What do I do if my hen is broody ? Choice 1. Let her sit.
If you have a hen go broody you have the choice of 1. Let her sit 2. Try to discourage her.
If you choose option 1. there are a few things to consider first.
Do you have space for more birds, will you be keeping the chicks or are you able to find new homes for them ?
Cockerels - in theory at least 50% of the chicks to hatch will be cockerels. Have you considered what you will do with them. It is not always possible to place them and culling may have to be an option.
Once you have decided you do want to set your broody, in my opinion you will need to separate her from the rest of the flock.( although I know many people do leave their hens in with the other birds, often with success )
As with most things within poultry keeping there are so many different ways and opinions on 'the best way' that I shall just tell you how I prefer to do it.
When I first notice a hen I think may be going broody I'll watch her for a few days. Most hens will spend a couple of days 'thinking' about it. They'll walk about clucking or will stay longer on the nest. Once I'm sure she is sitting tight i.e refusing to move from the nest box and giving everyone / bird a hard time, I'll move her into a small coop of her own.
As I keep most of my breeding flocks in a field in a neighbouring village and my broody hens and young stock at home, settling a broody hen into her own coop usually entails a car ride, so I tend to move her at night when she is calmer.
Once I've made the nest up in the coop , I use straw and sawdust, I place a couple of either fake eggs or unfertilised eggs in the nest for the hen to sit on. When, after a couple of days I'm sure she is still sitting tight. I'll swap the fake eggs for those I wish her to hatch. The number of eggs a hen will cover depends on her size and the size of the eggs. If you are unsure less is always best as it will ensure all of the eggs are kept warm. It's advised an odd number of eggs make up a clutch. I'm not sure this is necessary.
The hen will need access to fresh water and a small amount of food, although she will possibly only leave the nest once a day for a short break.Incubation will take on average 21 days.
I will write more on choosing the 'right' egg , storing eggs for hatching etc. later.