Do bantam hens go broody?
Bantam hens do go broody and it is breed dependant just like in the large fowl chickens. Some breeds of bantam are much more broody than others.
I have had a lot of bantams over the years and it wasn't long before I had my first broody one and despite their small size they can be difficult to handle.
Below: A video of a broody hen attacking my hand.
In my experience bantams have a greater tendency for broodiness than their full size cousins. The chaos that comes with broody bantam hens is hard to miss.
How to spot a broody bantam hen:
- Spotting broody hens is quite easy for the most part. You will definitely know when you get your first broody as the symptoms are clear to see.
- She will be flat and spread out in a nest and it will be like she has glued herself to the nest.
- She will be grumpy and you will get pecked.
- Vocalisations. You might begin to wonder where the tiger came from with all the growling that will be going on.
- She will have developed a featherless batch on her breast called the brood patch which may be red.
- She will be warmer. Part of the hormonal change that happens to a broody gives them a warm breast.
- She will hoard eggs underneath her and steal eggs from other hens.
- She will sleep in the nest box and return to it quickly if lifted off.
- The flock dynamic may change with more squabbling.
Do bantams make good mothers?
For the most part chickens are good mothers and bantams are no exception. There is always the odd one that chooses a terrible nesting spot or stands on her chicks but they are not that common.
Below: A broody Barred Rock hen in a nest.
I had one that produced a nest in a horses feed trough, a whole field away from where she was being kept, and the chicks could not climb up the curved edges to get out. I ended up having to go and rescue the poor young lady who was being mauled by a mother hen while she was just trying to feed her horse.
How do I stop my bantams going broody?
It can seem like it is impossible to stop hens going broody but there are a few ways to help prevent it and to deal with it when it starts.
about the only thing you can do before it happens is to remove the eggs on a regular basis. Nests full of eggs are an invitation for a broody to start sitting.
Once it starts you can deal with a broody hen by:
- Keep removing her from the nest.
- Restricting access to the coop to laying time only.
- Closing of the nest. A sturdy bit of card covering her chosen nest might be enough.
- Take away all the eggs and nesting material and make the box uncomfortable.
- Pop a frozen water bottle underneath her.
- The broody cage. An outdoor dog cage with food and water, sheltered from the sun and the weather that is raised up so that there is just the wire mesh to stand on. This is the last resort and can take three full days or more.
At what age do hens go broody?
It is hard to say exactly when a hen will go broody. I can tell you that they are most likely to go broody in their second and third year.
Pullets or broody yearlings may not have the stamina to finish the job and may leave the nest early. It's not uncommon for young hen to have a few false starts before she raises a successful brood.
What time of year do hens get broody?
Hens are most likely to get broody in the spring as the day length passes 12 hours. It is and extension of the same mechanism that triggers them to begin laying eggs in the new season.
Below: A bantam hen feeding her chicks. Evolution has programmed them to raise a brood at the most suitable time of year.
I have had hens go as early as mid February if the weather has been nice and sunny for a few days but most start in March and peak in April and may before tailing off again during the summer.
Why do bantams get broody?
Hens get the urge to hatch eggs and reproduce every so often, usually as the weather warms in spring and the days get longer. Hatching a clutch of eggs is the way they do this.
They want to raise a clutch of chicks and bring on the next generation. Going broody is a hormonal process and not the birds fault, they can't help it.
Will chickens go broody without a rooster?
Oh yes, you don't need a rooster to have all the hassle that goes with broody hens.
In fact having a cockerel about makes no difference, a hen will go broody even if there is no rooster about to fertilise her eggs.
She is neither more or less likely to be a broody if there is a male in the flock.
Can bantams be broody in winter?
Yes, any chickens occasionally goes broody in the winter time. I have had it a few times but I have over 300 chickens from a lot of different types and it happens very rarely.
It could be more likely to happen if you live in southern states and have warmer and sunnier winters with no freezing or snow.
It can also happen if chickens are subject to artificial light at the wrong time.
Can you buy broody hens?
It is rare to find broody hens for sale but I have seen them occasionally. There was one at a poultry auction near me last year.
Where I live the slang term for a broody is a "clocker" and there is quite a trade in lending broody hens out. A reliable broody is worth quite a lot an I have borrowed them in the past from fellow keepers.
Are some bantam breeds more broody?
Just as with the large fowl chickens some bantam breeds are more broody then others.
Silkie and Pekin bantams are well known as broody types but the most broody hens I have are a cross breed of bantam Barnevelder and Silkie. They commonly raise two or three broods a year.
There is a Silkie cross Light Sussex bantam that is called a gold top that are raised specially as broody hens