A few weeks ago we had some hens go broody. This means they wanted to sit on eggs and would make that clucking sound (if you’ve heard it, you know exactly what I mean) when we would touch them, but wouldn’t move. One way to confirm is that when you check on them at night, they are still sitting in the box, instead of perching.
From what I have read, hens going broody isn’t very common and is prized for self-sufficient farmers. Knowing this, I just didn’t feel right breaking the cycle. I have read many things on how to break them, but they don’t go on to lay eggs for a few weeks anyway. Earlier this year we allowed a hen to sit on 3 eggs. She went on to hatch 2 of them. So, since we have done this before, we allowed them to sit on eggs.
As we waited and then candled them, we found out that they were sterile (not fertilized). We had just gotten our meat birds in the mail, so we made a plan to trick the hens into thinking their eggs had hatched. We made some mini coops, as I like to call them, and at night we moved them in there for some privacy and safety.
The reason for moving them at night is because they are half asleep and will hopefully calm down quickly. We put their eggs back underneath and waited again until the next night for slipping chicks under them.
The freedom ranger broilers were under a week old, so we thought we would give it a shot. So, at night we did the quick snatch and grab, and slipped a chick under each. After keeping an eye on them to make sure the mom is ok, we left them for the night. The next morning the moms and chicks were out scratching at grass and happy as can be. It worked perfectly.
In hindsight, I think I would have ordered some new laying pullets and used them instead, because when comparing the chicks in the brooder with the chicks with the mom, there is a major size difference. I think this is because the ones with moms are spending more time foraging as opposed to eating chick food, therefore, the ones with moms are much smaller. I will say though, those chicks are really enjoying their grass! I cannot wait until we move the other chicks on pasture.