I love a broody hen. I know there are dozens of websites that tell you how to break a hen from her broodiness. You won’t find that advice here!
For years, I purchased chicks from the local farm stores. I even attempted to make our incubator and hatch eggs, which didn’t turn out so well. We did great raising chicks, but our last batch lost all of them. It was heartbreaking!
Then, one spring morning, I opened the coop door and discovered a line of hens. You can imagine my surprise! Our hen, Violet, was causing a backup because she decided to lay on a clutch of eggs. You see, no matter how many nesting boxes we provide, our chickens tend to want to lay in the same one. They developed some invisible schedule that worked wonderfully until Violet changed her plans.
At first, I wanted to stop her, but then I started thinking. There are a few benefits to a broody hen. Let’s take a look.
Broody Hens Create a Sustainable Flock
Raising chickens is supposed to provide your family with the best food and save you money. You may also want to make money by selling eggs. Why would you want to spend money purchasing new chickens each year?
Hens won’t lay eggs all of their lives. At some point, hens go into retirement, or so I call it. They may sporadically lay eggs, but the production greatly slows down. You will need to add more chickens to your flock to continue producing enough eggs for your family and to sell.
If the farm store disappeared tomorrow, how would you continue to have a flock of chickens? After your last hen went into retirement, you might have a stocked freezer but no fresh eggs. Broody hens are the key to a sustainable flock of chickens. Without their natural instinct to hatch eggs, your flock will always require you to purchase chicks.
Broody Hen Does It Best
You might be an excellent chicken farmer, but you’ll never be as skilled as a hen. A mother hen knows best. When hatching eggs, she knows how to rotate the eggs. She knows how to keep them the correct temperature. Some hens also can recognize when an egg isn’t viable and will remove it from the clutch.
Once the chicks hatch, you don’t have to worry about keeping the brooder at the correct temperature with heat lamps. The mother hen provides all of the necessary warmth for her chicks.
The hen will teach her chicks everything there is to know about life outside of the egg. One of my kids’ favorite memory is watching our first chicks learning how to forage while mimicking their mother. It was a beautiful lesson about the cycle of life.
It is a Learning Experience
As a homeschooling mother, I always look for ways to teach my kids. Watching a broody hen do her job and hatch eggs is an educational experience for children. We count down the days on the calendar and wait in anticipation. Broodiness is a beautiful life lesson.
Broodiness Should be Desirable
If your goal is not to create a sustainable flock, broodiness can be an undesirable trait. Their natural instinct is considered a negative, so chicken breeders opt to breed chickens that are less likely to go broody. They pick hens that never go broody and continue the process, weeding out the natural instinct they are meant to have.
Our plan involves a flock that will continue to grow without the need to go purchase chicks anywhere. Nature designed chickens with the broody instinct for a reason. We love to embrace nature’s intentions.
Do you allow your hens to go broody? I would love to hear your experience!