Will a Broody Hen Adopt Chicks? Yes!

We’ve had a broody Silkie since mid May. In The Broody Experiments, we tried our best to get her “unbroody,” but without success.  This chicken was broodily determined. Sigh and wait.

Then my chicks arrived today. They were incubated by a nice class of students at a local school. Disappointingly, we only had 3 out of 24 eggs hatch: 2 Salmon Faverolles and 1 Belgian Bearded D’Anvers. Sounds like a perfect size clutch for a broody bantam. Hmm. I conveniently happen to have an inconveniently broody bantam.

Now the question… will our broody hen adopt the chicks? Internet research showed mixed results. Fortunately, most of out conditions are right: The hen has been broody for over 21 days and she is very gentle and good-natured.

The plan: Towards dusk, I introduced them one at a time, approximately 45 minutes apart. I also included an egg shell with the first introduction that my child serendipitously broke while collecting this afternoon. Perhaps it is total nonsense, but I read that the shell helps.

The initial results: Did I say she was good natured? I poked around to take a few nosy pictures of the progress and she hissed and puffed up at me! Hurrah! That’s a first for her and great sign those mothering instincts are kicking into high gear. As of dusk tonight, the chicks seem to be doing fine under #1 adopted mum.

The next steps: Over the next few days, I’ll be watching our new family like that @#*$! red-tailed hawk circling my house. Because these are waaay over day-old (nearly two weeks!), I’m going to have to make sure they are getting enough food and water since they don’t have that yolk sac insurance.



8 responses to this post.

  1. I just hatched some chicks in my incubator and have been debating about sticking a couple under a crazy broody hen I have. I may need to put some with her tomorrow and see how she does. You’re giving me hope that it will work out.


  2. Good luck! I’m very curious to read how it works out!


  3. […] Recipe Index « Will a Broody Hen Adopt Chicks? Yes! […]


  4. […] #1 Mommy has successfully adopted our 3 incubator chicks. After two days of rain, the sun came out and so did the little family. […]


  5. […] been nearly a week since our new chicks came home and were lovingly adopted by our broody Silkie. It poured rain for most of the week and she and the trio spent their time in […]


  6. […] #1 Mommy raised the three chicks.  Yay! […]


  7. Will it work to give chicks to a non-broody bantam too? How many chicks would she be able to care for?


    • My non-broody bantam would have pecked those chicks to death (it wasn’t pretty or nice) and I quickly realized that I needed to quarantine the broody hen and chicks. I read a lot of horror stories about even broodies turning against introduced chicks, so I was very watchful. The Silkies are famously good mothers so I guess it depends on the breed and individual temperament. She had also been broody beyond 21 days (the normal time to incubate) so I think that helped. I personally wouldn’t try it with a non-broody as instinct isn’t in your favor as demonstrate by my non-broodies.

      How many? We only had three hatch out, which looked very comfortable. My hunch (and it is only a hunch) is that I wouldn’t go past five bantam chicks, especially in cooler weather.

      Another thing I learned is that those chicks raised by mama hen instead by humans were far more aloof as adults. So something else to consider. Good luck and I’d love to hear how it goes!

      On Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM, Bibliopharm


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