIR, the Sussex..  ???
Barleyfields Smallholding & Kirkcarrion Highland Ponies
Ellie Douglas Therapist


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