One of the lovely things of keeping an old fashioned breed of chicken is that unlike the commercial strains of egg laying hens, they still have the instinct to go broody and hatch out a clutch of baby chicks. The commercial egg producer is looking for hens that will lay consistently on a daily basis & does not wish to have hens sitting on a nest of eggs, so a hen that shows any signs of broodiness is culled from the flock.
In contrast, my hens love to hatch eggs, especially in the spring, and she soon lets me know her intentions by the way in which she growls at me when I try to take the eggs out from under her, often flying at me with her beak. A broody hen can get pretty fierce!
It is best not to move her once she has chosen a spot, so I make a temporary enclosure around her to prevent the other hens bothering her & then I just leave her alone. Provided she has water & a little bit of grain each day she will be very happy & in twenty one days she will reappear with delightful fluffy chicks. Just this week one of our hens hatched out four adorable chicks.
These chicks, reared naturally by their mother are the healthiest little chicks you’ll ever see. They don’t need special ‘chick grower’ feed or heat lamps or fussing of any other sort. The mother hen will find food for them, show them how to scratch in the dirt & hunker down on them to keep them safe. If it turns a little chilly, the baby chicks will burrow in under the downy feathers to stay warm.
They will follow her everywhere she goes cheeping loudly
if they get left behind and within a few days they are covering a large area of ground, scratching happily in the soil to find grubs & worms.