If you’ve been raising chickens for a while, you know that there are some breeds — or even just some hens — that tend to go ‘broody’ more than others, and, some breeds that make better mothers than others. With Mother’s Day approaching, we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of our best breeds for brooding and raising baby chicks.
When asked, our readers and customers overwhelmingly said that Silkies made the best mother hens. A quick online search shows many articles calling Silkie hens the ‘Broody Queens of the chicken world.’
Silkie hens are not productive egg layers — only averaging around 90 eggs per year — but they are one of the most reliable breeds when it comes to broodiness and their tendency to set. Silkies are easily spotted by their soft, fur-like feathers, and gentle disposition.
Silkies are very easy-going and more than happy if you set eggs from other chickens under them for them to hatch and raise as their own — even duck or goose eggs. Silkies are a bantam breed and are very petite, with hens averaging only two pounds at maturity. Due to their small size, they can only hatch a few larger, standard-sized eggs at a time.
Cochins run a close second to the Silkie for the best mothers with our readers and customers. Cochins are extremely likely to set and love to take care of their chicks.
Cochins are available in both Bantam and standard sizes. Both are extremely likely to sit on their eggs and make great mothers, but the Bantams even more so. In stark contrast to tiny Bantams, standard-sized Cochins are massive birds — with hens averaging just over eight pounds at maturity. Cochins are easily identified by the abundance of soft, downy feathers covering them from head to toe. These are beautiful, gentle, calm and cold weather hardy birds.
Bantam Cochins are available in Buff, Partridge, Red, Golden Laced, Blue, Barred and Mottled varieties as well as white, black and red Frizzles. Click here to learn more and see availability.
When it comes to Orpingtons, you can’t go wrong. Orpingtons are an all-around great breed — excellent brown egg layers, great dual-purpose birds for meat production, and cold-weather hardy.
Orpingtons are known for their great disposition making them a frequent choice by families with children. Hens are extremely likely to set, and make great mothers as they are very attentive and protective of their young.
Buff Orpingtons are one of the most popular breeds we sell. These large stately birds — with mature hens averaging around eight pounds — have glistening golden feathers, pinkish white skin and a wonderfully quiet disposition. White Orpingtons are also available. They also have the same quiet disposition. Click here to learn more and see availability.
Brahmas are the gentle giants of the poultry world — with hens reaching nearly ten pounds a maturity.
These massive fowl are very friendly, exceptionally quiet, and easy to handle. Their small pea comb, large size, and heavy feathering make them almost immune to cold weather. Hens are good, consistent brown egg layers — even in cold winter months. They do have a tendency to go broody, are extremely likely to set, and are very good mothers to their young.
Buff Brahmas are also available as a Bantam. These pint-sized Brahmas also have a gentle disposition and is extremely likely to set. Click here to learn more and see availability.
These are just the top four breeds that make good mothers. There are many other breeds of chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys that make excellent mothers. A few others to consider are the Mille Fleur and Porcelain Belgian Bearded D’Uccles, Salmon Faverolles, Turkens, Mallard ducks, and Royal Palm turkeys.
Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chickens
Poultry expert Gail Damerow shows how to incubate, hatch, and brood baby chicks in this indispensable resource. Includes advice on breeds, incubators, brooding chicks and more. Order Now