A hen in your flock is suddenly spending a lot of time in the nesting box and is not welcoming you in her space. Chances are, you have a brooding hen. If you have a rooster, you can assume that your broody hen is sitting on fertilized eggs. While it may seem overwhelming at first to ready the coop for new chicks, a brooding hen will do all the hard work. All you need to do is keep her safe, fed, and happy! Here are some considerations when caring for her.
What to Expect
A brooding hen may pick out her chest feathers to expose her skin, helping keep her eggs warm and moist. She may be rather grumpy about your presence and may very well be outright vicious toward you. She will leave her nest once a day to eat, drink, and relieve herself. Her poop will be huge and very smelly, even more than usual! Prepare the area for her safety and comfort, and she'll do the rest.
Ideally, having a dedicated space for hens to hatch their chicks is ideal. Whether you have a dedicated area or not, the space with the nest box needs to be predator-proof, quiet, and dark. Nest boxes should be upscale and have a soft bottom to ensure the eggs are well protected. You can use straw on top of a good liner so the hen can move it around to suit her needs. Keep the area clean, replacing bedding as often as needed. You could move a brooding hen and her eggs to the maternity ward if she forgot to reserve her space beforehand. This might be tricky, so it's best to do so at night.
Food and Water
A brooding hen will eat far less while sitting on eggs, and of course, she will not lay eggs during this time. Because she doesn't need the layer food, feed her a higher protein mix. You can feed her starter food like the chicks will eat when they hatch, or some other special diet high in protein. And, don’t forget to pamper her with PopWorms! ECO or PopWorms! PRO!! Offer her scratch as well; the carbohydrates will give her an extra boost. Take extra care in the provision of water; ensure the brooding hen has access to fresh water as it is critical to her good health as she sits on eggs.
Mom will welcome her chicks around the 21st day; you should hear peeping in the egg around day 19. You have provided her with security, comfort, and sustenance. The rest is up to her! And, don’t forget to pamper her with PopWorms! ECO or PopWorms! PRO!!