A broody hen is a chicken that has the instinct to sit on eggs and hatch them. This is a natural behavior for chickens, and it's how they reproduce. When a hen goes broody, she will stop laying eggs and instead focus all of her energy on incubating and hatching her eggs.
The broody process begins with the hen selecting a nest and laying her eggs. Once she has a full clutch of eggs, she will begin to sit on them, keeping them warm and turning them regularly. After about 21 days, the eggs will hatch, and the hen will become a mother to her new chicks.
One of the most obvious signs that a hen is broody is that she will not leave the nest. She will spend most of her time sitting on the eggs and will only leave for short periods to eat, drink, and defecate. Another sign of a broody hen is that her comb and wattle (the fleshy protuberances on her head and neck) will turn a dark red color. This is a sign that her hormone levels are increasing, preparing her for motherhood.
When the chicks hatch, the broody hen will become very protective of them. She will keep them warm and dry, and will lead them to food and water. The chicks will follow their mother around and will stay close to her for protection. The hen will also teach her chicks how to forage for food and how to roost (perch) at night.
It's important to note that if you want to raise chicks and have the broody hen raise them, you will have to provide them with the necessary food, water, and shelter. Also if the hen is too aggressive or if the chicks are not healthy, it's better to separate them and raise the chicks under artificial incubation.
A broody hen can be a wonderful addition to any backyard flock, as she will take care of the hatching and raising of chicks, leaving the owner with little to no work to do. However, if you don't want your hens to go broody, you can break the broody cycle by removing the eggs, separating the hen from the flock or keeping her in a cool area.
Overall, the broody hen is a natural and fascinating aspect of chicken behavior, and watching a hen raise her chicks is a rewarding experience for any chicken enthusiast.