These days chickens are rarely broody. This instinct has nearly disappeared from your ordinary hatchery chickens. Broody is a term given to a hen for her instinct to sit on and thus incubate eggs. The process takes about 21 days for the egg to hatch to a chick. This lack of broodiness presented a problem for me as I wanted to to have a self-sustaining flock. In my flock every so often one of those ordinary hatchery hens would get broody, but with predators and other ordinary hazards that chickens are subject to on the farm, I could barely keep up the flock and for a couple years none of them got broody.
The hens were old and it looked like I would have to buy a new flock if I wanted to continue to have fresh eggs. Then a friend gave me three Banty hens. They are about half the size of a regular chicken. Their eggs are about two thirds the size of a regular egg. But the hens were broody. I put my other hen eggs under the Banty hens along with some of their own eggs and they produced almost 40 chicks last summer. Over the winter we ate the roosters and we gained 23 hens. As winter solstice came on they all stopped laying eggs. It was the longest drought with no fresh eggs that I’ve experienced since I’ve had chickens, but in the beginning of March they started to produce. Now the hens are producing almost a dozen eggs a day. Last Wednesday we had a record day of 28 eggs.
Later this spring I expect my Bantys to get broody again. I’m optimistic. I believe we finally have a self-sustaining flock.