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Can I move a broody hen and her nest?

Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1385
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
Can you move a broody hen and her nest?
Like if I find a hen sitting on a nest under a tree can I move her and her eggs into a safer area and will she still sit on the nest?

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Gary Stuart

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 27
Location: Wakefield, Quebec, zone 3b/4a CAN
We had to move one hen and her nest several times both pre and post hatching due to constantly changing circumstances and she handled it no problem. She would puff up a little, but go right back to sitting on the eggs as soon as she could.

Another hen didn't handle the change well, or so we thought. As it turned out, she liked being broody but would get bored after a few days and just wander off. Then as soon as the eggs were no longer viable she would go broody again.

So in my minimal experience, I would say go for it, but try to make it a one time change. Is the nest in a box or just flat on the ground? If it's in some kind of nesting box I'd move the whole thing with her still in it. If not, then move them separately so she doesn't break the eggs.


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Bull nettles

Joined: Aug 27, 2011
Posts: 4
Move them after dark and they will not notice they have been moved
Jeanine Gurley

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1385
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
Thank you both for your suggestions. No nests yet. But in my experience the hens never lay where you want them too and I am not going to chance it if one of mine decides to have a nest out in the back gardens -- that is racoon and stray dog food. At night I want them in a safe area.

My turkeys all had nests inside of a large pen that I have surrounded with electric wire -- but the chickens now have access to a bigger area that is not quite predator proof.
Ernie DeVore

Joined: Aug 19, 2012
Posts: 24
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In some the broody instinct is very strong and you can steal all their eggs, pummel them with an old shoe, and then let the dog chase them around for an hour and they'll still return to the next clutch of eggs they find and go back to being broody.

In others, a harsh look will break the broody and they'll run off.

All of the different breeds have different characteristics in this matter, and then individuals within the breed vary widely as well. My advice is that when you get a good sitter, keep her. I've got a couple who consistently run off to the agarita bushes and hatch out 3-4 babies successfully. I don't get many eggs out of them but they provide me with a dozen or more baby chicks each year. As I free range, having mothers raise their own babies and teach them how to forage and hide is of top importance.
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5861
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
That is so true Ernie.

The egg farm I worked on in South America had one of those "Super Broody" hens.
They used to joke "She laid her first egg, and went broody". The old man told his son to give her to the cook, but instead, his son took her to one of the brood houses, and set her on a clutch. She stayed in the brood house for her entire 'career'.

After she would hatch a brood, she would take them to 'the yard', and teach them the ropes. By the time they were a few weeks old, she would abandon them in the yard, and go back in and look for another clutch of eggs. If they weren't quick enough giving her another clutch, she would just take over another hen's clutch.

They nicknamed her "La NiƱera" ("the Nanny"), and claim that she brooded over 1,000 chicks in her long career. When her chicks got sent into the laying houses, they said they always fit into the upper echelon of the pecking order, and were never the victims of predators. She "raised 'em right" boasted the staff, who claimed when they walked into any of the houses, they could always tell "her" chicks from the rest.

Ernie DeVore

Joined: Aug 19, 2012
Posts: 24
Heh. The Nanny. I like that.

I've got one we have nicknamed "Chick Snatcher". She never seems to go broody but she will hold out her wing and call for the baby chicks of other momma hens. Occasionally one of the chicks will wander off and she'll adopt it, leading it around as if it were her own. She's a little strange in this but she has a decent success rate. I can't for the life of me understand it.

A chicken seems to have very little "onboard memory". They can remember predators and favorite food locations as well as their favorite nest spot and their roosting bars, but most other behavior seems to be hardwired. I've had chicks demonstrate the same behavior as the parent through multiple generations, even if they were hatched out of an incubator and never saw their momma or pappa.

Chickens are underrated. They're more entertaining than television and complex enough in all of their facets to keep the most engineering-minded farmer busy scribbling notes, charts, and diagrams for the remainder of his or her life.
Danny Boosten

Joined: Sep 05, 2012
Posts: 32
Wel in my experiance don't move the hen or hens to close to together i put 3 hens with egs in a chicken tracktor and they al stopt sitting on their eggs even kept on throwing their eggs out of the schelter and broke al of them exept one so i hatched that one at thats all i have for this year my cats brought me some realy nice chiken baby's and they survived the whole thing and when i thought they where big enough to put outside a stray dog got them
i wil try moving my chickens next year again becous if i don't the rats ferrets or other animals eat the young ones
Jay Green

Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
I move broodies under cover of darkness and I've even kept broodies together in the same brooder house. I've never had any trouble moving broodies and eggs in this manner all these many years.
c cagle

Joined: Oct 29, 2012
Posts: 21
Like Jay, I've never had a problem moving broodies. In fact I move every single broody! I want them to have a quiet, secure place to brood and not have other chickens laying their eggs into the nest while the original eggs are incubating.

I move the broody at night, as dark as I can safely navigate, to a smallish secure place. I've used a large wood crate with lots of ventilation, a medium sized dog carrier, an empty barn stall with adequate wire screening, etc. I have a nest premade and water and feeder all set up. I move the hen - my dh moves the eggs - 45 seconds later they are all together again and then we leave them be. I don't even check much the first 2 days so that the hen has enough time and isolation to just focus on the job at hand.

Success every time!
Carla Resnick

Joined: Nov 08, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Northern California
I have moved a broody and her eggs. She didn't get moved too far, and she was so determined to sit on the eggs that she did not leave them after the move. She had been in a nest box that was up off the coop floor, and I moved her down underneath the next box row, into a melon shipping box (the kind with stiff sides) filled with straw. I took the eggs from under her as she sat and watched in the nest box, then I moved her down to the eggs and she arranged the eggs to her liking and continued her incubating duties. I did not do this at night, though I have read that moving them at night, as others suggest, is a good practice.
All the eggs were marked by pencil, and only one other hen ever laid in her clutch, and I removed it. Closer to hatching I put up a barrier so the other chickens could not get to the hen and the chicks. As the other chickens got used to the new residents, I opened a little gap in the barrier so the hen could take the chicks out as she saw fit.

I moved her to the floor so that the chicks would be able to walk around and not fall out of the nest box. They hatched out with great energy and physical strength. Much more active than the hatchery chicks I got in the mail earlier in the year. I will endeavor to use a hen for the brooding process when at all possible. No need for a heat lamp and all that.
Jessica Stokes

Joined: Nov 06, 2012
Posts: 11
Yup! You sure can. Remember that she chose her spot for a reason though. Try and give her the same sort of spot. I have always (40+ years) put hen-nest and eggs in a brooding "cabin" with food and water - all of her own & generally within a week of seeing her brood! I don't advise moving her after 10 days though! I keep a cabin or 2 in the run all the time so the hens are used to seeing them and the past 4 or 5 years I have been using a few medium sized Dog-loo houses for the cabins- up off the ground about 24 inches with a little ladder. I had 11 hens go broody over a 25 day period, all had several eggs in their nests! It was crazy but they all hatched, and we only lost 4 chicks! Good luck
subject: Can I move a broody hen and her nest?
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